Ambient is one of the few flooring brands (if not the only?!) in the United States that voluntarily, randomly and extensively tests its products annually for safety and off-gassing to ensure our products are safe for our customers. Ambient has achieved a record 15 straight years of test results showing "effectively zero" off-gassing in our bamboo and eucalyptus flooring, an unparalleled achievement in our industry.
If that weren't enough, Ambient has also achieved FloorScore certification, and our floors comply with Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA). All of our adhesives are ultra-low VOC and zero VOC as well. Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and our employees, whose families and friends live, work and play on our floors too. Feel free to download our certificates and test results below!
Peace of mind for you and your family.
FloorScore is the most recognized indoor air quality (IAQ) certification standard for hard surface flooring materials, adhesives, and underlayments. It means that SCS Global Services has independently certified that a flooring product complies with the volatile organic compound emissions criteria described in the California Section 01350 program.
SCS Global Services is a third-party certification firm that tests and verifies environmental, sustainability and quality performance claims for products in a variety of industries.
To determine whether a product qualifies for the FloorScore® seal, SCS Global Services:
No matter what type of flooring you choose, products with the FloorScore® certification help you achieve cleaner, healthier air inside. If you’re breathing poor quality air, such as air that has higher concentrations of VOCs, you may be at higher risk for developing health problems such as dizziness, headaches and more serious conditions in the long term.
That’s why many architects, designers and homeowners choose FloorScore® certified materials such as flooring to help ensure a safer, healthier indoor environment.
At Ambient we offer a wide range of FloorScore® Certified flooring, including luxury vinyl planks and engineered bamboo hardwoods. We’re dedicated to ensuring our products meet (and often exceed) even the strictest indoor air standards in the world, which is why many of our customers choose and trust Ambient for their flooring needs.
Air Quality Standards Test Results Show Ambient Bamboo Flooring with “effectively zero” formaldehyde emissions
Formaldehyde is a naturally-occurring organic compound that exists in everything, including our breath and our cellular structure. It is classified as a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning it is a chemical that becomes a gas at room temperature. The primary use of formaldehyde is in the production of resins, and as a chemical intermediate.
Microscopic amounts of formaldehyde exist just about everywhere, so it’s hard to say anything is truly “formaldehyde-free”. However, Ambient™ bamboo floors come very close with ‘effectively zero’ (less than .02 parts per million) formaldehyde emissions and they fully meet the No Added Urea Formaldehyde (NAUF) standards.
If a person is exposed to higher concentrations of formaldehyde off-gassing, they can experience health problems like irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, skin irritation, depression and mood changes, insomnia, attention deficits, nausea, impairment of dexterity, memory, and equilibrium, headaches, and diseases like cancer.
When shopping for new flooring, researching the floor’s formaldehyde emissions and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) is vitally important. Choosing high-quality flooring from a reputable manufacturer like Ambient™ is a great place to start. To read more about the safety of our bamboo flooring, check out our blog post here.
DID YOU KNOW? Bamboo and hardwood are considered some of the safest options when it comes to installing flooring in your home.
Linoleum is a very good option for flooring to avoid toxic substances. Excluding the topcoat, it’s typically made from bio-based and non-hazardous ingredients, and is free of the problematic additives used in vinyl products. However, all floors on the market contain a topcoat which may contain substances of concern, and which manufacturers often do not disclose. Since this is not unique to linoleum, it does not impact the rating - see the Read More section above for more information.
Be aware that some linoleum flooring has optional layers for acoustic insulation or floating floor installation which can add additional hazards. Floating floors do, however, avoid the use of a potentially hazardous adhesive, so are still a preferred flooring option.
Pre-finished solid bamboo & wood floors are a very good flooring option. Made from a single piece of wood, and purchased with a stain and topcoat already applied, this type of flooring allows for the chemically intensive finishing processes to take place in a factory where there are pollution controls and workers are protected.
If possible, find flooring that can be installed without an adhesive.
Ceramic tiles made without toxic glazes can be relatively low-impact materials for a flooring (or wall) installation. Tiles made in the USA are typically free of lead compounds in their glazes. Look for tile product literature that identifies where they’ve been made, and what they are made of, including frits, glazes, and pigments. Unglazed tiles are most preferred.
Avoid tiles with non-specific post-consumer recycled content. These contents may be old cathode ray tubes (CRTs) from TV sets and computer monitors. They contain high concentrations of lead. Tiles with CRT content are sometimes called CRT tiles.
Many PVC-free resilient flooring options are available. This category covers PVC-free resilient flooring that isn’t linoleum, rubber, or cork flooring. These products can vary in the type of binder used including polyethylene, polypropylene, ethylene vinyl acetate, polyester, and thermoplastic polyurethane or some combination of these. Different binders pose different concerns in terms of potentially hazardous residual catalysts or monomers in the finished product and in terms of life cycle impacts. However, these binders are typically preferable to polyvinyl chloride.
Homogeneous PVC-free resilient floors are commonly made of a binder, filler, colorants, and additional additives as well as a protective finish. Heterogeneous floors have multiple layers and may include a printed layer which may contain dyes and paper or a polymer film. Others may have additional layers such as a fiberglass layer within the floor and/or a backing material. Additional layers may add additional hazards.
Some products contain pre-consumer recycled content, likely from the limestone filler, which is sometimes designated as recycled content. Some may contain biobased content, typically at a low percentage of the overall product, less than 2%.
Formaldehyde-based binders emit formaldehyde (a carcinogen and asthmagen) over time. Preferring floors made with an NAUF (no added urea formaldehyde) binder at a minimum is a good practice; an NAF (no added formaldehyde) binder is even better.
When possible, prefer a product that does not require an adhesive for installation.
As noted above, solid bamboo & wood floors are a good flooring option, made from a single piece of wood without additional binder. When the boards are installed unfinished and require stains and topcoats to be applied within the building, those volatile and sometimes flammable chemicals can be brought into the project in an uncontrolled way, exposing installers and others nearby. Prefer pre-finished solid bamboo & wood floors if possible, and look for flooring that can be installed without an adhesive.
Floors made from new rubber do not contain the highly toxic legacy contaminants often found in recycled rubber floors.
However, the composition of these floors can vary widely, and manufacturers often do not disclose their contents. Further, isocyanates used in the binder that holds the rubber granules together are asthmagens.
Laminate floors are a type of engineered floor made by layering a sheet of decorative paper infused with a binder over a plank of composite wood. The pattern on the paper is usually intended to resemble the grain of a wood floor. Like other engineered floors, care should be taken to find products with a NAUF (no added urea formaldehyde) or NAF (no added formaldehyde) binder, and that do not require adhesives for installation. Note that unlike other engineered floors, laminates cannot be sanded or refinished. Laminate flooring manufacturing has been plagued by supply chain quality control problems, as evidenced by issues like the Lumber Liquidators formaldehyde scandal in 2015.
Carpeting is variable and can be made in many combinations of backings, face fibers, and surface treatments. Carpet with this ranking on the hazard spectrum does not contain the chemicals and chemical classes that are highest priority to avoid: fly ash, vinyl and polyurethane backings, and PFAS.
Vinyl and polyurethane backings have significant life cycle concerns and often contain hazardous additives. Alternative backings like polyolefin are less hazardous and more readily recyclable at the end of the product’s life.
Fly ash is commonly used as a filler in carpet backing and it contains heavy metal contaminants. Alternative fillers include calcium carbonate and ground, recycled post-consumer container glass which are becoming more common and don’t contain toxic substances.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly used in stain-repellent treatments for carpet fibers, are a high priority to avoid. Alternative treatments are becoming available and appear to be better from a health standpoint, but greater transparency about their chemical identities and hazards is still needed.
Because more transparency is needed about PFAS alternatives, and additional hazardous chemicals may be found in carpets meeting the requirements of this category, it is ranked as yellow instead of green. Additional chemicals of concern that may be found in carpet include antimicrobials and flame retardants.
Engineered bamboo & wood floors are made by pressing layers of wood together with a binder into a solid board. When the boards are installed unfinished and require stains and topcoats to be applied within the building, those volatile and sometimes flammable chemicals can be brought into the project in an uncontrolled way, exposing installers and others nearby.
Engineered floors requiring on-site finishing are not recommended. However, if this material must be used, preferring floors made with an NAUF binder (good), or NAF binder (better) can decrease exposures to formaldehyde (a carcinogen and asthmagen) after the installation is complete. Note that some floors are typically sold unfinished, but can be pre-finished by the manufacturer if requested.
Because of the toxic processes required to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC), commonly known as vinyl, and the toxic pollution created when it is disposed of, vinyl floors of any kind are not a preferable material. However, in the instance where vinyl must be used, vinyl that has been reformulated to be free of hazardous phthalate plasticizers and doesn’t contain toxic or unnamed post-consumer recycled content should be preferred. Stain repellent treatments like Scotchgard are most often associated with carpet, but some vinyl floors may be treated with them as well. Avoid these whenever using vinyl flooring to avoid PFAS chemicals.
While US manufacturers have eliminated toxic lead compounds from ceramic tile glazes, overseas manufacturers continue to use them. Eighty percent of tiles sold in the US are imported, mainly from Europe and Asia, where leaded glazing remains common. Unless manufacturers specifically state otherwise, you should assume that glazed tiles not made in the USA contain lead (a PBT with cancer, developmental, and reproductive hazards). In addition, tiles with post-consumer recycled content from cathode ray tubes (CRTs), sometimes called CRT tiles, also contain lead from this recycled material.
When the location of manufacture can not be determined, the safest tile choices are unglazed tiles, or glazed tiles that are rated high for traffic abrasion (an abrasion resistance rating of IV or V according to ASTM C1027/ANSI A137.1, sometimes referred to as a PEI rating). The glazes of these tiles are less likely to wear down over time and introduce any lead that might be present into the living space.
Because of the toxic materials required to make vinyl, and the toxic pollution created when it is disposed of, vinyl floors of any kind are not a preferable material.
In addition, the inclusion of recycled vinyl in new products is a major pathway for the introduction of hazardous materials. Because vinyl products of all kinds are recycled together, hazardous lead, arsenic, PCBs, and phthalates can be found in post-consumer recycled vinyl.
Vinyl floors, whether sheet, tile, or plank, made in the conventional way, are a poor choice for a flooring material. Hazardous phthalate plasticizers, and stabilizers based on organotins which can be reproductive toxicants, all present hazards to occupants when they leach out of the floors and into the living space.
Rubber sheet flooring made with crumb rubber is not a healthy option. Crumb rubber (also referred to as post-consumer recycled content in this type of product) is sourced from recycled tire scrap and can include significant additional hazards. When tested, lead, hydrocarbon processing oils, and other hazardous and undisclosed materials have been found in crumb rubber.
Carpeting is variable and can be made in many combinations of backings, face fibers, and surface treatments. Materials of concern in carpets include:
Coal fly ash used as filler in carpet backings. Fly ash is a waste product from the combustion of coal and can be contaminated with mercury (a PBT developmental and reproductive toxicant) and other metals present in the coal itself.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used as stain-repellent treatments. Health hazard information is not available for all the chemicals within this large group, but PFAS as a class have been identified as chemicals of concern because many have been found to be highly toxic, persist in the environment, and build up in body tissues.
Vinyl and Polyurethane backings. Because of significant life cycle concerns, vinyl and polyurethane are not preferred materials. Polyurethane is based on isocyanate chemistry. Isocyanates are a leading cause of workplace asthma, so present a concern during manufacturing, and residuals may be present in the final product. Vinyl and polyurethane backings also commonly contain hazardous organotin catalysts, and vinyl backings may be plasticized with hazardous phthalates.
Carpets containing all these substances of concern are rated as red on the hazard spectrum - those that avoid them all are rated yellow.
The inclusion of recycled vinyl in new products is a major pathway for the introduction of hazardous materials. Because vinyl products of all kinds are recycled together, hazardous lead, arsenic, toxic PCBs, and elevated levels of plasticizers can be found in post-consumer recycled vinyl.
Below we've posted the last 5 years of test reports so you can see how safe Ambient's floors are yourself! Want to see a specific year's test results from before the years listed below, all the way back to our first off gassing tests back in 2006? No problem! Simply email a test report request to [email protected] and our support team will provide you with your requested report.
Because some vinyl floors contain additives that can cause health concerns, this flooring material is not the absolute safest on the market. Rapidly-renewable and eco-friendly flooring made from bamboo or eucalyptus, however, are among the safest options in this regard. If you do opt for vinyl flooring - or carpet with vinyl backing - make sure it is free of hazardous phthalate plasticizers. This additive can migrate from products and affect residents, particularly young children crawling on floors.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are commonly used in stain-repellent treatments for carpets. This class of chemicals is a high priority to avoid because they can be toxic, persist in the environment, and build up in body tissues. Many new carpets are becoming available without these stain repellents.
Recycled content can add significant hazards to products if sourcing is unknown and screening is not performed. In particular, you should avoid fly ash, which is used as a filler in carpet backings, crumb rubber used in recycled rubber flooring, cathode ray tubes (CRTs) in ceramic tile, and post-consumer recycled vinyl which often contains legacy contaminants. See the hazard spectrum above for more information and resources.
Avoid products with high hazard antimicrobial additives, like triclosan or products that are marketed as having a health benefit. Some antimicrobials may be necessary as preservatives, but these merely protect the product from degradation and have not been shown to provide any actual health benefit. Worse, the added antimicrobials can migrate out of the products and end up in the dust of interior spaces where people can become exposed.
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) emission certification is a standard Method for Testing and Evaluation of VOC Emissions. It will help you to weed out some of the worst actors in terms of VOC emissions from floors, but it is important to keep in mind that this testing only covers a small number of volatile chemicals (the standard imposes limits on only 35 specific VOCs). Many other volatile, semi-volatile, or nonvolatile hazardous chemicals may still be found in products certified to this standard.
Here are some important terms to know when evaluating the safety of flooring and other building products:
FSC® stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an independent, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests. FSC 100% certification means that the highest social and environmental criteria are followed when harvesting bamboo. FloorScore® is the most recognized indoor air quality (IAQ) certification standard for hard surface flooring materials, adhesives, and underlayments. Learn more
Ambient flooring products are FloorScore® certified
CARB stands for California Air Resource Board. CARB Phase 1 and Phase 2 are part of California’s Composite Wood Products Regulation (CWP Regulation). Phase 1 took effect in 2009 to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, hardwood, plywood, particleboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF). Phase 2 took effect in 2010 and lowered the formaldehyde emissions standard to .055 ppm. CARB is the strictest air quality measure because it CAPS emissions levels while other air quality standards are averages.
Ambient floors fall within the CARB Phase 2 standard for indoor air quality
NAUF stands for No Added Urea Formaldehyde. Urea-formaldehyde resin is a thermosetting synthetic resin made by compressing urea with formaldehyde, and it is commonly used with manufacturing wood flooring. Formaldehyde alone is considered a Volatile Organic Chemical (VOC). VOCs occur naturally in wood and bamboo, and when wood or bamboo is used to make furniture or other products, the gasses eventually leak out and into the air that we breathe. Europe, Japan, Canada, and some states in the U.S. have regulated the use of urea formaldehyde in composite wood products. In NAUF compliant materials, naturally occurring levels of formaldehyde occur, but no added urea formaldehyde is used.
Ambient floors are all NAUF compliant.
USGBC stands for United States Green Building Council. It is a standard for LEED IEQ Credit 4: Low-Emitting Materials. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design and was created by the USGBC in 1993. It's vision is that buildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation. It's mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life. It has since become the world leader for designing green buildings.
Ambient floors meet all the USGBC requirements.
OSHA stand for Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards regarding indoor air quality of less than 0.30 ppm of formaldehyde. With help of this test, you can check if floors are safe for your family and your home!
Ambient floors far exceed the OSHA standards.
E1 & E0 are European Regulations for Formaldehyde. These are standards of safety recognized in Europe and signals the maximum levels of formaldehyde that each piece of flooring can contain. E0 and E1 grants the limit of formaldehyde emission to be equal to or less than 0.07ppm and 0.10ppm respectively.
Ambient floors meets E1 and E0 with formaldehyde emissions of effectively zero.
ISO 14001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). It provides a framework that an organization can follow, rather than establishing environmental performance requirements.
Ambient factory meets ISO 14001 requirements. we identify and control the environmental impact of our activities, products and services; we are committed to continually improving our environmental performance; and we have implemented a systematic approach to setting and achieving environmental objectives and targets.
ISO 9001 is defined as the international standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system (QMS). Organizations use the standard to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.
Ambient factory meets ISO 9001 requirements, representing global quality standards for consistently producing products that satisfy customers expectations.
Health Hazards related to dangerous substances found in some Flooring Products
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly used in stain-repellent treatments for carpet fibers, are a high priority to avoid. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans.
Phthalates (thay-lates) are chemicals used to make vinyl soft and pliable for uses such as roofing membrane, wall covering and flooring. Phthalate plasticizers are not chemically bound to vinyl, they can leach, migrate or evaporate into indoor air and concentrate in household dust.
Fly ash used as filler in carpet backings. Fly ash is a waste product from the combustion of coal and can be contaminated with mercury and other metals present in the coal itself.
Rubber sheet flooring made with crumb rubber is not a healthy option. Crumb rubber (also referred to as post-consumer recycled content in this type of product) is sourced from recycled tire scrap and can include significant additional hazards.
Avoid tiles with non-specific post-consumer recycled content. These contents may be old cathode ray tubes (CRTs) from TV sets and computer monitors. They contain high concentrations of lead.
Avoid products with high hazard antimicrobial additives, like triclosan or products that are marketed as having a health benefit.
These ultra-small particles are not well understood, and are able to pass through the walls of cells in the body. Products described as “antimicrobial” and claiming to have a health benefit are best avoided whenever possible.
In addition to offering environmentally-friendly products, we implement safe and healthy practices when it comes to shipping those products to each of our customers. Here’s how:
We strongly encourage you to reuse or recycle our shipping products to the greatest extent possible.
We use FDA-approved packing peanuts made of organic cornstarch. They decompose in water leaving no toxic waste.
Our pallets are wrapped in stretch wrap made of 3% post-industry recycled content.
Our shipping boxes are biodegradable and are made of 35% recycled material. If they are in good condition, we reuse them whenever possible.
All of our corrugated packing material is made of 100% recycled content and is completely recyclable.
Our sample boxes and envelopes are manufactured using environmentally-friendly methods and are entirely recyclable.
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