Recommendations for Home Improvement Retailers:
- In light of our new testing as well as growing health hazards of phthalates and availability of safer alternatives, we recommend retailers work with their private label and brand name suppliers to phase out and eliminate ortho-phthalates in all virgin vinyl flooring within one year. Home Depot has demonstrated that this is practical and achievable.
- Phase out and substitute the use of recycled vinyl feedstocks that are contaminated with phthalates or other substances of high concern (e.g. heavy metals, halogenated flame retardants and PCB’s) within one year, until protocols and better practices are in place to eliminate contaminants. Substitute recycled vinyl with safer filler materials that have been screened for contaminants.
- Given the lifecycle hazards of vinyl (PVC) plastic, retailers should also adopt programs to reduce and phase out the use of PVC plastic in flooring. Safer alternatives such as bio-based linoleum are readily available.
- Adopt policies to phase out and eliminate phthalates and PVC plastic in other products sold in their stores, such as carpeting, garden hoses, mini blinds, roofing membranes, shower curtains, and wall coverings/paper.
- Adopt comprehensive policies to identify, phase out and safely substitute other toxic chemicals in other building materials and products, beginning with the Hazardous 100+ Chemicals of High Concern.
Recommendations for consumers:
Here are some tips consumers can follow to reduce their exposure to toxic phthalates in flooring.
- Avoid vinyl flooring containing phthalates. Use the ratings on www.HealthyStuff.org to identify flooring that do and don’t contain phthalates.
- Only purchase flooring that the manufacturer or retailer has indicated is “phthalate-free.” Double-check with the company that it does not contain recycled vinyl, which is often contaminated with phthalates.
- Avoid vinyl flooring that contains recycled vinyl content. Recycled vinyl is often contaminated with toxic contaminants such as phthalates and heavy metals (e.g. lead and cadmium). See the new report from Healthy Building Network that examines this.
The best option is to purchase PVC-free flooring whenever possible, as from production to disposal PVC uses and releases other hazardous chemicals.