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Installing a New Floor? Here's How to Pick a Healthier Option

Everything you need to know to tackle that DIY floor project like a pro

You and your floors spend a great deal of time together. But what happens when you're ready for an upgrade? Goodbye old floors, helloooo shiny new ones! With seemingly endless flooring options, choosing the right material might seem a little overwhelming. One aspect of flooring that you may or may not have thought about is how it affects your health. Turns out that some materials are better for your health than others, and it really depends on the various components that go into flooring products. To help you choose the healthiest flooring for you, we've got a guide that will help you on your shopping journey.


Floors we love:

  1. Linoleum: This flooring material should be at the top of your list. Linoleum is typically made from bio-based, non-hazardous ingredients like linseed oil and cork dust (1). It's also budget friendly.
  2. Solid wood floors, pre-finished: Not only are solid wood floors beautiful, they are also one of the healthiest flooring choices out there (1). You'll want to make sure that these floors are marked as "pre-finished", meaning that the stain and topcoat were applied during the manufacturing process (and with proper safety gear) so you won't have to (1).
  3. Ceramic tiles, made in the USA: Ceramic tiles come in an endless array of patterns and are a safe flooring option as well. However, make sure that the ceramic tiles you're purchasing were made in the USA (1). Ceramic tiles made in the USA are tightly regulated and do not contain heavy metals like lead and mercury among other hazardous chemicals (1).

Floors we like:

  1. Engineered wood floors, pre-finished: Engineered wood floors are not as safe a choice as solid wood floors, as they require glues to help hold the sheets of wood together. Formaldehyde, which can cause cancer, is a frequent chemical used in the glues to hold engineered wood floors together (4). Make sure to look for pre-finished engineered wood, as that will ensure you do not have to expose yourself to the variety of harmful chemicals necessary to finish the wood floors.
  2. Laminate: Laminate flooring is made by gluing a sheet of decorative paper over wood. This makes laminate a versatile choice, because there are so many different types of decorative paper you can choose from (1). However, glue is again used to hold the layers together. If you're dead set on laminate floors, look for laminate floors that do not contain formaldehyde in the glue (1).

Steer clear of these materials:

  1. Traditional vinyl floors: Stay away from anything made of vinyl, especially vinyl floors! These are the number one unhealthiest flooring choice to choose because vinyl products contain lead, arsenic, toxic PCBs and all sorts of hasty chemicals (1). Linoleum is a great alternative that is comparable in price and look.
  2. Carpet containing polyurethane backing and PFAS: You've probably heard of PFAS (it's that stuff that makes your jacket waterproof) and know it can cause developmental and reproductive problems, but what about polyurethane (1)? Polyurethane, which is found in the backing of some carpets, also contain hazardous chemicals such as phthalates (1). Another yucky chemical to keep an eye out for in carpet backing is recycled foam, which can contain flame retardants (2). Look for backings that are made from hemp, cotton, or natural latex, instead of polyurethane (3).
  3. Rubber floors: Rubber used in floors comes from recycled tire scrap and can include some crazy chemicals (1). Lead, hydrocarbon processing oils, and other hazardous materials have been found in rubber flooring (1). Definitely stay away from installing rubber floors.

If you want to read more about flooring options, the Healthy Building Network has a variety of additional resources on its HomeFree site.

References

    1. https://homefree.healthybuilding.net/products/5-flooring-products-hazard-spectrum
    2. https://healthybuilding.net/blog/457-optimizing-recycling-of-flexible-polyurethane-foam
    3. https://www2.mst.dk/Udgiv/publications/2016/08/978-87-93435-98-8.pdf
    4. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=218&tid=39
    Roundups

    Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaners

    products you can buy to make your bathroom squeaky clean without dangerous fumes

    Nobody likes doing it, but it's got to be done! Cleaning the bathroom doesn't have to be gross or involve lots of chemicals with dangerous fumes that leave your eyes teary and your head hurting. You can use an all purpose cleaner on most surfaces in the bathroom, but sometimes you need a little extra oomph to get rid of hard water stains and mold or mildew. Every now and then we also find ourselves needing to clear the drains too! We checked out all the lists and figured out which bathroom cleaning products are the safest and effective.

    In addition to these products, we also love using a simple non-toxic all purpose cleaner and have lots of DIY cleaner recipes for getting your bathroom squeaky clean.

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    Healthy eating should be about more than just healthy ingredients! While there are many different specific diets, most definitions of healthy eating involve choosing fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits. Refined grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and other unhealthy ingredients are left off the plate. But if healthy ingredients become contaminated with harmful chemicals, are they really healthy? It is time for healthy eating to incorporate more than just ingredients. Healthy eating should also include how the food is packaged and what materials the food comes into contact with while it is being processed, cooked, and stored.
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    Roundups

    The Best Non-Toxic Dish Soaps

    Healthy, safe, and effective grease-cutting dish soap power

    Updated for 2021!

    Get your dishes clean without worrying about the chemicals in your dish soap. We rounded up the top 6 dish soaps without toxic chemicals or preservatives that are well-reviewed and easily available. You're welcome! We've had some questions about whether parents need a separate soap specifically for bottles and dishes. With these 6 picks, you can be rest assured that they will work well on your dinner plates but are also safe enough for baby bottles and toddler dishes. Also, for all the dishes you choose not to hand wash, take a peek at our dishwasher detergent roundup.

    a) Attitude Dishwashing Liquid

    b) Aunt Fannie's Microcosmic Probiotic Power Dish Soap

    c) Better Life Dish Soap

    d) ECOS Dishmate Dish Liquid

    e) Common Good dish soap

    f) Cleancult liquid dish soap

    g) Trader Joe's Dish Soap Lavender Tea Tree


    We rely on EWG's consumer databases, the Think Dirty App, and GoodGuide in addition to consumer reviews and widespread availability of products to generate these recommendations. Learn more on our methodology page.

    *Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

    Roundups

    Eco-Friendly and Reusable Gift Wrapping Ideas

    Spread holiday cheer without creating waste!

    Since this is a safe space we can admit that one of the best parts about the holidays is the presents, right? But the amount of wrapping paper we go through every year is just insane... and most of it isn't even recyclable! Unless "recyclable" is specifically mentioned on the label, you'll have to throw used wrapping paper into the trash. And sometimes, we could do without that mountain of used wrapping paper after presents have been opened, even if it is the recyclable kind.
    That's why we wanted to find the best wrapping options that could actually be recycled or reused year to year! Check out these great alternatives to tranditonal wrapping paper!


    a) 2 Pieces Christmas Canvas Tote Bags Buffalo Plaid Check Shopping Bags

    b) joywrap

    c) Hallmark Recyclable Kraft Wrapping Paper

    d) Eco-Friendly Reversible Wrapping Paper

    e) Hallmark Reusable Fabric Gift Wrap

    f) Hallmark Black and Red Drawstring Gift Bag Set


    g) Furoshiki Reusable Gift Wrapping Cloth


    h) Organic Cotton Reusable Gift Wrap (Set of 3)

    i) Brown Kraft Paper Jumbo Roll

    Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, and fun gifts for your home chef? We created a gift guide this year for those people on your list who love cooking and hosting. Whether it's elaborate dinner parties or weeknight meals, these gifts are sure to bring some joys in the new year. We looked for gifts that avoided waste (like a stovetop popcorn maker), or that avoided harmful chemicals (like a cast iron skillet), or that could bring a little fun into the kitchen (like these fabulous cloth napkins).

    This year, we have highlighted many products by many Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) owned/founded brands. Buying from these brands is a great way to support economic opportunities in BIPOC communities and celebrates diversity in the sustainability space. Additionally, since climate change is an urgent issue with so many health impacts, we are also highlighting brands that are Climate Neutral certified. That means that the brand has committed to measure, offset, and reduce the carbon they emit. We believe that consumers and companies must work together to embrace and make true commitments to diversity and sustainability. Look no further for the ultimate gift guide!

    $: Under $50

    Handheld milk frother

    This stainless steel milk frother is the perfect way to warm up your milk (or milk alternative) without having to sacrifice counter space! Whether you're drinking coffee or matcha, this it the perfect tool to take things up a notch.

    Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes (BIPOC brand)

    Want to eat less meat, but don't know how to make vegetable dishes stand out? Step up your cooking game with delicious recipes from this unique cookbook from Bryant Terry. Bryant is renowned for his activism and efforts to create a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system, so this cookbook is right up our alley.

    Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution (BIPOC brand)

    Looking to up your whole grain intake? Expand your baking skills with Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution. You'll be amazed how a simple cookie can change texture and flavor based on the flours you use. Learn about the world of ancient grains like buckwheat, sorghum, rye, barley, and heirloom wheat and bake some delicious treats.

    GreenLife Bakeware Healthy Ceramic Nonstick, Muffin Pan

    This ceramic baking pan by GreenLife is non-stick without harmful chemicals and comes in a bunch of cute colors. Weekend muffins are calling you!

    Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top Popcorn Popper

    Microwave popcorn is expensive and the bags are coated in Teflon like chemicals, but it's so convenient. Enter this amazing popcorn maker. You'll never look at microwaved popcorn the same way after you use this Great Northern stovetop popcorn popper! It's stainless steel body perfectly cooks kernels to tasty perfection.

    Heath Ceramics large coffee mug

    Elevate your morning coffee with this beautifully crafted mug from Heath Ceramics. It comes in many lead-free glazes and is as sturdy as it is beautiful.

    $ $: Between $50-100

    Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker

    Sunday brunch just got so much better with this waffle maker by Hamilton Beach. Most waffle makers use a Teflon-like coating in their waffle makers, but this waffle maker uses a ceramic non-stick. It's really easy to use and the ceramic grids pop out for easy cleaning.

    Diaspora Co. Single-Origin Spices (BIPOC brand)

    Spices can make or break a dish, which is why we love upgrading our spice drawer with this set of single origin spices from Diaspora. We love that they pay a living wage to partner farmers and their partner model allows them to provide quality control that results in fresher, more delicious spices. That also means that they can also better control potential contamination and test for lead contamination. They are also working on organic certification for their partner farms.

    Emile Henry Deep Food Storage Bowl

    Who says food storage has to be boring? Beauty meets function with this deep food storage bowl by Emile Henry. The cork top serves as a fruit bowl, while the lower level with vents and darkness acts as a mini pantry to store root vegetables and onions.

    Siafu Home Congolese Napkins

    The scalloped edge and fun pattern of these napkins make them a great hostess gift! These are screen printed by hand in Kenya and are a great way to add some color to your table.

    $ $ $: Over $100

    Graf Lantz Felt Placemats

    These sturdy place mats will protect your table from the messiest of eaters! The merino wool material is naturally water and odor resistant, and also offers amazing thermal protection.

    Olivewood Serving Board

    These hand-carved cheese boards are made from a single piece of olivewood, which means no glues or adhesives are added to the wood. They are the perfect backdrop to your next charcuterie board.

    East Fork Serving Bowl (Climate Neutral certified)

    This handmade pottery serving bowl from East Fork is perfect for all your serving need- whether it's for movie night popcorn or a salad at a dinner party for 10!

    Brightland Olive Oil Duo (BIPOC brand)

    There's a reason you've seen Brightland all over social, it's high quality olive oil and beautiful bottle make it a star! The Duo set is the perfect way to try two of their most popular flavors! The olives come from a family-run California farm that does not use pesticides and is committed to organic practices.

    Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet

    Le Creuset is known for it's quality and beautiful color choices and this enameled cast iron skillet is no exception! This pan will last you a lifetime and is naturally non-stick enough for scrambles and fried eggs. No Teflon chemicals needed.

    Fellow coffee Pour Over Coffee and Electric Kettle

    This Fellow electric kettle and pour over set are perfect companions for your coffee! These products don't contain any plastic and will make you feel like a certified barista.

    Life

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    Don't let these chemicals ruin your holiday cheer

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    Want an easy way to live healthier?
    Sign up for our newsletter! Curated environmental health news delivered to your inbox every three weeks.
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