All I wanted was a chair mat!

So, the floor in my office in the house we are renting is not exactly smooth, so I foolishly thought I would buy a chairmat. You know, those clear plastic things to make your office chair roll nicely? So I was next to a Staples today so went and grabbed a nice looking one. I did my usual “plastics sniff test” as I do with all plastic (if it smells, out it goes!), and it seemed to pass, and nowhere on the display or labeling did it say what it was made of, so I foolishly gave it the benefit of the doubt that it was not PVC (vinyl).

Silly me. After only maybe an hour of use in my office, my throat was beginning to bug me. Oh no. Phthalates strike again! So I sniffed again (this time, maybe away from all the other smells in Staples, it did have a noticable smell… darn, not a good sign!) And I called the manufacturer, E. S. Robbins, and they are emailing me back (they never did), but this EPA website (and my sore throat!) seems to indicate that it probably does have phthalates. What a shame!

“Acute exposure to dimethyl phthalate, via inhalation in humans and animals, results in irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.” From: EPA: Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Web Site: Dimethyl Phthalate

Yup!

So what should I have bought? Well, it looks like there are actually mats made out of wood or bamboo that one can buy, but really what I need is something more flexible. 2 options that would probably work are: 1) carpet (but something natural with good IAQ without phthalates or PBDEs like wool) -or- 2) maybe a section of linoleum (not imitation vinyl flooring) which is also a winner.

I guess my main complaint is… should life be so complicated? No! phthalates/BPDEs/BPA/etc should be banned from products where there is a reasonable alternative! Which is almost everything, most likely!!!
Tisk tisk companies, phase out this nasty stuff, or be left behind by your competitors who are!

UPDATE: I give up. I am going to buy a section of all-wool carpeting (no PVC backer) and use that instead. That’s the ideal solution for my situation I do believe.

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