Question

I'm considering Karndean vinyl flooring for our house. They say their product is LEED certified but I'm still a little nervous about using v

Asked by Rona Bennett
Honolulu, HI

They say their product is LEED certified but I'm still a little nervous about using vinyl. It is also low VOC. Does anyone know more about this company and their products? Is it really safe to use?

Answer

Jason Kliwinski

Answered by Jason Kliwinski

Lambertville, NJ

The Green Living and Building Center

July 24, 2014

Safe is a matter of perspective. Their product contains recycled content and is Greenguard certified to be low VOC so in that sense, it has some better environmental attributes than not and will contribute to earning some LEED points because of these qualities. There is no such thing as a "LEED Certified Product". LEED does not certify products, it only awards points for projects that use products with sustainable qualities. If you know how PVC is made (the primary component in their flooring) and the pollution to the environment it can cause during construction as well as after it's useful life, vinyl flooring is an environmental concern, not to mention the potential health affects of vinyl chloride which is the primary ingredient in PVC and can offgas at room temperature as well as be absorbed through the skin. As an architect I specify lots of different products and manufacturers. I try to stay away from vinyl all together. The EPA has a lot of information on vinyl at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/vinylchl.html and the potential risks to you as a pregnant woman and to your children who will likely crawl around on this floor is too great to chance in my opinion. The list of health risks from vinyl chloride is extensive. Anyone from the vinyl industry will dispute this I am sure but the EPA website and all of my research and experience in sourcing and specifying truly sustainable products would suggest that a naturally finished wood floor, ceramic tile, organic carpet, cork or linoleum would be much healthier and safer choice.

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