Indoor Air Quality Certifications offer some, but not complete, assurance about vinyl flooring
Q. While I am intrigued by natural, linoleum products, my budget is more inclined toward the Naturcor vinyl flooring I am looking at buying from my local Buddy’s Flooring America store. I also am concerned about buying a product that does not emit excessive chemicals, and I have been warned about dioxin, which is a carcinogen, by another blogger.
Still, I have seen some vinyl brands advertise that they are green. What is the truth about vinyl?
A. The truth about vinyl – or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – is that it isn’t the preferred product of environmentalists or most green product enthusiasts. But dioxin is an end-of-product life or house fire issue, because it is released when PVC is incinerated.
Naturcor, made exclusively for Flooring America by IVC, in addition to a long list of other brands, has achieved FloorScore® Indoor Air Quality Certification. Because this and other indoor air quality certifications only measure chemicals that are classified as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), dioxin is not assessed.
Another criticism of PVC focuses on phthalates, which are thought to affect endocrine functioning. Phthalates also are not classified as VOCs, and are not measured by FloorScore,® according to Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), which conducts the testing.
PVC floors will emit phthalates, or phthalate esters – chemical softeners used in PVC to increase flexibility. But it is thought that drinking out of plastic containers or children mouthing plastic toys is the most common means of exposure from household items and furnishings. Phthalates also are used in a large variety of products, from coating of pharmaceutical pills to food products and textiles. Other types of non chlorinated vinyl, such as PVA, PVB and EVA, pose fewer questions about toxicity.
As for VOC’s that can be emitted by vinyl floors, FloorScore® sets limits for 38 compounds and is based upon California specification 01350. SCS lists certified products on its website. The US EPA also has posted some helpful information about phthalates and dioxins, specific to children’s health.
Some vinyl manufacturers, like Flexco, also are making improved environmental strides by documenting the amount of recycled content in their products, in addition to getting FloorScore® Indoor Air Quality certification. Natural Interiors® member Wanke Cascade distributes Flexco on the northwest US coast. Contact them for a retailer in that area. ©
– Nancy Kibbee is editor at www.naturalinteriors.com