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VOCs & Carpeting: What Consumers & the Public Should Know

On Jan. 17, 2012, the Mayor signed into law  Local Law 2 of 2012 (PDF), which requires carpet businesses to sell and install carpets and carpet cushions that have low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. The law also requires building owners and tenants to buy carpet and carpet cushion that comply with the new law. This fact sheet provides general information for the public on VOC emissions from carpet and carpet cushion and on the law’s requirements.

What are Volatile Organic Compounds?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that easily evaporate into the air. They are often used in paints, household cleaners and certain building materials, including mass-produced carpets, carpet cushions and adhesives. 

Why limit VOC emissions from carpet products?

Reducing VOC emissions in carpets and carpet products can reduce VOC impact on the environment, and reduce exposures and odors indoors. Reducing sources of indoor air pollutants and maintaining good ventilation can improve overall indoor air quality.  See link for other ways to improve IAQ

What does the new law require?

Beginning July 1, 2013, carpet businesses can only sell or install carpets and carpet cushions that comply with specific VOC emissions limits as listed in New York City Administrative Code (Limits on Volatile Organic Compound Emissions in Carpet and Carpet Cushion).

Building owners and tenants in New York City can only buy and install carpet or carpet cushion that complies with the VOC emission limits specified in the NYC Administrative Code.

Carpet businesses must also post or provide a notice to customers stating the requirements of the law.

What types of carpet and carpet cushion are exempt from the law?

Antique or hand-made rugs or carpets made of natural fibers such as wool, cotton or jute, with no VOC-containing carpet backing or carpet cushion, are exempt from the law. Any carpet or carpet cushion sold or installed before July 1, 2013 is exempt.

What information does the customer have the right to receive?
A customer has the right to:

Request documentation from a carpet business when they are shopping for a carpet or carpet cushion, or within six months of the date of purchase, that shows the product being sold or installed meets VOC emissions limits. Acceptable forms of information include: 

  • Documentation from the carpet or carpet cushion manufacturer that shows the product complies with VOC emissions limits as specified in the NYC Administrative Code, or
  • Certification from the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label or Green Label Plus Program.

The carpet seller or installer is also required to include the following information to either forms of documentation to help identify the carpet or carpet cushion 

  • Name and address of the manufacturer,
  • Product brand name,
  • Product style name or number, and
  • Product model name or number.

Receive a receipt with their purchase that includes the information below. As with any major household purchase, a customer should keep a complete record of their carpet or carpet cushion purchase in case of questions or for future assistance

  •  Date of purchase
  • Name of the manufacturer
  • Brand name of carpet or carpet cushion
  • Style name or number of carpet or carpet cushion
  • Model name or number of carpet or carpet cushion
How can I report a business that does not provide documentation showing a carpet product complies with VOC emissions limits?
Call 311 to report a carpet business that does not provide you with proper documentation or an appropriate receipt within three (3) business days of a request.
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