As part of this report, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign surveyed six of the nation’s top DIY building and construction retailers to assess whether they have adopted policies to reduce or eliminate toxic phthalates in vinyl (PVC) flooring.
In February 2015 the Mind the Store campaign sent letters to the top retailers whose vinyl flooring products were being tested by HealthyStuff.org. The letters (see sample here) were sent via overnight express mail, e-mail and fax. We then followed up with each of the retailers at least twice. We also reviewed the company’s websites to assess whether they have any relevant publicly available policies on phthalates.
See the table below for a summary comparison.
Our survey found for the first time that:
- Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, is way ahead of the competition. Home Depot is requiring all of its flooring suppliers to eliminate ortho-phthalates in all virgin vinyl flooring by the end of 2015 in favor of safer substitutes. And as of their first quarter of 2015, they are already more than 85% there. The company has been working with the Mind the Store campaign to develop this policy for over year since the spring of 2014. The company however has yet to address phthalates in recycled vinyl, which accounts for 14% of its vinyl flooring, and is also a concern as phthalates are very commonly present in the recycled vinyl as a contaminant.
- Lumber Liquidators has begun to take action -- they are working with suppliers and seeking new suppliers to transition all non-recycled vinyl floor products to those with alternative plasticizers rather than those containing phthalates. They continue to seek alternatives and are currently testing replacements, however they have not set a formal timeframe for elimination of phthalates. This is in contrast to Home Depot, who has committed to eliminating phthalates in all virgin vinyl flooring by the end of 2015. Like Home Depot, they have yet to address phthalates in recycled vinyl.
- Lowe’s, the nation’s second largest home improvement retailer, did not respond to our letter and has no public policy on phthalates in flooring, unlike both Home Depot and Lumber Liquidators. Lowe’s is clearly lagging behind their #1 competitor, Home Depot, as well as Lumber Liquidators. The company has however begun to engage in dialogue with the Mind the Store campaign.
- Ace Hardware, Build.com, and Menards did not respond to our letters or follow up, and have no public policies on phthalates in flooring, unlike both Home Depot and Lumber Liquidators. All three companies are lagging behind their competitors.
Table 1: Retailer Progress toward Eliminating Phthalates in Vinyl Flooring
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