News & Media

Floorcovering Selections -
Poison Optional (Download the PDF)

The Problem

Heavy metals such as Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, Chromium and others are accepted by scientists as being toxic and harmful to health. As well as occurring naturally in the environment, two of the industrial uses of heavy metals include their use as stabilizers and pigments in the manufacture of some vinyl products. They are used because they are a lower cost option and perform well in various manufacturing processes. As awareness about the harmful effects of heavy metals has increased, their use has been reduced.

How do METALS get into flooring?

Heavy metals still end up in many luxury vinyl wood plank and tile (LVT) products purchased by consumers. Some manufacturers incorporate high levels of post consumer recycled vinyl (50% - 75% of the product) into the backing layer of their product and promote this as an environmental benefit to specifiers. What those specifiers are not told is that the recycled material is of unknown origin and that it often contains poisonous heavy metals. The real reason manufacturers use post consumer recycled material is because it costs about half as much as the higher quality virgin vinyl.

Traverse recycles production scrap internally (post industrial recycled content recycled within Traverse own manufacturing process – i.e. materials of known origin) but uses ZERO post consumer recycled material in production of our Boardwalk, Obelisk, Homewoods and Timeless Hand Scraped ranges. Traverse uses virgin/first use raw materials only, so the precise formulation of the product is known.

Traverse is in favor of envrironmentally sound recycling because the environmental benefits of recycling many products are abundantly clear. In the case of vinyl flooring products however, there are negative consequences resulting from the use of recycled material with no benefits other than a lower production cost for manufacturers and a perceived benefit in the marketplace that the word "recycled" means that a product is environmentally friendly. When we dig deeper, recycled can no longer be labeled "green" if the resulting product contains higher levels of toxins.

Relevant TEST

Traverse products have been tested in accordance with ASTM E1479-99 (2011). We suggest that all potential suppliers be asked to provide their test results for the specific name of the product being considered alongside Traverse for a project. Traverse has had the clear vinyl wear layer and the backing material tested separately. This is designed to show that the entire product is heavy metal free and show complete transparency on the part of Traverse Flooring. Competitors might be tempted to only test the wear layer of their product and not test the backing material where the heavy metals are to be found.


To put the results in perspective: If it's safe for children's toys, it's safe for flooring.

Current ASTM F 963 Migration
Limit for each Metal - Children's Toys
Elements Maximum Migration Limit MG/KG Product Traverse Boardwalks & Obelisk Wear Layer Traverse Boardwalk & Obelisk Backing Traverse Homewoods Wear Layer Traverse Homewoods Backing
Antimony 60 < 3 < 3 < 3 < 2
Arsenic 25 <18 36 < 19 < 16
Barium 1000 64 488 3 50
Cadmium 75 < 1 1 < 1 < 1
Chromium 60 < 3 5 <3 <2
Mercury 60 < 3 < 3 < 3 < 2
Selenium 500 < 3 < 3 3 < 2
Lead 90 5 16 3 < 2
Note 1: mm / kg = parts per million (ppm)
Note 2: All Traverse results listed in mm / kg / parts per million (ppm)
Note 3: Testing carried out in accordance with ASTM E1479-99 (2011). Test results in mm / kg / ppm as with ASTM F 963
Reference: Consumer Product Safety Commission Report (03.14.2012)
*see for full testing information

Why is it IMPORTANT?

Luxury vinyl woodplank and tile is a product category with fantastic design possibilities and far superior overall performance for commercial uses than the natural materials the product replicates. At Traverse we have worked hard to separate ourselves from other flooring ranges in terms of visual appeal.

Specifiers are increasingly interested in knowing what is in the make up of different interior finishes and Traverse knows that more environmentally conscious clients do not want toxic materials within their facility.

As interest continues to grow in understanding what is actually in products and to understand how those ingredients may impact peoples health and well being, the goal at Traverse is to show how our product is better and prove it with independent testing. As we continue to build trust in the Traverse brand we are not saying "Please believe what we tell you." We are saying "our door is open, come in and look around because we have nothing to hide."