Lowe’s Urged To Drop Flooring Made With Phthalates Due To Health Concerns

Researchers say they have found potentially toxic chemicals are commonplace in vinyl flooring, resulting in calls for Lowe’s and other retailers to follow Home Depot’s lead by ensuring that the chemicals are removed from their products. 

The study was conducted by researchers from the non-profit group, The Ecology Center. According to the findings (PDF), most vinyl flooring tested contained phthalates, at levels that exceed those considered safe by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Researchers took 65 flooring samples from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Lumber Liquidators, indicating that phthalates were found in 38 (58%) of the samples tested.

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In response to the growing concerns, Hope Depot is requiring its suppliers to eliminate the chemicals from its flooring by the end of the year. The Ecology Center is urging other retailers to do so as well.

“We congratulate The Home Depot on this landmark initiative,” said Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals, Health Families, in a press release by The Ecology Center. “As the world’s largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot’s new policy sends a strong signal to the marketplace that retailers want healthier building materials free of harmful chemicals like phthalates. We call on Lowe’s and other major home improvement retailers to join Home Depot in phasing out phthalates in flooring.”

Phthalates are a class of industrial compounds commonly known as plasticizers. The chemicals are often used to make plastic more flexible or to help cosmetics slide on more smoothly. They are known endocrine disruptors, which interfere with the natural way the body regulates and produces hormones.

Phthalates are found in food packaging, detergents, textiles, plastic tubing used in hospitals to deliver medications, the coatings on pills, including some aspirin, and many other products. The pervasive availability of the chemicals allows many more people to become exposed to the harmful effects.

Prior studies have found phthalates may contribute to a slew of side effects, including birth defects, cancer, diabetes and infertility.

Lumber Liquidators Formaldehyde Flooring

The concerns over phthalates comes as some experts suggest that some flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators may contains high levels of formaldehyde. A growing number of Lumber Liquidator flooring lawsuits have been filed in recent months, alleging that thousands of homes and businesses nationwide may be impacted by the potentially harmful chemical.

Formaldehyde is a chemical used to manufacture building materials, resins, household products and is used as an embalming agent. It is classified as a probable carcinogen by the EPA and was determined by the National Academy of Sciences to cause cancer in humans. However, the EPA has never passed regulations which set acceptable formaldehyde gas levels for flooring.

Common symptoms of exposure to formaldehyde may include respiratory symptoms, eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, chest pain, vomiting and rashes. The chemical has been linked to some forms of cancer and leukemia.

Investigators with a nonprofit group called Global Community Monitor says it tested more than 150 boxes of Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring at various stores around California. Researchers said that, on average, the Chinese-made laminate flooring contained more than six to seven times the state standard for formaldehyde. Some samples contained nearly 20 times the acceptable amount of formaldehyde, the researchers warned.

A number of states are launching investigations into Lumber Liquidators flooring as a result of the 60 Minutes segment and complaints from consumers. Attorneys general in both New York and Connecticut have recently announced probes into the flooring and Lumber Liquidator’s business practices, and officials in California say they are considering an investigation as well.

Lumber Liquidators has continued to defend the quality of its flooring. On its webpage, the company has issued a statement claiming that it’s flooring is safe and legal and posted its own test results indicating that its flooring meets state standards.


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