I read some research lately that really got my attention, particularly this paragraph:
'Research from 2009 discovered that infants who lived in homes with vinyl floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later, compared to those with wood or linoleum flooring. Vinyl floors can emit chemicals called phthalates, which are widely used plastic softeners found in much more than just vinyl flooring. Hairsprays, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, shower curtains, wood finishers, lubricants, certain medical devices and more all contain phthalates. Researchers have suggested the chemicals may contribute to autism by disrupting hormones not only in small children but also in the womb'
Source: Mercola and seen also on 'The Doctors' tv show.
I have read this other times in many books on detoxifying your environment but this new research adds an extra sting to it. Vinyl flooring offgasses into your home and continues to do so for most of its life, so it isn't just when it is new. You cannot cover it or paint it to stop it offgassing (believe me I have looked into it as we have it in our apartment). The only remedy is to remove it. Get it right out of your house.
I have a friend who had vinyl floors in her house and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. On researching, she ripped up the vinyl floors and replaced them and lo and behold the sleep apnea and all the symptoms immediately left and have never reappeared. I'm sure there are many other stories out there also. It's scary.
I'm not going to go into great detail with this, the research is all out there and available. For me, now, it's just a matter of knowing how to respond to this information and the seriousness of it as we are renting. We found a place that has low VOC paints and is green friendly but they lost the plot and resorted to cheaper alternatives after the first building. So we still have the low VOC paint and recycled wood benches etc but we got the cheap carpet with toxic glues and the vinyl flooring instead of the tiles they initially were using. And while I'm complaining about the apartment I'll add in the toxic cigarette fumes from all the neighbours around us that smoke on their balconies dropping their ash on our garden. The joys of apartment living.
For me, we need to change, but I don't know what right now. I guess for all of us, change has to be gradual because we aren't millionaires able to create the perfectly safe home immediately. I have made many changes this last year and it all makes a difference. The big ones left we need to deal with in our environment are: vinyl flooring, bed and linen, carpets, couch. I'm slowly getting organic linen and changing over. The flooring and carpet are beyond our control as it's an apartment and our couch? well.. it's fairly new so I don't know how we'll get around that and its nasty flame retardants.
The Safe Alternatives are:
1. Ceramic Tiles - make sure the grout and glues etc are non toxic though. You can also get Ceramic tiles that look like wood which is really cool. I found it on pinterest here. I have no idea if that finish is safe or not though.
2. Wool untreated carpets - again if glue is used it needs to be safe glue as glues offgas into your environment too.
3. Marmoleum - I haven't researched this too much yet but heard it's meant to be a safe alternative
4. Cork - more pricey option
5. Wood - again caution with this as you need to make sure the wood hasn't been treated with chemicals etc and if glue is used that it is non toxic
6. Cement/Concrete - a great option as you can polish it and it comes up really nice.
And remember it's not just vinyl floors, vinyl ANYTHING is unsafe and leaches phthalates into your environment which affect your hormonal system etc.
Hope this helps and please feel free to comment if you know more safe options or whatever!
Thanks for reading! Enjoy your day!