Is vinyl plank flooring toxic?
Building a new home or renovating the home you currently reside in will leave you with many decisions, some of which will be critical to both the air quality in this environment and the health of those that are exposed to this tainted air on a daily basis. Building materials are among one of the most hazardous items to an indoor environment – as they are packed full of potentially toxic materials that will overtime release dangerous chemicals into the air of this enclosed area. From new paint, new furniture, wall additions inside the home, and even the removal and replacing of new flooring can all be potential sources of the entrance of hazardous chemicals into the indoor air of your home.
Selecting a non-toxic flooring
Flooring is an item inside your home that can be filled with a mix of different chemicals that can release into the air and pollute the air quality indoors. Indoor air pollution and air quality have become a major concern in recent years as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has conducted extensive research to show that many indoor environments can actually be more polluted and more toxic than that of outdoor environments.
When it comes to the installation of new flooring into a home this building material will release potentially toxic chemicals into the environment that are known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). These VOCs can become airborne into the air and significantly taint the indoor air quality – and thus it is important to do your research to select a non-toxic flooring inside your home that will not pollute and taint your indoor air quality.
Disadvantages of vinyl flooring
Is vinyl flooring toxic? When it comes to selecting the ideal flooring for your home, many consumers are opting for vinyl flooring that is durable, versatile, and cost effective that will save you some major money. However, this type of flooring although it seems like the perfect flooring to select in your home, it actually is packed full of toxic chemicals that can pollute your indoor air and possibly effect the health of those exposed to this environment. A recent study that was conducted found that vinyl flooring contains toxic chemicals that include phthalates, lead, flame retardants, and VOCs like formaldehyde that will off gas into the air after the installation process in a home and taint the indoor air quality to hazardous levels.
Over 14 billion pounds of vinyl flooring is manufactured in the United States each year and installed into homes and other indoor spaces. This can lead to a lot of environments that are plagued with toxic chemicals in the air that are produced through off gassing that can take place for a long period of time after the installation is completed. Vinyl flooring will also produce other hazardous chemicals into the air from the adhesives that are used to install the flooring. These adhesives will contain lead and other VOCs that once it becomes acclimated to room temperature will turn into a gas and consequently off gas into the air.
is vinyl flooring toxic
Vinyl flooring toxic fumes
Vinyl tile flooring is constructed of new or recycled polyvinyl chloride or PVC that is known to be one of the most environmentally hazardous consumer materials that are produced for flooring. The PVC will create a large number of toxic chemicals like dioxins and phthalates that are released into the air and can produce toxic fumes into the environment. The chemical fume that is produced from this type of flooring is a result of off-gassing that releases the chemical into the air and affects indoor air quality, and as it releases this chemical it will create a pungent odor that will permeate throughout the entire indoor space.
The End of Vinyl’s Life Cycle
Waste: The durability of vinyl is a liability when it comes to disposing of this material. It is not biodegradable, and when it is sent to a waste facility it generally just sits there, taking up space for years. In some cases vinyl materials can be used as liners for garbage dumps, allowing them to contain waste materials that might otherwise spill out beyond their defined perimeters.
Recyclability: It is nearly impossible to recycle most vinyl materials. That is because the recycling process requires you to have a consistent level of various substances throughout the material makeup of the vinyl. Unfortunately, different types of vinyl have different chemical compositions, often making them incompatible. This is compounded by the adhesives which are usually stuck to the vinyl when old floors are lifted from underlayment layers.
In some cases, manufacturers are getting around this issue by using lower quality recycled vinyl materials as filler underneath the surface layer. These layers don’t get exposed to foot traffic or spills and therefore do not require the chemical consistency that top layers need.
Flooring Toxins Contaminate Indoors
The plasticizers that are found in vinyl floors are not just bound to the planks themselves. That is the risk that most studies have attempted to unravel.
Phthalate plasticizers are not chemically bound to vinyl, they can leach, migrate or evaporate into indoor air and concentrate in household dust. This is why they pose a more serious risk to children, pets, the elderly and even pregnant women.
General contamination easily occurs through dermal exposure, inhalation, and ingestion. Kids that like crawling and picking things up the toxic vinyl plank flooring are therefore the most exposed to the risk of the toxic phthalates.
Why is vinyl flooring hazardous?
A recent study found that most vinyl flooring, made from reprocessed plastic, contained toxic phthalates, lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals. These chemicals can contribute to indoor air pollution by drifting out of the flooring and into the air and dust inside homes.
What to look for when purchasing flooring
- Instead of carpet, chose hard-surfaced flooring and rugs that can be removed and cleaned outside.
- Look for non-toxic and eco-friendly options. Ask questions of manufacturers and installers regarding materials used, safety and environmental claims.
- Decline any stain-resistance treatments.
- Look for products made without vinyl such as hardwood, linoleum and ceramic tile.