Know Your Flooring: Choosing Safe Materials

2015 was a headline-making year for flooring. A study in 2015 found that a startling number of vinyl flooring products sold at large retailers contained a toxic form of phthalate plasticizer. Multiple high profile studies were published that examined the use of high-phthalate ingredients in flooring. Big box American stores like Lowes and Home Depot were even found to have toxic phthalates in their flooring products. This means, for example, flooring that has been constructed with phthalates has the potential to emit toxins into the air and in a consumer’s home.

Plasticizers are polymer compounds that provide flexibility and softness to products like flooring. Within plasticizers are industrial chemicals called phthalates that add flexibility to many products like flooring, automotive parts, and other plastic based products. Phthalate plasticizers can leach or migrate into the air because they are not bonded to vinyl.

The term plasticizers might sound foreign to you but the compound can be found in many common household items. For example, you can find plasticizers in wall coverings, roofing materials, automotive parts and even medical devices. What may be unsettling is that these compounds are linked to several adverse health effects from respiratory infections to cancer.

While the United States has taken strides to expose the dangers of toxic ingredients in flooring, the rest of the world is lagging behind. The plasticizer industry continues to grow and is expected to reach almost $20 Billion by 2020. The Asia-Pacific market is a dominant participant in the plasticizer market.

What this means is that that region is particularly susceptible to continuing to choose toxic flooring. Many retailers and suppliers of construction materials, including flooring either are not aware of the danger of phthalate plasticizers, or worse they choose to disregard the risk. Whether due to lack of education about the toxicity of certain flooring materials, or due to greed, this makes India and Southeast Asia vulnerable.

Span Floors is committed to providing the safest flooring materials to designers, builders, and architects. We know that our flooring will make its way into homes and businesses where people will be breathing the air daily. Knowing that our flooring is free of hazards is part of our mission. We also aim to educate the industry in India and beyond about the importance of responsible flooring procurement. Being certain that flooring is free of unsafe ingredients is a cornerstone of our mission.

You can take part in a movement to ensure that new construction and renovation projects are founded on safe, non-toxic materials. Here are some ways to ensure your flooring selection is responsible.

How to ensure you select safe flooring:

  • For maximum safety, avoid vinyl flooring that contains phthalates. Your flooring supplier should be aware and educated about the materials and construction of their flooring options. Create an open dialogue about the ingredients in the flooring you are considering for your home or construction project.
  • Ensure your flooring supplier does not use recycled vinyl material, as this material is a common carrier of phthalates. For wood flooring, buy only from reputed brands who are sourcing from top manufacturers in the developed countries. It has been found that certain suppliers in the emerging markets are indulging in false certifications. Regulations in developed world are comparatively strict and such chances are quiet low.
  • Ask your supplier what certification and standards they adhere too. For example, Span Floors only uses the highest standard flooring products that pass safety regulations in the industry and which are further 3rd party certified.
  • Be wary of bargain flooring providers. Flooring that is at a steep discount has likely been procured through unsafe practices, illegal wood sourcing or it may contain hazardous ingredients.

Span Floors is a company that values its customers first. This means that responsible flooring practices must be followed at all times. We aim to spread the message that flooring must first be safe before it should ever be considered for a building project. Once we determine a flooring product and supplier passes our strict standards, then we find the most beautiful and luxurious product. The result is an interior that has integrity and longevity.

Satinder Chawla

About Satinder Chawla

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