Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Are Your Wood Floors Giving You Cancer?

Published on October 23, 2017 by   ·   No Comments Pin It

Many of the floor coatings that have been used to protect wood floors contain carcinogenic and toxic chemicals that emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air.  This comes from a new report by UL Environment, a global independent safety science company. These solvent-based floor coatings have been used in homes, nurseries, workplaces and schools for decades.

These VOCs harm indoor air quality for months after application, putting consumers and vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women at an increased risk for health problems.

Consumers are typically unaware that they are being exposed to these VOCs that can cause respiratory and neurological effects and negative impacts on reproductive and developmental health. UL Environment’s report found that solvent-based coatings emit more than 60 chemicals, including high amount of chemicals that can impact a woman’s fertility, have been linked to cancer, and can cause brain damage and birth defects. Less than 17% of the products sold to consumers are safe: out of the 12 products tested by UL Environment representing the vast majority of the products available to U.S. consumers, only 2 qualify as clean floor coatings.

Although efforts to regulate the use of these solvents has increased in recent years, especially in paint and paint products, a number of solvent-based floor coatings are still on the market in the U.S. In addition, many so-called “low VOC” floor coating products still contain chemicals of potential concern, placing consumers at risk.

The report found that:

  • Solvent-based floor coatings emit up to 11 times more volatile organic compounds than clean water-based coatings 24 hours after the last application.
  • Solvent-based coatings still emit more volatile organic compounds 7 days after application than the clean water-based coatings emit after 1 day. Think you and your family is safe waiting for a week after the last application? Wrong. Solvent-based coatings continue emitting VOCs for months afterwards
  • Solvent-based coatings emit more than 60 chemicals, including high amount of chemicals:
    • 2-ethylhexanoic acid Impacts a woman’s fertility
    • Ethylbenzene, Formaldehyde and Acetaldehyde have been linked to cancer
    • Toluene causes brain damage
  • Even traditional water-based coatings emit high amounts of the chemical N-Methylpyrrolidone or “NMP” which is linked to birth defects, including low birth weight and even miscarriage.
  • Less than 17% of the products sold to consumers are safe. Out of the 12 products tested by UL Labs, representing the vast majority of the products available to U.S. consumers, only 2 qualify as clean floor coatings.

By choosing a water-based floor coating you can:

1)     Reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

2)     Ensure optimal indoor air quality

3)     Protect the health of family members and contractors

4)     Lower harmful emissions

Andrew Meyer is the CEO of Vermont Natural Coatings

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