Certifications and Standards Relevant to Adhesives
Is your flooring still “green” if you install it with a less-than-green adhesive? Many flooring products, from linoleum to cork to bamboo to carpet tile, have long burnished their green credentials, while flooring adhesives remained an afterthought left to the contractor. When Healthy Building Network (HBN) began reviewing flooring adhesives for the Pharos Project,
formed a tag-team, seeking out adhesives that could meet our high standards for environmental and human health. While so far we’ve just scratched the surface, we have several recommendations for finding greener options and will be working with HBN to review the best of the products they find.
Project specifications today fre-quently require low volatile organic compound (VOC) levels for flooring adhesives, and low-VOC choices abound as the industry has shifted from solvent-based to water-based products. Many of these meet multiple standards for emissions (see table for a list of certifications used). However, current methods for evaluating VOCs are still an imperfect measure for wet-applied products like adhesives. (See “Get a Whiff of This: The Lowdown on Product Emissions Testing,”
Sept. 2006.) Low-VOC status and the limited information required on a material safety data sheet (MSDS), provide little assurance that products don’t contain other hazards. For example, according to Jim Vallette, senior researcher with HBN, epoxies used for resilient flooring commonly contain bisphenol-A (BPA) compounds, and many polyurethane adhesives used for wood and resilient flooring contain polyisocyanate compounds. Acrylic or latex adhesives used with carpets may contain other chemicals of concern.