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Bamboo Flooring - How Green and Friendly Is It?

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Bamboo flooring's strong selling point is that it's green and good for the environment and just about the perfect building material. Is it?

Environmentally, it is generally better than other types of wood flooring--though still far from perfect. Socially and politically, it does leave a few things to be desired--depending on your politics, of course.

  1. FormaldehydeFormaldehyde is used in the manufacture of bamboo flooring.  The Environmental Protection Agency mentions that formaldehyde, in high concentrations, can cause asthma attacks in asthma sufferers.  They also note that it may cause "eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions.  [And] may cause cancer"

  2. Fair TradeAt this time, there is no Fair Trade certification for workers on bamboo plantations.

  3. Fear of a China PlantMost bamboo is produced in China, a nation known for its wide-ranging abuses against human rights and freedom.

  4. Clear-CuttingBamboo itself is highly sustainable, because it is a grass and it grows back quickly.  However, natural forests are often cut down to make way for new bamboo plantations.

  5. OutsourcingFor opponents of outsourcing, there is virtually no bamboo cultivation industry in North America at this time.

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