Whether you’re a DIY’er or having your child’s nursery (or any other part of your home) renovated or decorated professionally, you might want to take a look at the recent study done by HealthyStuff.org and the Ecology Center on the toxic chemicals found in flooring and wallpaper.
HealthyStuff.org tested a whopping 3,300 home improvement products – 1,106 samples of flooring, and 2,312 samples of wallpaper.
None of the products tested are currently subject to any regulation regarding toxic chemical contents. In fact, the database of the results is the largest publicly available database of toxic chemicals in home improvement products.
The results were pretty amazing. Here are the overall findings from the horse’s mouth:
“Heavy metals and other additives are commonly found in residential flooring and wallpaper. These chemicals include lead, cadmium, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates — harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer.
“Home improvement products are largely unregulated for chemical hazards and contain hazardous chemicals additives, called phthalates, at levels prohibited in children’s products by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC prohibits the presence of 6 phthalates in children’s products at levels greater then 1,000 ppm.
“PVC building materials were 7-times more likely to contain hazardous additives, compared to non-vinyl alternatives tested in this study. All PVC materials tested – 1,350 of 3,019 contained hazardous additives; Non-PVC materials – 18 of 273.
“Over 1/2 (53% – 1,234 of 2,312) and 15% (119 of 793) of flooring had one or more hazardous chemical additives.
“Levels of hazardous chemical additives in flooring and wallpaper are commonly found in household air and dust at levels 5-100 times higher then outdoor concentrations.”
You’ll probably recognize ‘phthalates’ – they were recently banned in crib mattresses and other children’s products. Three types of phthalates were banned in some types of children’s products, and six in others (anything a child under 12 might put in their mouth.) The ban covers a wide range of products – everything from the vinyl waterproof covering on many crib mattresses (not in Naturepedic crib mattresses, of course) to the rubber ducky your little one plays with in the bath. According to the study, nearly half of the PVC/vinyl products tested contained hazardous additives – which would include phthalates – so it’s not just the products that were banned we have to worry about.
Looking at renos? Watch out for hazardous chemicals. Your best bet is to look for companies that don’t use them in their products. Also, check out the full HealthyStuff.org study. You can search the product results by brand, type and levels of detection.