Women - resist the temptation of having that new flooring in your homes if you're pregnant or just given birth. New carpets and laminates emit high concentrations of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, and these increase the baby's risk of wheezing and respiratory disease.
Waiting on buying the new flooring until the baby is at least 12 months old could reduce the cases of infants with wheezing problems requiring medical treatment by around 20,000 in Germany alone each year.
The level of VOCs in the air can be reduced if no adhesive is used to lay the flooring, but it's best to avoid all new flooring, say researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany. They are high in VOCs such as styrene and ethylbenzene, which affect babies' respiratory systems.
The unborn baby is at the greatest risk, although the child remains at risk during the first year of its life.
The researchers discovered the dangers of new flooring after they studied the health of 465 new mothers and their babies. Around two-thirds of the mothers had carried out major renovations on their homes when they were pregnant, and one-sixth of these also put in new flooring.
(Source: Environment International, 2014; 73: 393)