Horse stall mats are a type of flooring used for a variety of places, such as gyms, kids’ playgrounds, and, that’s right, horse stalls. But before deciding to use these mats, you may be asking yourself, are horse stall mats toxic?
Yes, horse stall mats are toxic in most cases. This is due to the material they’re made of as well as their manufacturing process. Sulfur and VOCs are two examples of chemicals that go into the making of these mats, and they’re responsible for their toxicity.
Based on several days of extensive research, I’ve compiled this guide about the toxicity of horse stall mats, what causes it, and the measures you can take to minimize horse stall mats’ toxicity.
Let’s dive in!
What Are Horse Stall Mats Made of?
Horse stall mats are mainly made out of recycled rubber crumbs.
In addition to recycled rubber crumbs, a horse stall mat is sometimes crafted out of high-density EVA foam.
There are several kinds of rubber used in the production of these mats. However, the most common raw material used is recycled rubber from tires.
The highest quality horse stall mats are made of non-recycled “virgin” rubber. But, because this material is more costly, you won’t find many people going for it when it’s time to outfit their gyms.
Are Horse Stall Mats Toxic?
The answer to this question is definitely yes. Horse stall mats usually contain harmful chemicals that may cause health issues, such as respiratory irritation and allergies.
However, the toxicity level of horse stall mats shouldn’t raise concern if you take a few measures to minimize their harmful effects, which we’ll discuss later on.
What Causes Horse Stall Mats to Be Toxic?
Because this type of mat is made of recycled rubber, the production process itself is one major cause of its toxicity.
In order for manufacturers to convert this raw material into crumbs and mold these crumbs together to form a mat, they have to add certain chemicals to it.
These chemicals include sulfur and urethane, which are both toxic to humans. They can even be a major health hazard in case of prolonged exposure.
Another significant issue with horse stall mats is that they contain a high level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
These compounds are usually in the form of emissions as a result of the recycling process, and they tend to stick to the mats for a long time afterward.
VOCs can cause various health risks, they include:
- Eye irritation
These toxic chemicals are also largely responsible for the bad smell that horse stall mat flooring gives off. Although it’s sometimes the wrong thing to equate smell with toxicity, this association is valid when it comes to these rubber mats.
Volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde (HCHO) are particularly problematic in indoor settings with poor ventilation.
In addition to the hazardous chemicals in a horse stall mat, the crumb debris produced by it is another reason for its toxicity. Dust and crumb debris can be problematic if they get into your mouth, eyes, or nose.
However, unless you’re eating chunks of rubber like a grilled cheese sandwich, this shouldn’t be a big issue!
Effects of Rubber Quality on Toxicity
Still, you should note that not every horse stall mat is created equal. The quality of the recycled rubber used to make a horse stall mat has a direct effect on the mat’s level of toxicity.
A mat made out of cheap recycled tire rubber will contain higher levels of sulfur, urethane, and VOCs. On the other hand, virgin rubber will have significantly fewer chemicals, so it’ll be less harmful in return.
Therefore, if you’re thinking of getting horse stall mats for your home gym, you should prioritize quality over price.
What Can I Do to Prevent Horse Stall Mats From Being Toxic?
Despite their toxicity and potential health risks, horse stall mats are highly useful and versatile to use as a flooring material.
Thankfully, there are some ways in which you can minimize the toxicity of a horse stall mat.
Here they are!
Buy a High-Quality Mat and Try to Steer Clear of Recycled Rubber
Buying a horse stall mat recycled out of high-quality rubber is your first line of defense against the potential health issues that these mats pose. You can also find horse stall mats that are made out of rubber that’s not recycled at all, promising low VOC levels.
Sure, these horse stall mats may be more expensive than ones of lower quality, but they’ll save your money and your health in the long run.
Air Rubber Mats Out in the Sun Before Use
Another measure that can reduce the toxicity of a horse stall mat is one you should take before you even lay the mats down on your floor.
As soon as you get your horse stall mats, you should air them outside on a sunny day. That is because high temperatures help the mats release the VOCs they contain at a faster rate.
This should limit the likelihood of them making the room smell like old tires.
However, you shouldn’t leave your horse stall mats outside for too long.
Excess exposure to direct sunlight can cause the structural integrity of your mats to deteriorate. It can also make mats expand and no longer fit the room you intend to use them in.
Provide Good Ventilation
If you’re planning on using horse stall mats as home gym flooring, you need to make sure that the room they’re going to be in has proper ventilation.
This makes the toxic gases and unpleasant odors that a horse stall mat produces more likely to end up in the outside air instead of your lungs.
You should wash your horse floor mats every now and then to get rid of the crumb debris that has formed on them over time.
Horse stall mats are an affordable, highly versatile rubber flooring option. Despite how convenient they are to use, they might not be the best choices for your health.
The raw material these mats are typically made of is recycled rubber from tires. To produce crumbs out of this rubber and stick them together to form a mat, manufacturers use harmful chemicals such as sulfur.
Additionally, recycled rubber contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause nausea, headaches, and more.
However, you can reduce the harmful effects of horse stall mats by placing the mats in a properly ventilated room. You can also buy mats that are made out of high-quality rubber and air your mats out in the sun as soon as you get them.