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Report Reveals Most Floor Coatings Emit Toxic Chemicals Harmful to Human Health and the Environment

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HARDWICK, VT, Nov. 1, 2017- Vermont Natural Coatings, the industry leader in durable, safe wood finishes, applauds a report released today by UL Environment that revealed many floor coatings used to protect wood floors in homes, nurseries, workplaces and schools across the country release high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These VOCs negatively impact indoor air quality for weeks, even months after application, putting consumers, contractors and vulnerable populations – such as children, the elderly and pregnant women – at an increased risk for health problems.

“This report confirms that most wood floor finishes in homes, schools and the workplace are toxic and have no place on the shelves of retailers,” said Andrew B. Meyer, founder and president of Vermont Natural Coatings. “Federal, state and local governments and leading manufacturers and retailers need to make clear the dangers consumers face when purchasing or using these finishes.”

UL Environment, a global independent research and testing organization, found more than 80% of commercially-available wood finishes release high levels of toxic chemicals into the air. Traditional solvent-based floor coatings emit more than 60 chemicals, including some linked to cancer, brain damage, birth defects and asthma. Even traditional water-based coatings emit chemicals like N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) which is linked to birth defects and miscarriage.

The report stated that most consumers are completely unaware that certain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) negatively impact indoor air quality for weeks, even months after application, putting consumers and contractors at risk.

The report comes days after The Home Depot announced a new Chemical Strategy to phase out products with harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and lead from several product categories. Unfortunately, The Home Depot’s plan fails to address many of the dangerous chemicals found in wood floor coatings.

Researchers at UL’s indoor air quality laboratory tested wood floor coatings derived from the three major coating chemistries currently used in the U.S. market. They found fewer than 17 percent of the products sold to consumers are safe. Only two water-based coatings qualified as clean water-based coatings, the report said.

“As Vermonters, we protect our environment and revere the quality of life it provides,” continued Meyer. “Every gallon we manufacture reflects these values. It’s time the coatings industry did the same.”

Vermont Natural Coatings is a locally based, environmentally sustainable business producing PolyWhey® naturally derived wood finishes without any toxic chemicals. PolyWhey is a patented formula using whey, a byproduct of cheese making, as its transformative ingredient. PolyWhey began as collaboration among farmers, furniture makers and scientists at the University of Vermont. The company has advocated for strict indoor air quality standards and lobbied the wood finish industry to manufacture finishes that are free of all carcinogens and mutagens. It was the only coatings industry company to support enactment of California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District’s safe architectural and industrial coatings standards. 


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