In a win for public health, the home improvement giant Lowe’s announced that it will stop selling carpets and rugs containing toxic PFAS chemicals in the United States and Canada by January 2020. Home Depot recently made a similar commitment, signaling that stores are starting to take this health crisis seriously.
“Lowe’s is making home improvement safer for families by eliminating carpets and rugs made with chemicals linked to cancer and other serious health threats,” says Sujatha Bergen, director of health campaigns at NRDC.
The family of per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances is ubiquitous, used in everything from stain- and water-resistant clothing, carpets, and furniture to nonstick cookware and grease-proof food packaging to firefighting foam. Dubbed “forever chemicals,” PFAS don’t break down easily in the environment and can accumulate in the bodies of people and their food. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), PFAS can now be found in the blood of virtually every American, which can lead to issues like immune system dysfunction, hormone disruption, infertility, cancer, and more.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed to set enforceable health-protective standards for PFAS. Just two of these chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have a non-enforceable health advisory, leaving thousands of other PFAS chemicals unregulated and without guidance. The EPA’s health advisory was also 10 times higher than the thresholds proposed by the CDC.
“Policymakers should follow the lead of retailers like Lowe’s by taking strong action to rid our homes of toxic PFAS chemicals,” Bergen says.