Does Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Flooring Make People Sick?

When people are looking for a quick flooring fix, they may be tempted to go with vinyl flooring or PVC flooring for their homes. This is especially true if the area they’re looking to repair is in a part of the home that is exposed to a lot of water, as vinyl flooring does hold up well to moisture. However, these plastic floors do come with downsides. While some are obvious, like lacking natural beauty of hardwood flooring, others might not be apparent to people that aren’t experts. One particularly troublesome downside to vinyl flooring is the hazards to health it might pose.

As flooring experts, we’ll take a short dive into what PVC flooring is and why it can make people sick. 

What is PVC Flooring

PVC flooring is just another term for the more commonly used term vinyl flooring. The acronym PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, the material that the flooring is made out of. In common use, the word polyvinyl was shortened to vinyl, the term most people are familiar with.

The material polyvinyl chloride is fused and pressed to make strips of plastic flooring that will often be designed to look like wood or some other appealing flooring material like stone or tile. However, PVC strips are normally very thin, often less than half an inch, and while they can be wear-resistant because of the material they’re made from, some complain that it’s almost more like a mat than proper flooring.

Dangers of PVC Flooring

While the durable material vinyl floors are made out of may appeal to some homeowners looking to install it in a room where more damage may be expected, like a kitchen or bathroom, this material does have some downsides, primarily the health concerns that come along with it.

In recent years, more studies have come out linking PVC flooring to health issues like asthma and even rare cancers. The reason for this is the chloride that the name polyvinyl chloride comes from. In order to produce chloride-based plastics, most of these floors are made out of reprocessed plastics to reduce the cost of production, however, these plastics contain toxic chemicals that are released when they get broken down, exposing the material to hazards like lead and phthalates.

Compounding the health risks posed by PVC is that the production of chloride-based plastics itself produces toxic chemicals that can damage the health of anyone exposed to them, specifically the class of chemicals known as dioxins, which are carcinogenic chemicals that can remain in the environment for a long period of time and accumulate in an individual’s body, potentially leading to health issues.

Is PVC Flooring Safe

The safety of vinyl flooring is going to depend on your particular circumstances at home. The chemical toxins in PVC flooring get released into the home as dust and can accumulate in the air, but in a small space that people aren’t often exposed to, this risk will be reduced. However, if you have young children at home you may want to consider the risks associated with vinyl flooring, as children have been shown to get up to 10 times the exposure as adults do because they often spend so much time playing on the floor.

Now that you know a little more about the hazards posed by PVC flooring you’re in a better position to figure out what kind of flooring is best for your home. Every home will have different needs, but as hardwood flooring experts, we are big fans of hardwood.


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