Although formaldehyde has not been used in the manufacturing process for years, carpets, backings and pads are made of hundreds of different chemicals that can affect the allergy-prone or chemically sensitive. Typical symptoms include headaches, respiratory problems and other flulike symptoms.

The Carpet & Rug Institute in Dalton, Georgia, has developed a testing and certification program to identify flooring products that meet tougher indoor-air-quality (IAQ) requirements. Qualifying products carry the CRI’s IAQ emission label. If you’re at risk, stay away during the removal and installation process. To remove existing allergens, vacuum the old carpet before removal, and ask that the floor be cleaned prior to installation. In addition, the CRI recommends that you keep windows and doors open for at least 72 hours after installation.