Formaldehyde Warning For Lumber Liquidators Laminate Flooring Revised By CDC

Federal health regulators warn that formaldehyde in certain Lumber Liquidators flooring may cause more severe health problems than originally believed, including a potential risk of cancer. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a press release on March 22, indicating that the agency will revise a report on the possible health side effects of Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring found to release dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

Individuals exposed to the flooring may suffer irritation and breathing problems from formaldehyde, and exposure may also triple the lifetime cancer risk from its earlier estimates.

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In February, the CDC released results of testing on laminate flooring imported from China.

According to the report, the flooring releases amounts of formaldehyde into the air that can cause breathing problems and irritation, particularly if there are elevated levels of formaldehyde from other wood products in the home.

Originally, the CDC warned that only sensitive groups were at risk of irritation and breathing problems from formaldehyde in the laminate flooring. The initial report also placed the lifetime cancer estimates at about two to nine cases for every 100,000 people.

However, the CDC now says that its numbers were wrong due to an incorrect value for ceiling height used in the indoor air model. This led to a miscalculation of airborne formaldehyde concentration estimates.

The new estimates indicate that everyone exposed to the flooring could suffer breathing problems and irritation, not just those who are already sensitive. In addition, the new calculations caused the lifetime cancer estimates to skyrocket, to an estimated six to 30 extra cases of cancer for every 100,000 people.

The CDC indicates that the new results have been reviewed by outside experts from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Lumber Liquidators Laminate Flooring Health Risks

Questions about the safety of the flooring were raised after a segment aired last year on 60 Minutes, which found that certain Lumber Liquidator flooring imported from China and sold in California failed to meet the state’s formaldehyde emissions standards.

On May 7, Lumber Liquidators halted sales of the flooring, and the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Lynch, later resigned. The company also faces an investigation by the CPSC.

Formaldehyde is a chemical used to manufacture building materials, resins, household products and is used as an embalming agent. It is classified as a probable carcinogen by the EPA and was determined by the National Academy of Sciences to cause cancer in humans. However, the EPA has never passed regulations which set acceptable formaldehyde gas levels for flooring.

Common symptoms of exposure to formaldehyde may include respiratory problems, eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, chest pain, vomiting and rashes. The chemical has been linked to some forms of cancer and leukemia.

A number of Lumber Liquidator class action lawsuits and individual claims have been filed against the company by individuals and companies impacted by high levels of formaldehyde in its imported Chinese laminate flooring.

The revised report came out just as Lumber Liquidators Holdings, Inc. announced a $2.5 million settlement agreement with the California Air Resources Board over the contaminated laminate flooring claims.

On June 12, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all formaldehyde flooring complaints in federal district courts nationwide before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in the Eastern District of Virginia.


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