32174852_mCarpet is arguably the worst flooring option for one’s health. First, carpet is often coated with a stain-resistant treatment such as Scotchgard or Stainmaster, which are created with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). PFCs have been detected in over 90 percent of Americans who have participated in studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control.[1] Laboratory studies with animals suggest that exposure to PFCs increases the risk of cancer and liver damage.[2] Second, the foam padding underneath carpeting typically contains chemical fire retardants. Third, relative to hard floor options, carpet harbors a high concentration of dust and dust mites.

The main hard floor material to avoid is vinyl, common for bathroom and kitchen floors. Vinyl, additives used to soften vinyl (called phthalates), and chemicals released during the life cycle of vinyl (such as Dioxins) enter our bodies through inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, and Dioxin exposure has been associated with developmental abnormalities, immune system damage, hormonal imbalance, and cancer.[3]

Safe and eco-friendly hard floor materials can be derived from renewable sources, such as wood from responsibly managed forests, bamboo, cork (from the bark of cork oak trees), recycled glass or ceramic tile, and finished concrete.

Flooring Product Tips


  1. If you need to buy carpeting, ensure that it is not coated with any stain-resistant chemical treatments.
  2. Choose 100% wool padding instead of synthetic foam padding.
  3. Green Label Plus indicates that the carpet has low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.
  4. Ensure that the carpet installers staple or tack down the carpet to avoid chemical glues.
  5. Recycle your existing carpeting at a participating facility.

Hardwood floors

  1. Ensure that hardwood floors are sourced from FSC-certified forests, where trees are regrown and biodiversity is preserved.
  2. Ensure that the final product is made with formaldehyde-free adhesives.

Tile floors

  1. Use recycled glass, ceramic, cement, or metal.
  2. Install tile with less-toxic thickset mortar.

Cork floors

  1. Select cork flooring that does not require adhesives during installation.

Bamboo floors

  1. Select bamboo flooring with zero formaldehyde emissions.
  2. Bamboo quality tends to be reflected in the price. (Avoid bargain-bamboo.)

Concrete floors

  1. Use non-toxic finishing processes, such as the RetroPlate Concrete Polishing system.


Best Carpeting Options

Natural Home Products

  • All Natural
  • No chemical-dyed fibers
  • 100% Wool padding
  • No chemical fire retardants

Earth Weave

  • All Natural
  • No chemical-dyed fibers
  • 100% Wool padding
  • No chemical fire retardants


Best Hard Floors Options: Wood, Cork, Bamboo, and Tile

EcoFriendly Flooring

  • Cork flooring does not require adhesives during installation
  • Recycled glass, ceramic, cement, or metal tiles
  • FSC-certified and reclaimed wood
  • Formaldehyde-free adhesives for hardwood


  • High-quality bamboo flooring with no formaldehyde adhesives


  • Some products contain 100% FSC-certified wood
  • Some products manufactured without formaldehyde adhesives



Other Hard Floor Options


  • Low formaldehyde emission bamboo