Lead, cadmium and other heavy metals and chemicals have been found in home improvement products such as flooring, tile and wallpaper. Healthystuff.org, a non-profit organization researching toxic chemicals in everyday products tested 1016 flooring products and 2312 types of wallpaper and lead, cadmium and phthalates were found.
In similar testing, Essco Safety Check has also found heavy metals in tile and wallpaper. On July 13, 2010 Essco Safety Check posted a blog entitled “Warning to homeowners, renovators, and contractors: beware of lead and other heavy metals in tile.” The State of Washington Department of Commerce Lead Lines Volume 3, Issue 1 October 2010 published (on page 3) Essco Safety Checks findings on tile and our recommendations to contractors and homeowners.
There are currently no federal standards for lead, cadmium or phthalates in home improvement products, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Yet there are regulations for lead in children’s products, currently with a total content limit of 300ppm and 90ppm for painted surfaces.
As long as the tile is not disturbed, or children are directly “licking” the surface of the tile, there should be no direct harm. However, if the tile is disturbed or children have direct hand-to-mouth or direct mouth contact, there is a potential for harm.
There are new federal regulations regarding lead found in properties older than 1978. The renovation, repair and painting rule (RRP) went into effect to address lead dust hazards created during renovation of properties older than 1978, this rule only applies to painted surfaces. Tile, flooring and wallpaper are not considered painted surfaces, but each can potentially possess harmful heavy metals of chemicals.
Healthystuff.org found that more than half of the wallpaper tested contained one or more hazardous chemicals and that 1 in 8 contained cadmium above 100ppm. Of the vinyl flooring testing, 15% contained one or more hazardous chemicals compared to 8% for non-vinyl flooring. Healthstuff.org found that linoleum, cork, bamboo and hardwood floorings all tested negative for lead and cadmium.
In similar testing, Essco Safety Check has found tile to contain lead with a total content limit of over 2.4%, testing was done using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analyzer.
Additionally, we have found lead and cadmium to be present in wallpaper. This testing was not done on new wallpaper, but wallpaper found currently in people’s homes. In one case, we found that the wallpaper present in several parts of a home contained lead, cadmium antimony and was found to be PVC which may indicate the presence of phthalates.
Know what is in your environment and mitigate harm!