My homemade house has wood floors and some boards were showing some definite signs of wear. But they should after being laid forty years ago. I used #2 knotty pine porch flooring and I thought they would get me through for a year or two as I saved up for carpeting to lay over them. But once they were laid, sanded, sealed and waxed, they were too pretty to cover up with carpeting. My son was a child with asthma, so wood floors were better for him than carpeting.
Those wood floors caused us to get into the habit of taking our shoes off in the mudroom as a way of protecting them, not knowing then it would also be a good practice to keep from tracking in any lead dust that might have followed us home.
But that splinter caused me to jump on that last warm day to sand and fill and seal most of the floors in the house before the cold days that followed, so NO ONE would get a splinter like the monster in my foot. And it led me to think of a carpet memory, since carpet would have prevented that splinter.
A really nice professional family with 3 young children moved to Miami about 20 years ago. They moved from a state that was already testing children for blood lead and these children left that state with zeros. I had actually never heard of zero blood lead before meeting that mother. But after living in the area less than a year, the kids became lead poisoned. The mother was concerned and confused about how that could have happened. And then it began to rain, rained for days and the ground in her neighborhood got really saturated.
The woman had a carpeted room next to the kitchen she had converted into the play room for the kids, forsaking the designed use as a dining room. One day as she entered that room, the floor felt like she was walking on a dock and she noticed the floor vent was brimmed full of water! She immediately went to the bathroom to get extra towels and there under the sink was a sump-pump, the previous owner had graciously left behind, but had not disclosed when they sold the house that it might ever be needed.
The mother figured out how to use it and pumped water from that floor vent yet how long I have forgotten. The problem had another twist. After the rains quit and the water table in the neighborhood went down, the water in the floor vent receded as well. When she raised the cover on the vent it was possible to see that most of the stainless steel vent had deteriorated and shifted so the chat fill under the concrete slab was visible. We took a sample to the EPA laboratory in Picher. The results got EPA's attention as the levels of lead were high and it got the family's attention and they packed up their kids and moved into a motel immediately. They hired a contractor to install overhead heating and air conditioning ducts and had the carpet removed. A load of concrete was pumped throughout the floor ducts to seal them permanently.
We knew it didn't take much lead to hurt a child and she was not moving back in until that place was clean. After the vent work and the playroom carpet was out in the driveway, I went in to clean for them, taking my Rainbow vacuum cleaner and a big metal container for the dirty water. After cleaning for hours there was not a dust particle left when I left the house. But in the driveway was that contaminated carpet. I pulled on it and maneuvered it into my truck and headed out that night to take it to the only people I knew who would know what to do with it. I took it to the EPA laboratory. LEAD Agency couldn't convince EPA to help homeowners with the cost of replacing floor vented heating and cooling systems with overhead ones, but I bet they remember that carpet.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim
To find out more about toxins in carpet and what has to change to be able to recycle them: