Healthy Schools

New Jersey SDA Requiring Certification for Flooring to Protect Against Mercury

Following the discovery this spring of mercury vapors emanating from the floors of several school buildings in New Jersey, the state will begin requiring mercury-free certification for all flooring installed in schools.

The information was released by New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), announcing that the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (NJSDA) would be implementing the requirement.

According to NJEA: “The New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) will be requiring a certification from manufacturers of rubberized and/or urethane floors installed on SDA projects ensuring the floor does not contain phenyl mercuric acetate (PMA) or other mercury catalysts. These floors, which continue to be identified in New Jersey schools, have been installed since the 1960s. This flooring, and items that have been in contact with it, emit harmful mercury vapor indefinitely.”

As of this writing, NJSDA has posted no information about this new requirement on its own site.

However, an addendum to a specific recent bid document did add the requirement for “written certifications from both manufacturer and installer that floor system and accessories, including without limitation resilient sheet, poured topcoat, color coat, and all catalysts and adhesives are 100% free of mercury and other heavy metals,” as well as the requirement to “coordinate with the Authority’s Construction Manager for on-site sampling and testing of materials prior to application.”

“Mercury vapor can damage the central nervous system, kidneys, lungs, skin and eyes and is especially harmful to young children and fetuses whose bodies are still developing. Studies show that children with autism have an even harder time excreting toxic metals, further increasing the health risk,” according to NJEA. “The additional certification from manufacturers is necessary as Safety Data Sheets and date of installation are not determining factors in identifying whether or not a floor contains mercury. The floors release odorless, colorless mercury vapor. The only reliable way to determine whether a floor contains mercury is to test using bulk sampling and an accredited laboratory.”

Further information can be found on NJEA’s site.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).