CBS Reports That Lumber Liquidators Is Selling Formaldehyde-Laden Laminate Flooring

Image courtesy of jayRaz

Lumber Liquidators is one of those stores that does exactly what it sounds like: they sell wood and other building supplies at a discount. A report that aired this weekend on the CBS program 60 Minutes shared some scary findings from independent lab tests performed on samples of flooring purchased from the chain. The company counters that these tests are inaccurate, and that the people behind these allegations aren’t out to protect consumers.

Lots of everyday objects give off formaldehyde, and it’s even the product of metabolic processes in our own bodies. Occasional exposure while dissecting a frog in school or getting your nails done isn’t a health concern, but prolonged exposure to a lot of formaldehyde can be dangerous. “I would say long-term exposure at that level would be risky because it would increase the risk for chronic respiratory irritation, change in a person’s lung function, increased risk of asthma,” one expert on environmental toxins interviewed by CBS news explained. While it wouldn’t necessarily affect everyone in a residence, children are more susceptible to problems than adults.

It’s the amount of formaldehyde that the flooring allegedly gives off that is alarming, the men campaigning against Lumber Liquidators told CBS. (Warning: auto-play video) In one set of tests, the lab simply assumed that their equipment was broken, since the formaldehyde levels were higher than their equipment could measure. Some samples emitted twenty times above the legal limit for formaldehyde in building materials in California.

It just so happens that the men leading this campaign against Lumber Liquidators are an environmental activist and a lawyer. They’re working on behalf of homeowners concerned about potentially toxic flooring, sure, but they also happen to have the financial backing of investors who believe the stock price for Lumber Liquidators is too high compared to the actual value of the company, and they’re shorting it. That means that people who are betting on the company to do worse are behind some of the current accusations against the company. “These attacks are driven by a small group of short-selling investors who are working together,” the company said in a statement.

However, there’s also the U.S. Department of Justice, which may be filing criminal charges against the company for selling tropical hardwoods that may have been harvested illegally.

Lumber Liquidators linked to health and safety violations [CBS News]