chloride (PVC) or plastic vinyl flooring materials mistakenly referred to as
“linoleum” by most Pinoys were found loaded with heavy metals that are linked
to irreversible brain damage and other health disorders.
The EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Forces on Chemical Safety and Plastics made the
revelation after analyzing 20 PVC flooring samples using a handheld X-Ray
Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, a device that is capable of screening
materials for heavy metals.
The samples were procured by the group from general merchandise stores located
near or within public markets in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City; Paco, Manila
City, Libertad, Pasay City; Novaliches, Quezon City; and in the town of
Sold in a variety of colors, designs and thickness from P65 to 165 per meter or
yard, PVC flooring as a home improvement product (HIP) has gained domestic
popularity because it is attractive, affordable, durable, waterproof and
convenient to install and maintain.
“Consumers are clueless to the many synthetic chemical additives on plastic
vinyl flooring materials that pose danger to children’s health, especially to
babies and toddlers who spend a lot of time indoors often playing or sleeping
on the floor,” said Sonia Mendoza, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force
All the 20 samples had considerable levels of lead, a potent neurotoxin that
can bring about permanent brain damage, and other chemicals of concern such as
antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium that have been linked to birth and
reproductive disorders, learning disabilities, liver damage, asthma and cancer.
“We urge the government to build on our initial findings, conduct further
studies of chemicals in vinyl flooring and come up with a regulation on the
most common HIPs that will protect the health of children, pregnant women and
other vulnerable groups. Making HIPs and other consumer products free of toxics
will make them safer to use, repair or even recycle at the end of their useful
life,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project
Highlights of the findings include:
1. The 20 PVC flooring samples had detectable levels of lead ranging from 95 parts per million (ppm) to 4,462 ppm.
2. Out of the 20 samples, 14 had detectable
levels of antimony (the highest being 2,508ppm), 5had arsenic (highest: 100
ppm), 6 had cadmium (highest: 170 ppm) and 7had
chromium (highest: 1,517 ppm).
3. 19 of the samples had more than one toxic metal above levels of
concern, which increases the potential of toxic harm due to multiple exposures.
4. None of the 20 samples were labeled with information
about their chemical or material content to warn consumers.
The expanded sampling of PVC flooring and other HIPs should cover heavy metals,
organotin stabilizers, brominated flame retardant chemicals and phthalate
plasticizers that are commonly used in the manufacture of such products.
The group expressed concern that a 2010 study by the
Michigan-based Ecology Center showed flooring samples contained numerous
phthalates up to 12.9% by weight, including phthalates that are already banned
in children’s products in US and EU.
Studies have shown the linkages between phthalates and wheezing among preschool
children, phthalates and the disruption of endocrine functions, phthalates and
their adverse impacts on the reproductive system, kidneys, liver and blood. Researches have also illustrated that phthalates
indirectly cause autism.
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest
groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and
chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.