Swedish Study Finds That Living in a House With Vinyl Floors Increases Levels of Phthalates in Pregnant Women

Promo image. Ruberoid flooring

We previously reported that phthalates were linked to miscarriages. Now we know they are linked to flooring.

When we recently discussed 6 different kitchen floors that are healthy and green, we noted that vinyl was off the menu, even though it was, functionally, almost the perfect floor. One of the reasons was that it's softened with phthalates, which are suspected to be endocrine disruptors and, according to some studies, related to the rate of miscarriages. Another study related phthalates to lower IQ levels.

Now a new study out of Sweden, PVC flooring at home and uptake of phthalates in pregnant women, concludes that pregnant women who live in homes with vinyl floors in the kitchens or bedrooms have higher levels of phthalates in their urine.

The study authors remind us that phthalates are not chemically bound to the products they are in, but are mixed in, "and may therefore migrate from the material into the surrounding environment." IKEA sells square miles of vinyl flooring so it is pretty common in Sweden.

The extensive use of PVC flooring in Sweden—in combination with the fact that people spend most of their time indoors (about 90% of the time during winter) whether at home or in work places—raises the question to what degree such materials contribute to human uptake of phthalates. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to investigate whether residential PVC flooring is related to the urinary levels of phthalate metabolites in pregnant women in the Swedish Environmental Longitudinal, Mother and child, Asthma and allergy (SELMA) study.

The study concluded:

This study has found significantly higher urinary levels of the BBzP metabolite (MBzP) in pregnant women living in homes with PVC flooring as compared to other flooring materials. Since BBzP is a regulated phthalate, our findings may bring the awareness of the usage of BBzP.
60s armstrong ad

60s Armstrong flooring ad/Promo image

It should be noted that many manufacturers of what is now called Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) claim that they are phthalate-free. That's why they are tiles instead of sheet goods; they do not need as much plasticizer to soften it up. We are still not fans of vinyl because it is still PVC, but being phthalate-free is a step in the right direction.

But we have one study that says phthalates cause miscarriages and another that says vinyl floors increase the amount of phthalates in pregnant women. It's not a stretch to suggest that this stuff doesn't belong in our homes.