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Retailer Changes Vinyl Flooring Policy

Monday, November 23, 2015

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Lumber Liquidators has teamed up with a chemical safety campaign to ensure it sells vinyl flooring made without reprocessed plastic.

The Virginia-based flooring retailer has been working with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, to develop standards for vinyl flooring that are expected to be phased in over the next year, according to a Nov. 17 statement from the organization.

The recent commitment was a piece of positive news from a company that has had a difficult year.

Vinyl Standards

According to the statement, Lumber Liquidators adopted new standards that require that the company’s suppliers of vinyl flooring to provide only flooring that is free from reprocessed vinyl plastic and limit lead in flooring to less than 100 parts per million.

By Dwight Burdette / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Lumber Liquidators has committed to selling vinyl flooring that is not made from reprocessed plastic, according to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

The flooring company also has required its suppliers to eliminate the use of ortho-phthalates in all vinyl flooring purchased and has committed to use independent lab testing provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to monitor compliance, the organization said.

The policies were developed with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Family’s Mind the Store campaign, which the organization said was established to challenge retailers to sell products that do not contain toxic chemicals.

“Lumber Liquidators is committed to setting the highest standards for the sourcing of flooring products,” said Jill Witter, chief compliance and legal officer of Lumber Liquidators, in the safety group’s statement. “We are pleased to work with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families on this initiative, as part of our ongoing efforts to lead the industry forward with responsible sourcing practices.”

Shift Away From Plastic Waste

The organization said it was pleased that one of the leading floor retailers in the U.S. was making a commitment to sell what it considers to be healthier flooring.

“This is a positive step and we hope other major flooring and home improvement retailers will join Lumber Liquidators in eliminating this unnecessary plastic,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

©iStock.com / popovaphoto

According to the advocacy group, reprocessed vinyl plastic can be contaminated with lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, phthalates and other toxic chemicals.

According to the advocacy group, the Ecology Center in Michigan found that reprocessed vinyl plastic can be contaminated with lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, phthalates and other toxic chemicals. The group said at least 69 percent of vinyl floor inner layers provided by six retailers tested positive for elevated lead concentrations.

In those cases, the group said, testing revealed lead levels as high as 10,000 ppm and cadmium levels at 20,000 ppm. Safer Chemicals, Health Families cited a recent Healthy Building Network report that said the contamination was the result of global trade in plastic waste, which can be recovered from the wires and cables of electronics such as old computers.

Company Concerns

As previously reported, Lumber Liquidators has been under fire for most of the year as it faces accusations that certain composite flooring products it sells contain an excessive amount of formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a chemical used to manufacture building materials and household products. The chemical can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. High levels of exposure may cause cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lumber Liquidators

The Virginia-based company has had a rough year, including a report about its products containing formaldehyde; the sudden resignation of its CEO; and a $10 million settlement with the DOJ.

Lumber Liquidators suspended sale of certain flooring products made in China after a 60 Minutes report alleged that those products did not meet California emissions standards despite product labels indicating that they did. More than 100 lawsuits piled up against the company, reports indicated.

The company’s CEO, Robert M. Lynch, suddenly resigned in May.

Then, in October, the company acknowledged that it had reached a $10 million settlement with the Department of Justice after a two-year investigation unveiled that Lumber Liquidators had imported more timber that it was allowed from eastern Russia and other areas. The company also said it would plead guilty to charges that it had broken the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act, as previously reported, protects fish and wildlife and their parts or products. In 2008, the Act—which came on the books in 1900 as the nation’s first federal law protecting wildlife—was expanded to include a wider variety of prohibited plants and plant products, which included products made from illegally logged woods for import.

   

Tagged categories: Ethics; Floors; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Lead; Vinyl

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (11/23/2015, 2:09 PM)

I thought that brominated flame retardants and phthalates were normal ingredients in many plastic based building materials, here they are being called 'contaminants'.


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