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  #1  
Old Jul 19, '11, 9:00 am
themeginthemoon themeginthemoon is offline
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Default Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

Hi....
I am looking at area rugs for the family room, and I'm debating over which material. Wool is idea, classic and resistant to bacterial growth, but obviously the most expensive option. Polypropylene is one of the only other alternatives, but I'm very worried about the chemicals that leach out of synthetic rugs. I have asthma and severe allergies, so I think a natural material would be better all around and worth the extra money... does anyone know more about synthetic rugs? Google yielded a very broad and conflicting array of answers, not very helpful.

Also - the rug is where the kids play the most! Both my daughter and company play right down there with crayons, blocks, etc, and she lays on the rug to watch movies. I'm not worried about stains as much as the chemicals they'll be face to face with....
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  #2  
Old Jul 19, '11, 9:38 am
Em_in_FL Em_in_FL is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

Do you see an allergist or asthma doctor? They may be your best resource...
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  #3  
Old Jul 19, '11, 10:00 am
themeginthemoon themeginthemoon is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

They always advocate natural materials over synthetic. I suppose I have answered my own question, eh?
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  #4  
Old Jul 19, '11, 2:50 pm
eponymic eponymic is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

As a chemist, I'm sure my response is going to be biased by experience with chemicals that are much more dangerous than anything you'd come across in your daily life, so I might be a bit jaded. Also, I get a bit annoyed with people who think that "chemicals" are evil or toxic and should be avoided at all costs -- somehow missing the fact that the oxygen you breathe, the water you drink and the sugars you eat are all "chemicals".

Anyway, polypropylene is usually made by using titanium, zirconium or aluminum based catalysts. The end result of these are residues of the metal oxides, which are very harmless on the grand scheme of things -- titanium dioxide is used as a white food coloring, aluminum oxide is used in antiperspirants, zirconium dioxide is what makes up cubic zirconia fake jewelry. Polypropylene is also very prevalent in the world today -- check the recycling logo on a plastic cup. A number 5 "PP" symbol is polypropylene. Chances are you've encountered this a lot, even if you never noticed.

If you're worried about specific allergies, then go talk with a doctor about it, but for toxicity issues, I would not be worried.
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  #5  
Old Jul 20, '11, 6:30 am
themeginthemoon themeginthemoon is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymic View Post
As a chemist, I'm sure my response is going to be biased by experience with chemicals that are much more dangerous than anything you'd come across in your daily life, so I might be a bit jaded. Also, I get a bit annoyed with people who think that "chemicals" are evil or toxic and should be avoided at all costs -- somehow missing the fact that the oxygen you breathe, the water you drink and the sugars you eat are all "chemicals".

Anyway, polypropylene is usually made by using titanium, zirconium or aluminum based catalysts. The end result of these are residues of the metal oxides, which are very harmless on the grand scheme of things -- titanium dioxide is used as a white food coloring, aluminum oxide is used in antiperspirants, zirconium dioxide is what makes up cubic zirconia fake jewelry. Polypropylene is also very prevalent in the world today -- check the recycling logo on a plastic cup. A number 5 "PP" symbol is polypropylene. Chances are you've encountered this a lot, even if you never noticed.

If you're worried about specific allergies, then go talk with a doctor about it, but for toxicity issues, I would not be worried.
High.... all of the 'residues' that you mentioned are things that I avoid... and when you combine specific chemicals, the effects can change. It is undeniable that polypropylene 'leaches' chemicals over time, that can be inhaled. I was wondering if anyone had more solid data, but I believe I am just going to avoid the substance altogether.

And yes, I am a bit of a purist. I use mostly glass, wood, and stainless steel in my kitchen, even for storage. The plastic storage containers are a last resort. Most of my household cleaners are home made.
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  #6  
Old Jul 20, '11, 6:42 am
Brannock Brannock is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

Are you sure you are not thinking of polycarbonate and the possibility of that material leaching out bisphenol-A? (don't get me started on that one)

As a plastics engineer I would say that polypropylene should not be anything to worry about, and in your daily life I bet you intereact with it extremely frequently. I actually had a professor who ate it in a pelletized form regularly mixed into food (helps to regulate the digestive process).
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  #7  
Old Jul 20, '11, 9:04 am
themeginthemoon themeginthemoon is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brannock View Post
Are you sure you are not thinking of polycarbonate and the possibility of that material leaching out bisphenol-A? (don't get me started on that one)

As a plastics engineer I would say that polypropylene should not be anything to worry about, and in your daily life I bet you intereact with it extremely frequently. I actually had a professor who ate it in a pelletized form regularly mixed into food (helps to regulate the digestive process).
Maybe I am thinking of something else... and I admit that I am overly wary of non-natural materials... I come from a family of semi-hippies.
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  #8  
Old Jul 20, '11, 9:20 am
sanctareparata sanctareparata is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

We have a huge wool rug in our family room, meg, and I love it. It does shed, more so when first purchased, and then it slows down after that.

And some people are allergic to wool, too....make sure you're not!

Since they are harder to clean, if you want the kids coloring on it and eating on it, etc...make sure you pick a darker color.

We have this one: http://www.target.com/Fieldcrest-Lux.../dp/B000ZA474U Our living room is pumpkin/spice colored.

Our kids also sleep on wool, and I love the antimicrobial properties of it. Not to mention when a whole glass of water spills on the rug, you'd never even know once you blot it off. Wool's neat that way.
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  #9  
Old Jul 20, '11, 10:37 am
eponymic eponymic is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

Quote:
Originally Posted by themeginthemoon View Post
High.... all of the 'residues' that you mentioned are things that I avoid... and when you combine specific chemicals, the effects can change. It is undeniable that polypropylene 'leaches' chemicals over time, that can be inhaled. I was wondering if anyone had more solid data, but I believe I am just going to avoid the substance altogether.

And yes, I am a bit of a purist. I use mostly glass, wood, and stainless steel in my kitchen, even for storage. The plastic storage containers are a last resort. Most of my household cleaners are home made.
To be honest, most "natural" materials are still treated with all kinds of man made stuff during production. Wood items are likely treated with sealants and stains and contain other naturally occurring resins. Glass composition varies greatly based on what properties you want the glass to have -- Pyrex contains a high percentage of boron, for instance, and it also contains a fair bit of the aluminum oxide mentioned before. If anything, the plastics are probably the most pure materials in your house. This is also not mentioning the dyes used for coloring any natural or man made item -- and those are probably going to leach more than anything else.

I know I'm not going to convince you of anything, but just remember that "natural" or "organic" does not mean "healthy" or "safe". There are lots of "natural" things that will make you sick, cause an allergic reaction, or have some other ill effect.
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  #10  
Old Jul 20, '11, 11:12 am
themeginthemoon themeginthemoon is offline
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Default Re: Is polypropylene a safe material to have in the home?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymic View Post
To be honest, most "natural" materials are still treated with all kinds of man made stuff during production. Wood items are likely treated with sealants and stains and contain other naturally occurring resins. Glass composition varies greatly based on what properties you want the glass to have -- Pyrex contains a high percentage of boron, for instance, and it also contains a fair bit of the aluminum oxide mentioned before. If anything, the plastics are probably the most pure materials in your house. This is also not mentioning the dyes used for coloring any natural or man made item -- and those are probably going to leach more than anything else.
I like vegetable based dyes for this reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymic View Post
I know I'm not going to convince you of anything, but just remember that "natural" or "organic" does not mean "healthy" or "safe". There are lots of "natural" things that will make you sick, cause an allergic reaction, or have some other ill effect.
I know this! Heck, nightshade is natural, as is white oleander, and they will kill you. And no, I am not allergic to wool. I am a smart shopper, I feel I am good at reading beyond labels.

Thanks for the wool testimony, sanctareparata! That is a beautiful rug, and quite reasonably priced.
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