There is safety in surface coatings. In the case of commercial floor coatings, they can keep the surface from being too slippery while making it look great and they protect the flooring so it lasts for a long time.
But while used on the floor, it is important that the chemical makeup of the floor coating is safe. For instance, the coatings used in homes and home garages need to be safe enough for a child to walk on or play on. In other words, the coating can’t be one that is harmful for a child to be around all of the time.
With that said, surface coatings are used on more than just floors.
It was in the news recently that cobalt that is used in plastic building blocks and even baby bibs contain low levels of industrial chemicals. Baby wipes, booster seats, high chairs, and all kinds of toys that kids play with are being coated by substances that could make playing with them hazardous to their health.
Fifty-nine of the large companies that manufacture children’s toys, clothes, and other items filed reports because they had to comply with state law. These reports revealed the chemicals that compose their coatings. As for what started this, it all started when Washington State created the Children’s Safe Product Act, which changed the tone in many states, making it a must to know what is in the products that everyone is using.
In the end, it was found that there were 66 chemicals contained in the products manufactured by those companies. In many cases, it is not even known what exposure to those chemicals may do, especially to babies and toddlers who have a tendency to chew their toys or rub them on their skin. For many of the compounds, there has been very little research done on them.
But regardless, it doesn’t matter if it is a toy, a bib, or a floor coating, it is important to know what a coating is made of so that parents and other consumers can make informed decisions about what they are exposing themselves to and their children. Many times that question can be answered by asking. But one point that has been driven by manufacturers is that the presence of a chemical does not mean that it is harmful to human beings or that there was a safety standard violation. Officials with state agencies agree, making it more of a “right to know” issue so that consumers can make decisions.