FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Largest-Ever Study Finds Flooring & Wallpaper Contain Hazardous Chemicals Lead, Phthalates, Cadmium, and Other Harmful Chemicals Detected
Group Calls for Stronger Regulations of Toxic Chemicals in Consumer ProductsOct 19, 2010
For More Information Contact:
Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, Washington Toxics Coalition, 206-854-7623, firstname.lastname@example.orgSusanna Schultz, Ecohaus Inc., 206-315-1958, email@example.com
(Seattle, WA) – Researchers today released results of chemical tests performed on over 1,000 flooring samples and nearly 2,300 types of wallpaper, finding many of the products contain chemicals linked to serious health problems, including asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. The results of the tests conducted by the Michigan-based Ecology Center are available on the easy-to-use consumer website – www.HealthyStuff.org – which also includes prior research on toys, pet products, cars, women’s handbags, back-to-school products and children’s car seats.
“These tests are a warning to homeowners that ‘Home Sweet Home’ might not be ‘Home Safe Home’. Toxic chemicals we know are harmful are in home improvement products. We don’t want these chemicals in children’s toys and we certainly don’t want them in floors where children play,” said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, campaign director with the Washington Toxics Coalition.
HealthyStuff.org tested home improvement products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. Chemicals tested include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (PVC), cadmium, arsenic, tin (organotins), pththalates and mercury. People spend about 90% of their time indoors; so indoor concentrations of hazardous chemicals can be more relevant to human exposure assessment than ambient concentrations.
HealthyStuff.org’s testing of flooring and wallpaper revealed:
- Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals were commonly found in residential flooring and wallpaper.
- Products made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic were 2-30 times more likely to contain hazardous chemicals, compared to non-vinyl alternatives.
- Fifteen percent of vinyl flooring products and 34% of vinyl wallpapers had detectable levels of one or more hazardous chemicals. Over one-half of PVC wallpaper samples contained one or more hazardous chemicals of concern (over 40 ppm) including lead, cadmium, chromium and antimony.
- Phthalates -- chemical additives used to soften PVC products -- were found in most vinyl flooring and wallpaper tested, raising a number of health concerns. For example, a 2008 European study (Kolarik 2008) found an association between concentrations of phthalates in indoor dust and wheezing among preschool children, especially when PVC flooring was in the child’s bedroom.
- Many home improvement products do not contain dangerous substances, proving that safe products can be made. Linoleum, cork, bamboo and hardwood all tested free of lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous metals.
Home improvement products are largely unregulated for chemical hazards. The federal law regulating chemicals in consumer products, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), has not been updated for over 30 years and has been unable to keep up with changing science on toxic chemicals.
“In our mission to deliver real,
safe alternatives to the commonplace finish materials, we have developed a rigorous product selection process
and consistent standards to keep products that contain carcinogenic, hormone
disrupting or bio-accumulative chemicals off the shelves,” says Susanna
Schultz, Events and Outreach Manager for Ecohaus. “Many people believe that
toxins are a necessary evil, but our selection proves that it is possible to
have high-performance products without compromising your air-quality or the
health of your home.
“It’s not enough to just get toxic chemicals out of products specifically designed for kids. Kids are exposed to chemicals throughout their day in many different products. The government needs to strengthen standards for all chemicals so that children and families are adequately protected,” said Sager-Rosenthal.
To sample the home improvement products experts used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer and laboratory testing. XRF is an accurate device that has been used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to screen packaging; the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to screen food; and many State and County Health Departments to screen for residential lead paint. Additional samples were analyzed by laboratories using EPA test methods.
response to the increasing consumer demand for safer products, Senator Frank
Lautenberg and Representatives Bobby Rush and Henry Waxman have introduced
bills to overhaul TSCA. The Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate and the Toxic
Chemicals Safety Act in the House are expected to be re-introduced in the next
The full home improvement database and more information about what consumers can do is available at www.HealthyStuff.org.
The Washington Toxics Coalition is a statewide non-profit organization that protects public health and the environment by eliminating toxic pollution. www.watoxics.org
Since 1992, Ecohaus has provided homeowners and professionals the best in green building and remodeling supplies. As one of the first such storefronts in the nation, Ecohaus has been a pivotal player in the industry, introducing eco-friendly products to consumers and working with innovators in the field to bring their high-quality, sustainable products to market. Ecohaus has stores in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR and San Francisco, CA. To learn more, visit Ecohaus online at www.ecohaus.com or reach them by phone at 1.877.4.ecohaus.