Toxic Phthalates Widespread in Vinyl Flooring Sold by Top Retailers

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Source: Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut

A new study has found that most vinyl flooring researchers tested contained toxic phthalates, a number of which chemicals that have been banned in children’s products since 2008. The flooring samples tested were purchased from major home improvement retailers including Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators. Researchers found that, of 65 vinyl flooring tiles tested, 38 (58 percent), contained phthalates. Phthalates are commonly found in flooring at levels which exceed U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) children’s product standards for phthalates. Researchers found that 58% of vinyl flooring tiles tested exceed US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) children’s product standards for phthalates (58%, 38 of 65 products). Some of the samples tested were purchased in Connecticut at Lowe’s.

The study also surveyed major retailers to assess whether they have adopted policies to eliminate phthalates in flooring. The survey found that The Home Depot is way ahead of their competitors by requiring its suppliers to eliminate ortho-phthalates in all virgin vinyl flooring by the end of 2015 in favor of safer substitutes. The company has been working with the Mind the Store campaign to develop this policy since the spring of 2014. The study was released today in Connecticut by the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT. The study is part of ongoing research at HealthyStuff.org (a project of the Michigan-based nonprofit organization, the Ecology Center) on harmful chemicals in consumer products and co-released with Safer Chemical Healthy Families’ Mind the Store Campaign.

“Since our federal government has failed to protect us from the use of toxic chemicals, as demonstrated by the use of phthalates in flooring, we need to exercise our power as consumers and request that retail stores, like Lowes, stop selling these products, and boycott these products all together,” said Laura Anderson, a Connecticut resident who was part of a biomonitoring study that tested for the presence of toxic chemicals in her blood. She tested positive for phthalates.

“We congratulate The Home Depot on this landmark initiative,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which coordinates the national Mind the Store Campaign. “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.”

Over the last six months, the Ecology Center researchers tested 65 different flooring tiles for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer. The flooring tiles were sampled from 5 different national flooring retailers: Ace Hardware, build.com, Lowe’s, Lumber Liquidators, and Menards. Samples were acquired from retailers in seven different states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New York and Vermont.

Highlights of Findings from Flooring Study:

Most Vinyl tile flooring samples tested contained one or more hazardous chemicals. The majority (58%) of vinyl flooring tiles tested contain phthalate plasticizers, which are hazardous and are subject to a pending ban in the European Union. Moreover, almost all (89%) vinyl flooring samples tested contained organic tin-based stabilizers. Over half of the samples tested contained multiple plasticizers.

Home Depot has made a commitment to phase out phthalates by the end of 2015, and has a more comprehensive policy than their competitors surveyed. As of their first quarter of 2015, they are
already more than 85% there. Lumber Liquidators is working with suppliers to transition to alternatives but has not set a deadline. Other retailers that were surveyed, Ace Hardware, Build.com, Lowe’s, and Menards, failed to respond to letters and have no publicly available policies on phthalates in flooring.

Some retailers, manufacturers and brands are better than others.

– The poorest performing retailers: Lumber Liquidators and Ace Hardware, had phthalates in 100% of the flooring samples tested.
– Lowe’s (48%), Menards (23%) and build.com (25%) also had products tested which contained phthalates.
– Amongst flooring brands, Armstrong and Designer’s Image stood out for having 0% of tested tiles with phthalates in the surface layer.

Read more at: http://blog.ctnews.com/kantrowitz/2015/04/22/toxic-phthalates-widespread-in-vinyl-flooring-sold-by-top-retailers/