New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the problem with formaldehyde-laced flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators is more dangerous than previously thought.
Free air test available
On Monday, the CDC revealed that formaldehyde levels in select versions of Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring could cause six to 30 cases of cancer per 100,000 people. That figure was upgraded from earlier findings. Just two weeks ago, the CDC reported that figure was believed to be two to nine cases per 100,000 people.
In addition to the increased cancer risk, other problems stemming from the flooring could include increased risks of respiratory issues like asthma and eye, nose and throat irritation.
Lumber Liquidators is offering free air tests to customers who got laminate flooring from roughly 2011 to 2015. The testing, which will be administered by an independent, accredited lab, should help determine the level of formaldehyde present in your home.
What should you do if you have the bad stuff in your home? In the words of the CDC, ‘Our recommendations will likely remain the same – we strongly stress taking steps to reduce exposures, which should alleviate respiratory and eye, nose and throat irritation. These steps should also reduce the cancer risk.’
Flooring expose on ’60 Minutes’ rocked the company in 2015
Back in March 2015, Lumber Liquidators was taken to task on 60 Minutes for buying laminate flooring from several Chinese factories that contained close to 20 times the amount of formaldehyde allowable by law. A known carcinogen, formaldehyde is present in glues used in the manufacturing of flooring.
The 60 Minutes piece featured hidden video of three Chinese factory managers fessing up to the unacceptable levels of formaldehyde in laminate flooring made for Lumber Liquidators. One manager also admitted to falsely labeling the flooring as CARB (California Air Resources Board) Phase 2 Compliant — meaning it follows strict standards for formaldehyde emissions in wood flooring, even though it didn’t!
The company took a hit on reputation in the wake of the scandal, and CEO Robert Lynch abruptly resigned after the expose aired.
Now Lumber Liquidators is reforming its practices and has become the first major retailer to take proactive measures to limit dangerous toxins in your flooring. In conjunction with the the ‘Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ coalition, the company has agreed to the following:
- No more reprocessed vinyl plastic in vinyl flooring
- Lead content of less than 100 parts per million (PPM) in flooring
- Suppliers must eliminate the use of ortho-phthalates in all vinyl flooring sold to the company
‘Lumber Liquidators is committed to setting the highest standards for the sourcing of flooring products,’ said Jill Witter, Chief Compliance and Legal Officer of Lumber Liquidators. ‘We are pleased to work with ‘Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ on this initiative, as part of our ongoing efforts to lead the industry forward with responsible sourcing practices.’
Lumber Liquidators has also agreed to be monitored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to make sure they’re honoring their commitment.
Read more: Is it time to sweep your chimney?
What should you do next?
This stuff could be installed in hundreds of thousands of homes around the country. As this story develops, I’ll let you know how to tell if your flooring poses a health hazard to you and what you should do about it.
In the meantime, there is a class action lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators over this issue. If you have any questions, call 1-800-538-1467 or get in touch by email at [email protected]. (Note: This lawsuit is for California residents only at this time.)
Lozeau Drury LLP — the environmental law firm behind the class action suit — says that if you’ve purchased laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators in the past four years, you may have been exposed to high levels of formaldehyde.
I’ll keep you up to date on this page with any further next steps you need to take as this story develops.