Lumber Liquidators Flooring Linked To Slight Cancer Risk, Irritation, Breathing Problems: CDC

Federal regulators warn that certain Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring may minimally increase in the risk of cancer due to formaldehyde released by the products, which may also cause consumers to face a risk of irritation and breathing problems.

Following months of concerns about health risks from Lumber Liquidator flooring sold between 2012 and 2014, which has been found to emit the dangerous levels of formaldehyde, this week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released results of testing on the 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. However, the CDC found that there was a low risk of developing cancer from exposure to the flooring.

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“Breathing in very high levels of formaldehyde over many years has been linked to rare nose and throat cancers in workers,” the CDC indicates. “Formaldehyde exposure from the tested laminate flooring would be much lower and would last for less time than the exposures linked to cancer. We estimated the risk of cancer from exposure to this flooring and it’s low.”

The CDC found that after about two years, the formaldehyde levels in homes with the flooring return to normal.

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 to sales of the flooring, and the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Lynch, suddenly resigned last week. The company also faces an investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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 symptoms, 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.

On June 12, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) indicated that nearly 125 complaints currently pending in federal district courts nationwide will be centralized before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in the Eastern District of Virginia.

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