Lead, Phthalates, Other Toxic Chemicals in Wallpaper and Flooring, Group Says

The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, which is known for having discovered high lead levels in toys, recently tested 3,300 wallpaper and flooring samples and found high le<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">ad, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and phthalates levels, reported FreeP. The group pointed out that these compounds are dangerous to all humans, especially children.

The Ecology Center said its findings strongly suggest that restrictions should be in place on these dangerous compounds, which are present in many home improvement products, wrote FreeP. Four phthalates were banned in 2008 and there are lead limitations in place; however, no other prohibitions exist, noted FreeP.

One issue, said Jeff Gearhart, the Center’s research director, is that parents can purchase a phthalate-free rubber ducky for their children who could also be playing on a floor in which a child can be exposed to a banned, dangerous substance, without limits, said FreeP.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which said it had not yet looked at the study, warned that just because a product contains these chemicals does not mean it is dangerous, wrote FreeP. Many disagree.

The Center’s testing also discovered lead in ceramic tile glazes as well as four different types of phthalates in vinyl flooring. Also, most wallpapers tested contained phthalates and almost half contained medium-to-high levels of lead, cadmium, chromium, tin, or antimony, according to FreeP.

Only 0.1-percent phthalates are permitted in children’s products, yet some flooring products contained about 13 percent; phthalates have been linked to increased asthma and autism rates, noted FreeP. Phthalates and heavy metals have also been linked to hormone disruption, including early puberty; “birth defects; learning disabilities; liver toxicity; and reproductive issues,” said FreeP.

Significantly, children spend most of their time on floors, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, wrote FreeP. According to Gearhart the chemical and metal exposure in home improvement products occurs as they break down in time; for instance, vinyl flooring degrades with foot traffic and cleaning, as do lead-containing glazes used on ceramic tiling, said FreeP. Plasticizers in wallpaper coating contain phthalates are released over time into the air, noted Gearhart.

We recently wrote that Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers learned that exposure to three common chemical classes—phenols, phthalates, and phytoestrogens—in young girls, can result in adverse physical effects, including disruption in pubertal development, which can lead to later complications.

Lead causes behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, digestive problems, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. Lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death.

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