Flooring

This section is organized by types of flooring. Not all products falling into these categories contain the chemical hazards described below. Check the flooring section for healthier versions of these types of flooring. Again, ventilation is important, especially because in smaller spaces the risk of fire can increase greatly.

Laminates

Hazards: PBT; cancer; gene damage; asthma trigger; skin and eye irritant; birth defects.

Source: formaldehyde binders; VOCs in adhesives; heavy metal contaminants in imported laminates.

Recommended Protections: industrial respirator; eye protection; gloves; ventilation.

Engineered wood

Hazards: cancer; asthma trigger.

Source: formaldehyde binders; isocyanates; VOCs in finishes.

Recommended Protections: industrial respirator; eye protection; gloves; ventilation.

Hardwood

Hazards: cancer; asthma trigger; endocrine disruption.

Source: aluminum oxide protective layer; antimicrobials; VOCs in finishes.

Recommended Protections: industrial respirator; eye protection; gloves; ventilation.

Vinyl

Hazards: PBT; lead poisoning; cancer; developmental problems and birth defects; reproductive disruptor; decrease fertility; kidney damage; bone loss.

Source: phthalates; heavy metal stabilizers; halogenated flame retardants; VOCs in finishes.

Recommended Protections: industrial respirator; eye protection; gloves; ventilation.

Ceramic

Hazards: PBT; bacterial resistance; endocrine disruption.

Source: antimicrobials; heavy metal contaminants in imported tiles.

Recommended Protections: industrial respirator; eye protection; gloves; ventilation.

Natural Linoleum

Hazards: None

Carpet

Hazards: PBT; bacterial resistance; cancer; developmental problems and birth defects; reproductive disruptor; respiratory problems.

Source: coal fly ash filler in backings; antimicrobials; vinyl backings.

Recommended Protections: industrial respirator; eye protection; gloves; ventilation.

Installation Process (adhesives/sanding sealer/varnish)

Hazards: fire or explosion; PBT; developmental and reproductive toxicity; endocrine disruptor; infertility; cancer; asthma trigger; respiratory problems; skin dermatitis and/or sensitization.

Source: VOCs; phthalates; bisphenol A (BPA); nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs); isocyanates; organotin; silica; cyclosiloxanes.

Recommended Protections: industrial respirator; eye protection; gloves; ventilation.

PBT = Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic chemical, meaning it won’t break down in the environment and builds up in quantity along the food chain.