News Alert! Toxic Chemicals in Flooring and Wallpaper

News Alert! Toxic Chemicals in Flooring and Wallpaper

Cambria Bold
Oct 19, 2010

Today, in cooperation with the nonprofit environmental organization Ecology Center, released the largest study done to date on toxic chemicals in building products. Over 3,300 home improvement products—1,016 flooring samples and 2,312 wallpaper samples—were tested for toxicity and the presence of certain chemicals, include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (PVC), cadmium, arsenic, tin (organotins), pththalates and mercury. The results were sobering, although not entirely surprising. Get a rundown of the results below:

The overall findings showed that heavy metals and other additives—chemicals that have been linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer— were commonly found in residential flooring and wallpaper. Highlights of the study are as follows:

Flooring Results

Samples tested:

  • 731 Sheet Flooring – vinyl sheet flooring
  • 30 Linoleum – natural linseed oil based flooring
  • 43 Wood – prefinished hardwood flooring
  • 8 Bamboo – laminated bamboo flooring
  • 61 Plastic Tile – vinyl flooring tiles
  • 39 Ceramic Tile
  • 92 Cork – natural cork flooring
  • 12 Carpet Cushion

Results: 15% of vinyl flooring products (compared to 8% of non-vinyl flooring) had detectable levels of one or more hazardous chemicals. Vinyl flooring products were 2x as likely to contain hazardous chemical additives, including four phthalate plasticizers which were recently banned from children's products. 74% of the ceramic tiles sampled contained lead, while 64% of the PVC flooring tiles contained organotin stabilizers.

Wallpaper Results:

Samples tested: over 2,300 types of wallpaper, from 11 different brands and manufacturers.

  • 96% of the wallpapers sampled contained PVC coatings.
  • 50% of PVC wallpaper samples contained one or more hazardous chemicals of concern at levels above 40 ppm.
  • 1 in 5 wallpaper samples contained detectable level of Cadmium. (All of those samples were vinyl coated.)
  • 15% of wallpaper samples contain a Brominated Flame Retardants (BFR).

Conclusions: PVC and vinyl materials were 7x more likely to contain hazardous chemicals than non-vinyl products. Linoleum, cork, bamboo and hardwood all tested free of lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous metals. Check out's Product search to research a particular brand or product.

Read the full study here.

(Image: Flickr member peasap licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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