Home Depot Discontinues PFAS-Laden Carpets and Rugs
In a sign that the backlash against toxic stain and dirt repellents is growing, Home Depot has announced it will be phasing out carpets and rugs coated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The new ban, effective December 31, 2019, is part of a larger chemical strategy that began in 2017 and also includes limitations on triclosan, isocyanates, formaldehyde, phthalates, fly ash, and a variety of flame retardants.
PFAS comprise a large class of chemicals that cause oil, dirt, and moisture to bead on a surface instead of soaking in. “Long-chain” versions like PFOA (formerly the main ingredient in Teflon) and PFOS (formerly the main ingredient in Scotchgard) have mostly been phased out of industry, but “short-chain” versions continue to be used. Long-chain PFAS have eight or more carbon-fluorine bonds and have been linked to endocrine disruption and cancers. Short-chain PFAS have fewer carbon-fluorine bonds and are considered less toxic, but they still persist in the environment, and their health impacts are unknown.
This move by Home Depot is remarkable in that it follows an emerging pattern of banning entire classes of chemicals (see California Law Bans Future Flame Retardants). The practice is in line with the recommendations of the Green Policy Science Institute, which calls for the complete phase-out of six classes of chemicals, including highly fluorinated substances like PFAS.
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Published November 5, 2019