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Published on October 11th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans


Wood Flooring Treatments

VOCs, those volatile, organic, quite likely carcinogenic compounds abound in the wood used in our homes and office spaces—and floors are a large part of that space.  Many of the woods that we walk on come chock full of harmful formaldehyde coatings and toxic adhesives that become part of the natural interior of our home.

Wood treatments are designed to prevent fungi and termites from taking over.  Unfortunately, this method of protecting the wood also doubles as a toxic flooring treatment because much of the pressure-treated wood on the market contains a carcinogenic Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) treatment.  The EPA has taken measures to reduce the use of CCA, but currently there are few health-sensitive or eco-friendly wood treatment options out there.

Your best bet is to look for substitutes like recycled lumber or seek out flooring materials treated with alternatives such as low-toxicity borate-based options or ACQ, an EPA-recognized water-based preservative.  For more information, browse the EPA’s information sheet, ACQ – An Alternative to CCA.

It seems that wood requires treatment from the time it’s prepared for purchase to the time we choose to recycle it!  When it comes to staining your wood floor or weekly cleaning, skip toxic, foul-smelling products and petroleum-based polishes.

  • Toxins are not only irritants—they indicate hazards to your health and they continue to emit fumes long after your flooring is in place.  Look for products that emit little to no odor—Method, BabyGanics, and Seventh Generation are a few of the companies that carry non-toxic, eco-friendly wood floor cleaners that leave fresh, natural scents of lavender, citrus, and almond lingering in the air.
  • Look for cleaners and stains that use vegetable-oil bases to nourish and condition the wood.
  • Search up solvent-free, water-based, zero-VOC wood stains.
  • Visit our Natural Wood Floor Polish tip for some of the best do-it-yourself options.

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