Indoor air quality is an important consideration, especially since we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors. The EPA says that in the average home, levels of organic pollutants are two to five times higher than outdoors.
So what causes such poor indoor air quality? A plethora of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that off-gas from pesticides, cleaning chemicals, paint, non-stick pans, upholstery, mattresses, particle board furniture and carpets.
But let’s not forget about hard-surface vinyl (PVC) flooring. I’m sure you can instantly recall that overwhelming new shower curtain smell, right? Well, it’s the same material often found in floor tiles signaling that a chemical off-gassing process is underway.
PVC has become known as the “poison plastic” because it’s full of toxic chemicals such as phthalates, chlorine, dioxin and lead. A CHEJ study found that this vinyl can release as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals into the air. Some of these chemicals can cause developmental damage as well as damage to the liver and central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.
Although vinyl flooring looks and feels much like linoleum, it’s made from synthetic, petroleum-based materials. It’s popular because it can be made to look like other materials like tile and wood.
But linoleum, on the other hand, is an eco-friendly choice that has been around since the 1800′s. It’s durable, biodegradable and made with natural materials such as linseed oil, limestone, tree resins, natural pigments, wood flour and jute. It’s a safer flooring option that is making a comeback because of its sustainable, recyclable nature.