Story at a glance
- Lowe’s and Home Depot will stop selling carpets and rugs that contain PFAS chemicals.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly all Americans have detectable levels of PFAS chemicals in their blood.
- Exposure to PFAS chemicals can increase the risk of cancer, affect the immune system and interfere with the body’s hormones.
The retailer Lowe’s announced last week that it will stop selling carpets and rugs that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals by January 2020. In September, Home Depot made a similar commitment by agreeing to phase out substances dubbed “forever chemicals” in their carpets and rugs by the end of this year.
“The company’s action will help slam the door on a notable source of PFAS chemicals in our homes,” says Mike Schade, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign director.
The announcements follow recent tests that found PFAS chemicals in the drinking water of several U.S. communities from California to New Jersey, as well as the U.S. food supply. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to PFAS chemicals can increase the risk of cancer, affect the immune system and interfere with the body’s hormones — just a few of the potential negative health effects. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly all Americans have detectable levels of PFAS chemicals in their blood.
The substances that fall under PFAS are often called “forever chemicals” because they break down slowly. The chemicals can be found in a range of products from cleaning products, paints and fire-fighting foams to stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting. Last month, MLive.com reported that the Environmental Protection Agency officials said during a visit to Michigan that the agency plans to release PFAS limits for drinking water by the end of the year. But scientists and environmental advocates like the Environmental Working Group have been raising concerns about PFAS chemicals for more than a decade.
NRDC’s director of health campaigns Sujatha Bergen says, “Policymakers should follow the lead of retailers like Lowe’s by taking strong action to rid our homes of toxic PFAS chemicals.”