Products > Flooring
Phthalates (thay-lates) are chemicals used to make vinyl soft and pliable for uses such as roofing membrane, wall covering and flooring. Healthy Building Network began a campaign to remove these chemicals from building products in our seminal 2002 report, Environmental Impacts of PVC Building materials. In 2005 we reported that researchers had demonstrated a link between a mother’s exposure to phthalates and genital deformities in male offspring. Soon phthalates began to be banned from children’s products, though not building products. In 2014 we published a positive assessment of available Phthalate Free Plasticizers in PVC. The next year, after extensive negotiations with the Mind The Store Campaign, a coalition of environmental health groups including HBN, The Home Depot led the big box industry in banning these chemicals from the vinyl flooring sold at retail. This week these groups announced that independent testing of product on the shelves of The Home Depot, Lowes and Lumber Liquidators has confirmed the successful elimination of these toxic compounds from vinyl flooring sold there. Read MoreRead More
HBN created a "cheat sheet" to help connect the dots between our guidance on vinyl flooring and the technical literature produced by manufacturers. Have this sheet at the ready when a vinyl floor is necessary on your next project, and you're looking to make it as healthy as possible.Read More
At your request, we’ve expanded the chart once again to include two variations of ceramic tiles on the market: those manufactured in the USA and those manufactured abroad.Read More
Carpet cushion (that soft layer installed between a sub-floor and a carpet) is made from flexible polyurethane foam (FPF). Generally that foam is recycled scrap from the manufacture of furniture, such as couch cushions, or old carpet cushion itself. Healthy Building Network’s research into current recycling practices for FPF indicates that most post-consumer foam is contaminated with highly toxic flame retardants.Read More
On the Products section of HomeFree -- in addition to individual products -- visitors will now see Common Product Profiles (CPs for short). These CPs inform material selection in construction projects by allowing users to model the potential human health impacts of their material choices prior to installation.Read More
Building occupants, particularly crawling children, can be exposed to flame retardants released from carpet pad. This blog, and accompanying white paper, delve deeper into this issue.Read More
Resilient floors and carpets made today are quite different than those made just a few years ago. On Monday morning, I will join flooring experts from manufacturing firms, architecture and design firms, and hospitals, to discuss these changes at the Healthcare Design Conference in Washington, D.C.Read More
Linoleum flooring is a type of resilient flooring that can be applied with adhesive over a number of different substrates (concrete, seamless floors, tile, marble, approved wood, old resilient flooring, metal). It comes in 2.0 or 2.5 mm thick rolls or in tiles, although the 2.5 mm thickness is most common in commercial products. The linoleum sheet or tile is comprised of linoleum sandwiched between a jute backing and a factory-applied UV-cured lacquer. Linoleum comes in a variety of colors and the color runs through the entire thickness of the tile. This survey focused on white or neutral-colored linoleum; other colors will require the addition of pigments with different CASRNs and potential health hazards. After the linoleum has been installed most products require daily maintenance in the form of mopping, with periodic machine scrubbing and/or buffing. Some linoleum products also need to have polished applied a few times per year. If properly maintained, linoleum flooring will last 35-40 years. Most linoleum contains between 30-43% pre-consumer recycled content in the form of linoleum production scraps and recycled wood/cork powder.View Details
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is a flooring material formed by pressing together a plasticized vinyl base, a layer of plasticized vinyl with a printed design, and a layer of transparent vinyl into a laminated sheet. Before the sheets are cut into square tiles or rectangular planks, a polyurethane topcoat is applied to protect the surface of the floor during its use. Some LVT products may use recycled content in their construction. If post-consumer recycled PVC is among this content, heavy metals, phthalate plasticizers, and other contaminants from the post-consumer recycled PVC waste stream may be present. This CP describes an LVT flooring as was found to be most common in 2016: one which contains neither recycled content, nor orthophthalate plasticizers, but products with this content may still be available and would impact the hazard profile of a specific product. Note that individual products on the market may also incorporate antimicrobial ingredients into the protective top coat of the floor, which could bring additional hazards not captured in this CP.View Details
Both Striations and Migrations lines of resilient flooring are made with a polymer derived in part from plants. Because it is not a vinyl floor, these floors do not contain phthalate plasticizers or heavy metal additives that can be used in VCT.
As with all products, however, customers should read product literature carefully. Marketed as biobased, one might think that the the entire floor or at least a large portion of it is made from a renewable resource. However, a review of product literature reveals this portion to be just 2%.
It’s also important to understand that there are ingredients used in this floor which are undisclosed by the manufacturer. Nearly 7% of the flooring is a polyester polymer of undisclosed identity. However, based on the 93% of the flooring that is disclosed, Healthy Building Network believes selecting this product over a standard VCT floor would avoid the introduction of many significant hazards to a project.