Feds Investigating Lumber Liquidators Over Formaldehyde Allegations

lumberliquIn the wake of a primetime news report alleging that some flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators contained excessive amounts of formaldehyde, federal regulators at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have confirmed the agency is investigation the lumber company.

In a statement, CPSC Chair Elliot Kaye says the agency is “actively investigating laminate flooring products from Lumber Liquidators,” and that the company has thus far been cooperative.

Formaldehyde is commonly and safely used in the manufacture of laminated wood flooring, but it has to be used sparingly so that the chemical dissipates quickly. If an excess of formaldehyde is used, it can remain in the laminated wood and gradually be emitted over time. Prolonged, continued exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to numerous health problems ranging from nausea to increased cancer risk. Children are more susceptible than adults to the toxic effects of formaldehyde.

A recent report on CBS’ 60 Minutes claimed that the laminated wood Lumber Liquidated sourced from suppliers in China contained more formaldehyde than its domestically sourced laminates and similar products sold by competitor. One sample allegedly contained so much formaldehyde that the lab equipment could not measure it.

Kaye said that while this is an important investigation, a quick conclusion is not in the cards.

“Our work will take some time and often the science does not provide the clarity we all wish it would,” explained Kaye. “Our work will involve testing of samples as well as consideration of home-based exposure scenarios to consider risks.”

Lumber Liquidators continues to defend its products, saying that the testing process used in the CBS report is flawed.

“We have been in direct communication with CPSC staff over the past several weeks and expect them to review our products using sound science and test methods that evaluate finished flooring as used in consumers’ homes,” the company said in a statement. “It is our firm belief that finished product testing, rather than deconstruction, is the best approach to determine consumer safety.”

The company was recently sued by a family in California, alleging that the company misled consumers in that state with labels declaring that flooring complied with California’s strict formaldehyde emission standards. The plaintiffs in the case are seeking class action status to include other Californians who purchased Lumber Liquidators flooring.

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