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Home Depot Phases Out Phthalates From Vinyl Flooring

Home Depot Phases Out Phthalates From Its Vinyl Flooring

Home Depot has said that it will phase out vinyl flooring that contains phthalates by the end of 2015. The mega home-improvement retailer is working with the Michigan-based non-profit Ecology Center to eliminate the chemical from its flooring.

Recent research has shown that most vinyl flooring contains phthalates, a chemical plasticizer that’s known to have negative health effects. The study found that 58 percent of vinyl flooring samples tested from national home improvement retailers contained the chemical at levels that exceed what’s considered safe by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

The study also looked at which retailers had adopted policies to eliminate phthalates from flooring and found that Home Depot was ahead of the game in their efforts to completely phase out the chemical by the end of the year.

“We congratulate The Home Depot on this landmark initiative,” said Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families in a statement.  “As the world’s largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot’s new policy sends a strong signal to the marketplace that retailers want healthier building materials free of harmful chemicals like phthalates. We call on Lowe’s and other major home improvement retailers to join Home Depot in phasing out phthalates in flooring.”

Phthalates have been linked to asthma, allergies, reproductive diseases, changes in organ development, cancer, respiratory problems, diabetes, obesity, and autism. And while they’ve been banned in many children’s products and toys, they’re still found in vinyl flooring at dangerous levels. Phthalates can be especially harmful for children who are more vulnerable to the chemical because they’re still developing. Kids should be able to play freely on the floor without the fear of contamination.

The retailer has already eliminated phthalates from 75 percent of its vinyl flooring. Additionally, the study found the chemical in 100 percent of flooring samples at Lumber Liquidators and Ace Hardware. Phthalates were found in 85 percent of flooring samples at Lowe’s.

“Home Depot’s decision will make a hugely positive impact on indoor environmental quality,” predicted Bill Walsh, executive director of the Healthy Building Network. HBN’s 2014 report, Phthalate-free Plasticizers in PVC demonstrates these alternatives’ availability and growing use in vinyl flooring, and was a key resource in the coalition’s dialogue with Home Depot.

This study comes on the heels of an investigative report on Lumber Liquidators that found dangerous levels of formaldehyde in laminate flooring. The average level in Lumber Liquidators products was six or seven times higher than the acceptable levels, and in some cases, it was more than 20 times higher than acceptable levels. In one case, researchers thought that the testing machine was broken because the reading shot up so much.

This is a huge move from Home Depot and the hope is that it will push other retailers to take similar steps to eliminate this toxic plasticizer from flooring. Let’s see if Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, and Lumber Liquidators also step up to the plate and remove phthalates.

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Image: Mike Mozart

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