Vinyl Flooring & Wallpaper Equal Major Health Threat for Children

by , 10/20/10

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HealthyStuff.org researchers released a new study yesterday, which found an excess of lead, phthalates, cadmium, organotins and many other harmful and toxic ingredients in vinyl flooring, wallpaper and other building materials that children frequently come into contact with at home and school, posing a major health threat. Keep reading to learn more about this new study, the largest of its kind to date, including details of the health risks and ways to limit your child’s exposure to these harmful chemicals.

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What the research found:

The nonprofit Ecology Center tested over 1,000 flooring samples and nearly 2,300 types of wallpaper. The Ecology Center was specifically looking for substances that are knowingly linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. After comparing chemicals found in PVC vinyl, wood, bamboo, cork, carpet cushion, sheet flooring and ceramic tile flooring, the Ecology Center found the following:

  • Most vinyl flooring samples tested contain four phthalate plasticizers recently banned in children’s products. National brands, such as Armstrong and Congoleum, along with discount brands were tested and phthalates made equaled up to 8.5% by weight of the flooring materials. Most of the PVC wallpaper sampled also contained banned phthalates plasticizers.
  • PVC building materials tested were seven times more likely to contain hazardous chemical additives than non-vinyl alternatives.
  • The vast majority, 96%, of wallpaper samples contained polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coatings.
  • Two-thirds of all PVC flooring tiles tested contained organotin stabilizers. Some forms of organotins are endocrine disruptors; and other forms can impact the developing brain and are toxic to the immune system.
  • Over half of the PVC wallpaper samples contained one or more hazardous chemicals of concern, including lead, chromium, tin and antimony. Nearly one in five wallpaper samples contained detectable levels of cadmium.
  • 52 of 1,016 of all flooring samples had detectable levels of lead. Some flooring contained more lead than others though, such as vinyl sheet flooring and vinyl tile flooring.

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