Volatile Organic Compounds in Carpets and Carpet Cushions

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Friday, August 23, 2013
Download Copy of Adopted Rule (.pdf): 



Statement of Basis and Purpose



Statutory authority


These amendments to Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York are issued pursuant to §§556 and 1043 of the New York City Charter (the “Charter”), and §§17- 1405 and17-1407 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York (the “Administrative Code”).


Pursuant to Section 556 of the Charter, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the “Department” or “DOHMH”) has jurisdiction to regulate all matters affecting health in the City of New York.  Section1043 of the Charter gives the Department rulemaking powers. Chapter 14 of Title 17 of the Administrative Code authorizes rulemaking by the Commissioner of the Department with regard to volatile organic compound emissions from carpet products.


Basis and purpose of the rule


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are common chemical contaminants that easily evaporate into the air. Some VOCs may have short- or long-term adverse health effects. U.S. EPA studies have consistently found that VOC levels can be two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. Their presence can be noticed as an odor from new building materials including carpet, carpet backing, carpet cushion and adhesives. Carpet products that limit VOC emissions protect public health by improving the indoor air quality in homes and workplaces.


On January 17, 2012, the Mayor signed into law Local Law 2 of 2012, adding Chapter 14 (Limits on Volatile Organic Compound Emissions in Carpet and Carpet Cushion) to Title 17 of the Administrative Code. Effective July 1, 2013, Chapter 14 requires a carpet business, defined as any person engaged in the business of selling or installing carpet or carpet cushion, to comply with the Administrative Code limits for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions when selling, offering for sale or installing carpet or carpet cushion. Building owners, tenants and lessees, and any other persons with a controlling interest in any building or premises are also required to install carpets and carpet cushions that comply with the VOC emissions limits. Carpets and carpet cushions installed before July 1, 2013 are not affected by this law.


Local Law 2 of 2012 (“Local Law 2”) requires carpet businesses, upon receiving a request from a consumer, the City Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to provide documentation showing that carpet or carpet cushion complies with the Administrative Code’s VOC emission limits.  In addition, Local Law 2 requires carpet businesses to post a notice regarding the requirements of Local Law 2 in a conspicuous location on the premises of any carpet business within the City and to provide such notice to consumers where carpet is sold outside the City for installation in the City.


These rules should facilitate compliance with the Chapter 14 recordkeeping and notice requirements. The rules do not repeat provisions of Chapter 14 and anyone required to comply with the requirements for VOC emission limits should read the rules together with Chapter 14.


The rules set forth requirements regarding the following:


1.    Recordkeeping requirements for carpet businesses and requirements to provide receipts upon request;

2.    Information to be provided by carpet businesses to consumers of carpet and carpet cushion; and

3.    Notices to be provided by carpet businesses.


The rules require that carpet businesses keep records received from manufacturers for at least six months after the sale or installation of carpet or carpet cushion showing that carpets and carpet cushions offered for sale, sold or being installed in New York City meet the Administrative Code VOC emissions limits. The rules also specify the text of the required notice to consumers stating that carpets and carpet cushions being offered for sale or installation must comply with the VOC limits. The rules require carpet businesses to provide a paper copy of the notice to consumers if these items are sold outside the City for installation in the City, and, for internet sales, to also provide an electronic copy of the notice.


Changes made in response to comments.


The Carpet Cushion Council (CCC) and the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), two industry associations representing manufacturers of these products asked for clarification as to the nature of the documentation required to show that a product is certified as Green Label, Green Label Plus, or meets the Administrative Code VOC limits. Both noted that the Green Label certifications do not appear on the product itself, but may be on rolls, roll

bags or wrappers, sample bags or boards, displays, brochures, product literature, bulletins, specification sheets, corporate web sites, print ads, stationery, etc.   Where the product is not certified, the proof of compliance with Administrative Code limits appears only on test results of samples tested in accordance with the ASTM standard. Accordingly, the Department has amended §30-03 to clarify that the seller may provide whatever specific proof the manufacturer has provided to show compliance with emission standards.


A second comment requested clarification on the font size for the text of the notice required to be posted by sellers in §30-04, requesting guidance on the font size related to the font used. The Department is not, however, specifying the kind of font, only that any font used result in one-half inch letters. However, the wording and spacing were amended to be more concise and more easily readable. In addition the Department of Consumer Affairs, which will be enforcing the signage requirements in retail stores, requested that the minimum size of the sign be increased from 8½” x 11” to at least 8½”x 14” to make it readily visible.