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Many floorings contain toxic chemicals which appear on the EU’s list of chemicals of ‘very high concern’. Vinyl floor coverings are probably the worst culprits as they can contain compounds which have been linked to all kinds of health and environmental problems. This also has implications for how these floor coverings are disposed of. If in doubt, contact your local authority.

Cork tiles appear to be free of harmful chemicals and lino is made from natural raw materials. Wood flooring should always come from sustainably planted forests.


Carpets come in so many materials, but be wary that just because the main material used may be wool, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Often carpets are treated with chemicals of ‘very high concern’ such as brominated flame retardants.

Other treatments to avoid are synthetic dyes, synthetic latex and organotins – these can all be hazardous to human health.

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