Friday, June 1, 2012

Vetoing Vinyl

You may (or may not) have read about a recent study showing that certain chemicals in vinyl flooring are absorbed into the bodies of babies who live in homes that contain it. Many of the chemicals found in the flooring have been banned from children's toys and other products because of their known safety risks.

Most articles reporting on the study note that the chemicals are known to cause asthma and allergies. There are many other associated problems, however, as a 2009 report suggests. A team of U.S. and Swedish researchers found that children who lived in homes with vinyl floors were twice as likely to be diagnosed with autism. One of the study's authors noted that the correlation "turned up virtually by accident."  Although the list of known negative health effects associated with vinyl compounds and other chemicals is large, there are undoubtedly many, many more connections between chemical exposures and health waiting to be accidentally discovered.

Vinyl isn't the only unwise flooring choice. Carpet, in particular, can have many problems of its own. One examination of flooring options, however, notes that vinyl flooring (and vinyl-coated wallpaper) were found to be seven times more likely to contain hazardous additives than other "non-plastic" flooring examined. Safer flooring choices include ceramic and stone tile, real linoleum, cork, hardwood and bamboo.

When building or remodeling, every product choice has an impact on the people who enter the building. An attempt to save money at the time of installation can have huge costs later. Let's value the health of people who enter our churches and homes enough to take the issue seriously.

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