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I moved into a new apartment and the carpet is offgassing VOCs. I'm quite sensitive to chemical smells and it irritates my nose and throat constantly. The carpet is around 1 year old, so it will probably take another 3-4 years before the offgassing reduces significantly.

I have already tried the following:

  • Asked the apartment office to replace carpet (even offered to pay) with vinyl or something else. They are not agreeing to that.
  • Vacuumed and carpet cleaned (Bissell + hot water + cleaning solution) 2-3 times. Didn't help.
  • Tried Pureayre (http://www.pureayre.com/). Didn't help.
  • Airing out with multiple fans - helps somewhat but once the fan is off, the smell comes right back. I can't run the fan 24x7 due to weather conditions.
  • Tried https://www.greenbuildingsupply.com/AFM-SafeChoice-Comprehensive-3-Part-Carpet-Shampoo-and-Sealing-System - Seemed to have reduced the smell from one area but ineffective in another area.
  • Covered the carpet with plastic drop cloth and taped the edges with duct tape. Reduced the smell slightly, but not by much.

Short of breaking lease and moving (which would cost me around $6,000), is there anything else I can do?

The carpet is only in the bedroom and the closet. Most of the remaining smell seems to be coming from the closet (40 sq.ft. area), which has a hinged door. Is there anyway to airtight that door?

The closet has no other windows, so can't ventilate without blowing the closet air into the apartment.

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    It should fade after a few months, though in a closed closet it might take years. If it's a year old and most of the smell is coming from the closet, it's possible that leaving the closet door and windows open and adding fans would help. Heat per the previous comment would probably help too. But you might have to wait a few weeks or months for that. – jay613 May 9 at 2:16
  • I think before they installed the carpet they did not air it out for a few days, or the glue may be causing the smell so that's why it still smells after a year. Heat is a good idea; I will give it a try. – James Taylor May 9 at 4:21
  • If still off-gassing formaldehyde after so long, I would expect it to continue for at least a year more. The polymer used for the carpet may have had too great an excess of formaldehyde in the mix. – Polypipe Wrangler May 9 at 11:38
  • I forgot to ask, check if smell is formaldehyde. I would carefully label and remove carpet, then store elsewhere. Put the carpet back another year. If convenient, store in greenhouse for a few weeks. – Polypipe Wrangler May 11 at 5:06
  • @PolypipeWrangler I'm leaning towards that :-) Only issue is if the maintenance staff comes in for inspection or to fix problems and finds out that I've removed the carpet, they will definitely not like it. – James Taylor May 12 at 2:53
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Since you've tried all the practical solutions with no success, I'm going to recommend a not so practical one but since it's a closet, it might work. Get a heavy duty plastic drop cloth and cover the entire closet floor. Tuck the edges into the baseboard or seal the edges with painters tape.

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  • Sorry I have already tried that, but forgot to include that in my post. I updated my post now. – James Taylor May 8 at 23:10
  • It should be a last resort, but local disability/access rules might help with having landlord with replacing of carpet. A few places do recognize smell sensitivity as a problem. – crip659 May 8 at 23:47
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One thing I don't see on your list is an air purifier. Specifically, one with an activated carbon filter. Those are specifically meant to remove VOCs.

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I had a similar issue with a heating fuel tank, the solution was to use a fan running 24/7 to draw the fumes out promoting a particular flow direction.

Used a 4" computer fan and it was sufficient and the current owners are still using it.

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