New Report Alleges Some Lowe’s Flooring Also Has Formaldehyde Problem

While Lumber Liquidators has been the target of lawsuits and federal investigations into allegations that the company’s China-sourced flooring contains exceedingly high levels of formaldehyde, hardware giant Lowe’s is now facing similar accusations from the hedge fund analyst who helped spark the Lumber Liquidators investigation.

Analyst Xuhua Zhou, who first brought the Lumber Liquidators issue to light in a June 2013 story on the Seeking Alpha website, now claims in a new Seeking Alpha report that some imported laminate flooring sold at Lowe’s also contains levels of formaldehyde that don’t meet certain safety standards.

Formaldehyde is frequently used in the manufacture of laminate flooring, but usually in quantities so low that it dissipates quickly. If too much is used, it can linger in the product and carry the toxic chemical into the customers’ homes. 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.

“New evidence has come to my attention that Lumber Liquidators may not have been the lone violator when it comes to laminate floor sourcing,” writes Zhou. “Lowe’s, a behemoth in home improvement, has been selling similar questionable products as recently as late March.”

Zhou obtained a sample of laminate FH/L 3603 Chocolate Cherry Hickory flooring from a Lowe’s in Texas and sent it to one of the independent labs used by 60 Minutes in its recent investigative report on Lumber Liquidators.

This particular flooring claims to be compliant with California’s strict standards for formaldehyde content, but according to the results posted by Zhou, the lab detected around ten times the allowed amount of formaldehyde.

“I would be very concerned about the results from the one test from your supplier,” reads a note from the lab, “that is an extraordinarily high number.”

In response the Zhou report, Lowe’s told Bloomberg that the company sells laminate flooring from “the most reputable, well-known and trusted U.S.-based flooring companies,” and provided letters from flooring vendors affirming that their products meet U.S. regulations.

Additionally, the retailer said that only about 10% of its laminate flooring comes from outside the U.S. and that it is aiming to remove foreign sources by July.

“While we are confident that our products are safe, we are responding to our customers’ concerns about Chinese laminate flooring,” a company rep explained to Bloomberg.

With regard to Lumber Liquidators, that company has maintained that the flooring it sells is safe and complies with safety standards. The retailer has raised questions about the testing methods used by those claiming to have found high levels of formaldehyde in the flooring products.