Advocates call on other major retailers to follow suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Lowe’s, North America’s second-largest home improvement retailer, announced that it will phase out the sale of all indoor residential carpets and rugs containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The company stated: “All indoor residential carpet and rugs purchased by Lowe’s will be free of PFAS chemicals by January 2020.” The company also disclosed new restrictions on phthalates and other toxic chemicals in wall-to-wall carpet, paint, and fiberglass insulation. Lowe’s has more than 2,200 home improvement stores in the U.S. and Canada.
In response, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ Mind the Store Campaign Director Mike Schade issued the following statement:
“We applaud Lowe’s for making this important commitment to drive toxic PFAS out of residential carpets and rugs. The company’s action will help slam the door on a notable source of PFAS chemicals in our homes. We are also pleased to see Lowe’s step up and restrict other toxic chemicals in carpet, insulation, and paints. We hope the company will address PFAS and other chemicals of concern in other key product categories and look forward to continued progress in the year ahead. We urge other major retailers to join Lowe’s in phasing out the entire PFAS class in carpets and rugs. We also call on state legislatures and Congress to act quickly to ban these chemicals in products that contaminate our homes, drinking water and communities.”
The Ecology Center Research Director Jeff Gearhart said:
“The action announced today will have a significant impact on reducing PFAS chemicals in homes. We’ve conducted extensive testing of carpet samples and most carpet contained PFAS as a stain treatment. PFAS chemicals in carpet and other consumer products directly contribute to the build-up of PFAS in the home environment. PFAS chemicals in dust and air is an important route of exposure for people. We applaud Lowes’ leadership in taking this action. We are calling on all major flooring retailers, including the third-largest home improvement retailer, Menards, to commit to selling only PFAS-free carpet and rugs.”
An Ecology Center report released in December 2018 found PFAS in half of all carpet samples tested (6 out of 12). PFAS are extremely persistent in the environment, and some of them build up in people and animals. They migrate out of consumer products into household dust and air, are released by industries, and contaminate drinking water and food. Once they are in our bodies, they stick around—with half-lives in people of up to eight years. Exposure to these compounds has been linked to a number of health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, harm to the immune system, and liver, kidney, reproductive, and developmental toxicity.
Lowe’s is the latest retailer to announce a policy commitment to reduce toxic PFAS chemicals in consumer products. In September, The Home Depot announced it was phasing out the sale of all carpets and rugs containing PFAS and Ahold Delhaize launched a new safer chemicals policy restricting PFAS and other chemicals in food packaging.
This is the first expansion of the Lowe’s chemicals policy, which was launched in November 2018. Last year, Lowe’s was the first major U.S. retailer to phase out the sale of methylene chloride and NMP in paint removal products, which helped spark a major ripple effect in the retail sector. In 2015, the company banned ortho-phthalates in vinyl flooring.
Lowe’s’ new policy commitment comes just three weeks before the release of the 2019 “Who’s Minding the Store?” retailer report card, which benchmarks retailers on their safer chemicals policies and implementation programs. Lowe’s earned a D in the 2018 report card, which was released before Lowe’s published its safer chemicals policy last year.
Safer Chemicals Healthy Families leads a nationwide coalition of organizations and businesses working to safeguard American families from toxic chemicals. The group’s Mind the Store campaign challenges big retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals and substitute safer alternatives.