The home improvement company will stop purchasing and selling any carpets or rugs containing the toxics by the end of the year
The largest home improvement chain in the U.S. announced it will stop carrying some products containing dangerous PFAS chemicals by the end of the year.
In a Tuesday announcement, Home Depot said it would no longer purchase carpeting treated with PFAS chemicals. Studies have shown PFAS to pose a potential risk for testicular and kidney cancers, decreased birth weights, thyroid disease, decreased sperm quality, high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, asthma and ulcerative colitis
PFAS is the acronym for a broad range of per- and poly-fluorinated substances used in the making of non-stick surfaces for cookware, stain repellent for carpets, some firefighting foams, and fire retardants for a variety of home products.
"Taking PFAS chemicals out of carpet eliminates one important source of PFAS in the indoor environment," Jeff Gearhart, research director of the nonprofit Ecology Center, said in a statement.
3M, a major producer of PFAS chemicals, acknowledges a human health risk from now-banned PFOA chemicals (a type of PFAS), but denies that other PFAS substances still in use pose a human health risk. Facing multiple lawsuits from both state governments and private citizens, the company operates a website called "PFASfacts.com."
Last year, journalist Sharon Lerner from the Intercept revealed a trail of internal documents dating back to the 1970's acknowledging that 3M knew the dangers of PFAS.
With nearly 2,000 "big box" stores nationwide, Atlanta-based Home Depot and North Carolina-based Lowe's dominate the home improvement retail market. Home Depot racked up $97 billion in U.S. sales last year. Lowe's had $64 billion. Their nearest competitor, Ace Hardware, is a distribution brand for 4,400 smaller, locally-owned hardware stores with 2018 revenues totaling $17 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
Home Depot is the first national retailer to take action on PFAS. Today's announcement does not impact over 130 Home Depot stores in Mexico.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a national advocacy group, welcomed the Home Depot announcement.
"This move will help to end the nonstick nightmare that is contaminating people's homes and communities across the country. It will also help drive the growing market movement to healthier homes," said campaign director Mike Schade in a statement.