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DINP in vinyl flooring gets safe determination

RFCI LogoLaGrange, Ga.—The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has issued a Safe Use Determination (SUD) under Prop 65 for diisononyl phthalate (DINP) in vinyl flooring products. The finding is based on OEHHA’s determination that vinyl flooring products containing 18.9% or less of DINP by weight do not expose occupants of residences and commercial buildings to DINP exceeding “safe harbor levels.” Therefore, a Prop 65 consumer warning for qualifying products is not required. DINP has been used as a plasticizer in many products, including vinyl floors, to make them flexible.

The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) asked OEHHA in November 2014 to evaluate exposure to DINP in vinyl flooring and issue an SUD after the chemical was added to the state’s Prop 65 list in December 2013. The request was the first SUD sought since late 2007. OEHHA issued the SUD on June 21, 2016.

“We are pleased that OEHHA has reviewed exposure levels of DINP in virgin and recycled vinyl flooring and found that qualifying products do not require a Prop 65 warning,” said Dean Thompson, RFCI president. “OEHHA’s decision confirms that DINP in vinyl flooring not exceeding the 18.9% threshold is safe and appropriate for homes and commercial buildings. DINP is a thoroughly studied compound that enhances the flexibility, resiliency, and long-lasting performance of many vinyl products.”

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RFCI advocates the safety and viability of vinyl

Tackles Prop 95, Green Chemistry Initiative

November 30/December 14; Volume 30/Number 12

By Steven Feldman
Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.12.32 PMDallas—The resilient floor covering industry is in the midst of unprecedented growth, driven primarily by the popularity of the luxury vinyl category. Behind the scenes, the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) has been doing its part to contribute to this growth while helping to sustain the long-term viability of the category.

While its manufacturer members continually introduce products that resonate with consumers and drive sales, it is through their collective resources that RFCI is able to work on advocacy issues that are bigger than what any one company could tackle by itself. Examples of this include California Proposition 65 and the California Green Chemistry Initiative (CGCI), two areas in which RFCI has devoted considerable resources in 2015.

Commanding much of RFCI’s focus over the last 10 months is a phthalate plasticizer called DINP. Phthalates are used in building and construction applications, including vinyl flooring to make a wide range of vinyl surfaces last longer and easier to maintain. Certain phthalates are used to soften vinyl because of their strong performance, durability and stability. The science simply does not support the call to remove phthalates from vinyl flooring, according to RFCI. Negative reports regarding phthalates do not look at actual exposure to phthalates, but instead claim that their mere presence in flooring is enough to cause a long list of negative health effects. Government scientific agencies and regulatory bodies worldwide have concluded that phthalates used in commercial products do not pose a risk to human health at typical exposure levels. There are no existing Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or other government regulatory restrictions on phthalate use in vinyl flooring.

There are currently nearly 900 chemicals on the Prop 65 list that require a product reformulation or a warning label. Should a product contain any one of these chemicals and no warning label, it is subject to a lawsuit even though the exposure to the chemical(s) in the product does not come close to exceeding the safety level often established by the state.

Earlier this year, RFCI filed a petition and an extensive exposure assessment illustrating that exposure to DINP in vinyl flooring is of a magnitude below the California agency’s stated “safe harbor level” and, as such, should not require reformulation or a warning label. This procedure is commonly known as a Safe Use Determination within California Proposition 65.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.12.52 PM“What makes Prop 65 problematic is that it is enforced by bounty hunters who can recover their legal fees,” said Bill Hall, an attorney with Venable LLC in Washington, D.C., and outside counsel to RFCI. “That has resulted in many frivolous lawsuits brought about by lawyers who are driven by profit and not by public health. Contrast this to other state regulatory initiatives that have established criteria for adherence.”

According to Hall, California is the only state in the country where this is enforced by trial lawyers as opposed to regulatory agencies that have a greater governmental interest in whether to pursue enforcement actions.

Prop 65 was adopted by referendum, so making significant amendments would require a referendum vote. “Gov. Brown is looking to reform Prop 65,” Hall said. “He has identified the Safe Use Determination process as one way to ensure there are meaningful labels, and that is why we are pursuing a Safe Use Determination that the presence of DINP in vinyl flooring does not require a warning or reformulation.”

Similarly, California’s Safe for Consumer Products Green Chemistry Initiative (CGCI) is a six-part initiative to reduce public and environmental exposure to toxins through regulation of chemicals. The program requires designated priority products to consider alternatives if the product contains any one of 2,000 chemicals. It starts with a designation of a priority product category that has to undergo an assessment program. “One of more than 80 product categories that are potentially subject to consideration is vinyl flooring, although we have ample evidence that it is safe, durable, cost effective, and the use of DINP in the product does not present a health concern justifying either a designation as a priority product or the need for a Prop 65 warning,” Hall explained.

Two parts of CGCI became statute in 2008; the other four parts were not passed but are still on the agenda of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control Green Ribbon Science Panel discussions. RFCI is making sure it lays the groundwork for helping them better understand vinyl flooring and why it shouldn’t be included in any future regulatory plans.

RFCI’s efforts go beyond the goal of protecting vinyl’s reputation as a sustainable and safe product. “One of the important objectives of our efforts with respect to CGCI and Prop 65 is to ensure that recycling in this industry, which is on the rise, can continue,” Hall said. “We want to ensure there is no discouragement from using recycled source materials that contain old phthalates. There is absolutely no health risk based on incredibly low exposure to present a need for concern about health.”

Dean Thompson, president of RFCI, noted that these aforementioned issues have not impeded resilient’s growth. “The industry is growing dramatically because our products are proven in terms of their long-term performance and durability; they are in greater demand than ever. Category growth is not being thwarted by any of these activists or regulatory issues.”

FloorScore flourishes

FloorScore has become the pre-eminent indoor air quality certification program for hard surfaces, Thompson said, as evidenced by the program’s 370% growth over just the last five years. Nearly 400 product constructions have been certified to FloorScore, encompassing a selection of thousands of resilient flooring styles, materials, adhesives and accessories.

FloorScore was launched by RFCI as a means to respond to the marketplace’s safety demands of resilient flooring products, specifically their VOC emission levels. FloorScore certification means a flooring product is independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) to comply with the VOC emissions criteria of California Section 01350.

“Most hard surface floors today are certified under FloorScore, which means they will contribute to good indoor air quality,” Thompson said. “That label ensures a product is in compliance with the most stringent indoor air quality requirements in the country. It really has created a green standard.”

While Thompson noted the RFCI has not seen a major financial windfall from administering the FloorScore program, its members, and especially consumers, are the true beneficiaries. “The real growth of FloorScore has come because our manufacturers can provide products that are indoor air quality certified under the FloorScore label, which is a strong marketing advantage.”

 In other news…

  • To help make LEED v4 friendlier to the producers of vinyl flooring and other vinyl products, RFCI continues to take part in a supply chain working group. Supply Chain Optimization is a group of 30 members working with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop criteria for the points available under the materials credit in LEED v4.
  • RFCI also continues to support Green Globes as an alternative to LEED. “We believe in market competitiveness,” Thompson said, “and to achieve the best in sustainability requires competitive green building rating systems and not dependence on one particular system.”
  • New officers were elected for the 2016-17 period. Russell Grizzle, CEO of Mannington, is the incoming chairman replacing Bart Rogers, vice president, sales and marketing, Roppe. Scott Sandlin, vice president of hard surface, Shaw Industries, is the incoming vice chairman; and Jeff Fenwick, president and COO of Tarkett North America, is the incoming secretary/treasurer.
  • RFCI remains on a growth trajectory. The association now comprises 34 members and estimates that its manufacturing members account for more than 95% of all resilient flooring manufactured and marketed throughout North America.
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BREEAM cites FloorScore for indoor air quality

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LaGrange, Ga.—The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), one of the world’s foremost environmental assessment programs for buildings, has cited FloorScore certified flooring products as eligible for credits under BREEAM’s indoor air quality requirements. FloorScore, a voluntary, independent certification program, tests vinyl (including LVT and VCT), linoleum, laminate, wood, ceramic and rubber flooring and certifies that they meet the emissions requirements of California Section 01350.

The FloorScore program is administered by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI), a nonprofit industry organization representing more than 95% of resilient flooring marketed in North America. Certification under the FloorScore program involves product testing by independent laboratories and third-party certification by SCS Global Services. A list of FloorScore-certified products is available at and in the certified green products guide at

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RFCI announces seven new members

RFCI LogoLaGrange Ga.—The Resilient Floor Covering Institute has expanded its membership, adding four manufacturers and three suppliers to its roster. Resilient flooring manufacturers Shaw Resilient, Novalis Innovative Flooring, Mohawk and EarthWerks have joined the industry association, as well as suppliers PLI Pak-Lite and SELIT, both providers of flooring underlayment, and HPS Schonox, makers of primers and moisture mitigation materials. RFCI membership represents more than 95% of all resilient flooring marketed throughout North America.

“RFCI’s expanding membership is continuing evidence of the growth of the resilient flooring category and luxury vinyl tile in particular,” said Dean Thompson, RFCI president. “RFCI members are known for their innovation, quality and sustainability. We welcome these new members who share our commitment to improve the industry and advance our sustainability initiatives.”

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RFCI proactively tackles tough environmental issues

October 27/November 3, 2014; Volume 28/Number 10

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 2.13.20 PMResilient flooring manufacturers are often credited for driving category growth to new heights through innovative products, from sheet vinyl to LVT. Behind the scenes, the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) is doing its part to further this pattern of innovation.

Through collective resources of its growing membership, RFCI takes on issues that are too big for any one company to address alone—those that are regulatory in nature or non-governmental such as the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

Dean Thompson, president of RFCI, said the group is currently focused on two matters: issues management and advocacy. “We are engaged with federal and state agencies and non-governmental authorities on regulatory issues at all levels,” he explained.

RFCI proactively develops programs that facilitate bringing products to market. “This includes our four sustainability building blocks: FloorScore, the NSF/ANSI 332 Sustainability Standard for Resilient Flooring, industry-average environmental product declarations (EPDs) and the new product transparency declarations (PTDs). PTDs are now moving through the process to become an ASTM standard, and we anticipate the standard will come to fruition in spring 2015.”

PTDs have become a recent focus for RFCI as the issue of transparency grows, specifically as designers ask for more information about the ingredients in products. “It’s clear that the transparency issue is not going away,” said Bill Freeman, RFCI’s regulatory and technical consultant. “We started looking at it in 2012 to provide information we think architects and designers want, starting with PTDs that disclose ingredients, including those considered hazardous. We had interest from many industries to use the same type of format. We thought the best thing was to take it through the ANSI process.”

According to Thompson, key developments in 2014 include the continued dramatic growth of LVT, demonstrated by the industry’s record capital investment in both new and expanded manufacturing facilities. Of particular note, Mohawk and Shaw, two of the largest manufacturers, have joined ranks with RFCI.

LVT growth has expanded RFCI’s role significantly, particularly with members from the supply chain like HPS Schönox, PLI Pak-Lite and SELIT joining the group. Thompson called it “a very positive development that has broadened RFCI’s base.”

Advancing advocacy efforts

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 2.13.55 PMBill Hall, counsel to RFCI, said the fundamental principles of advocacy in any government or non-government organization’s decision-making process involving vinyl flooring must be based on accurate information—sound, scientific principles, risk assessment and life cycle assessment. The group’s position has been that resilient flooring is not only a great choice for versatile, cost-effective flooring solutions—it is also a great choice for the environment as new innovations improve product recycling, indoor air quality, lower VOC emissions and contribute to a healthier planet.

He added there has been a focus by some to “tilt the playing field” against PVC products. “That is what we have dealt with most recently. We have to demonstrate that our products are safe and sustainable through precedent-setting sustainability programs the industry has put together.”

RFCI recently agreed to work with USGBC on improving LEED v4 with respect to product selection, along with other industry and non-industry groups. RFCI contends the materials section of LEED v4 is discriminatory toward vinyl products and uses programs which are not established by any consensus, including Red Lists, Cradle to Cradle and GreenScreen.

“They are people who arbitrarily decided what should and shouldn’t be used,” Hall said, contending an abscence of science. “Those organizations did not allow all impacted stakeholders to be involved in establishing those programs.”

Another issue for RFCI is the California Prop 65 warning for listing DINP (phthalate). A compliance date is scheduled for Dec. 20. “We are of strong belief that the presence of DINP is well below any safe harbor level and should not trigger a warning label for vinyl products,” Hall said.

To that end, RFCI is working with the American Chemistry Council, which has filed suit against the listing of DINP—a listing that, he said, relied on animal data that has no relevance to humans. “We are also dealing with the California green chemistry program, which is involved in selecting products on the priority list that will have to go through an evaluation process to determine if any ingredients have to be switched.” RFCI’s ultimate goal is to make sure California does not select vinyl flooring for that list.

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Flexco earns NSF certification, meets new GSA rules

Emeryville, Calif.– Flexco, a manufacturer of resilient flooring products such as rubber and vinyl tile and tread, wall base, and adhesives, joined the growing ranks of companies with products that have been certified by SCS Global Services (SCS) to meet the Sustainability Assessment Standard for Resilient Flooring (NSF/ANSI 332).  Based on this certification, the entire line of Flexco products already recognized under the Resilient Floor Covering Institute’s FloorScore program also qualify under the new U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) purchasing requirement (GSA Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service, P100). Continue reading Flexco earns NSF certification, meets new GSA rules

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LEED 2012: USGBC should withdraw its European-based material avoidance credit

Bill Hall

By Bill Hall, Venable LLP and outside Counsel to the Resilient Floor Covering Institute

As goes LEED, so goes green building certifications. While competing systems such as Green Globes are gaining ground, LEED remains the predominant U.S. green building certification system. In addition to widespread market adoption, LEED has been incorporated into the laws or regulations of 34 states and 442 local governments and is used by 14 federal agencies. Thus, the ongoing effort by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to overhaul LEED continues to have a significant impact on the building materials used in green buildings.  Continue reading LEED 2012: USGBC should withdraw its European-based material avoidance credit

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Resilient’s green message keeps growing

by Matthew Spieler

While the carpet industry gets the bulk of the headlines when it comes to environmental stories, it doesn’t mean the rest of the flooring industry is standing by and watching. The resilient category, for instance, has plenty to offer in the way of eco-friendly programs, from incorporating various types of post-consumer materials into products to using alternative energy sources to power factories, the industry is leading by example and architects and designers in general are taking notice. Continue reading Resilient’s green message keeps growing

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Raskin Industries' Elevations achieves FloorScore certification

New York—Raskin Industries, the supplier of the first truly adhesive-free, loose lay luxury vinyl tiles and planks, is pleased to announce its Elevations brand collections have been FloorScore certified for low VOCs. Now retailers, specifiers and end users alike have the assurance that working and living with Raskin Industries’ Elevations helps promote indoor air quality and preserves a healthy, responsible lifestyle.  Continue reading Raskin Industries' Elevations achieves FloorScore certification

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RFCI sets agenda for 2012

by Steven Feldman

Bill Hall

Pebble Beach, Calif.–The Resilient Floorcovering Association (RFCI) converged on one of the most beautiful spots in the countryhere last fall to update members—both resilient manufacturers and their raw materials suppliers–on the key issues impacting the industry as well as the plethora of initiatives in which the group is currently engaged.

First and foremost is combatting a number of misperceptions about resilient flooring and its environmental impact. As well, it is in a constant battle with some groups as to issues such as de-selection and product avoidance. Continue reading RFCI sets agenda for 2012