The Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) has historically defended the floor covering industry when it has been wrongfully attacked. A classic example came several years ago in the wake of the CBS Television IAQ "expose" that claimed carpet killed mice. At the same time, there were carpet IAQ newspaper/magazine articles, television/radio programs and class-action suits.

The CRI (it was during Ron Van Gelderen's presidency) united the entire industry to defend itself. The result: the record was set straight; CBS got egg on its face; and the courts ruled against the class-action and individual lawsuits.

This past December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide entitled "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet," which is packed with errors in fact and in tone. Fortunately for all of us, CRI President Werner Braun challenged the EPA and set the record straight with a well-crafted letter.

As a result of his action, visitors to the EPA's website can't access those portions of the Guide, "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet." It has been removed! Equally important, the EPA now wants to talk with CRI to correct the errors. By the way, much of the Guide's misinformation is outdated by more than two decades. We will cite some examples.

The first paragraph of a section called "Why Green Your Carpet? Environmental and Health Concerns" refers to toxic emissions from carpet manufacturing and disposal operations. Braun's letter pointed out that, "To imply that emissions are toxic does a grave injustice to the carpet industry. CRI has consistently demonstrated its concern about emissions through its Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) 'Green Label' testing program.

"The industry has lowered emissions from carpet, cushion and adhesives to the point where they are toxicologically insignificant," Braun continued. "CRI member companies exceed environmental regulations set forth by local, state and federal governments. In addition, carpet manufacturers' facilities are not considered major (by EPA definition) sources of hazardous air pollutants."

He reminded EPA that, "In publishing the current version of 'Greening Your Purchase of Carpet,' EPA has violated its own Guiding Principle 5 about Environmental Performance Information stating that comprehensive, accurate, and meaningful information about the environmental performance of products or services is necessary in order to determine environmental preferability."

Braun further added that, "The dioxin portion demonstrates inconstancy across EPA publications. CRI requests that EPA look at its own documents for further clarification, such as 'Dioxin Reassessment Science' (June 2000) and the 'Federal Interagency Task Force publication Questions and Answers About Dioxins' (July 2000)."

We should all be thankful that CRI moved quickly and effectively to protect the best interests of our industry and the consuming public.