Lumber Liquidators Stops Selling Laminate Wood Flooring From China Amid Formaldehyde Investigations

lumberliquFollowing news reports about, and federal investigations into, claims that some of its laminate wood flooring contains excessive levels of formaldehyde, Lumber Liquidators announced this morning that it has suspended the sale of laminate floors sourced from Chinese manufacturers.

The company maintains confidence in the China-made flooring it sells, but is pressing pause on sales while it continues to investigate the matter.

“Despite the initial positive air quality testing results we have received, we believe it is the right decision to suspend the sale of these products.” said Lumber Liquidators CEO Robert Lynch in a statement. “We will work diligently to meet the needs of our customers and to ensure their satisfaction.”

Formaldehyde is commonly used in the manufacture of laminate flooring, but usually in such small levels that it dissipates quickly. If employed in excess, the chemical can remain in the flooring even after it’s been installed.

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.

Lumber Liquidators’ alleged formaldehyde problem first came to light in the U.S. in a 2013 Seeking Alpa report by hedge fund analyst Xuhua Zhou. More recently, the company was thrust into the spotlight by a 60 Minutes story on the issue. Lawsuits and federal investigations soon followed.

Lumber Liquidators has maintained that believes its flooring suppliers are compliant with safety standards. In today’s statement, the company claims that air quality testing for some of its customers shows that “over 97% of customers’ homes were within the protective guidelines established by the World Health Organization for formaldehyde levels in indoor air.” This statistic is based on the results of approximately 3,400 testing kits received from LL customers with China-sourced flooring in recent months.

Formaldehyde concerns have also been raised about some flooring sold at home improvement mega chain Lowe’s. A recent report, also from Seeking Alpha’s Zhou, alleged that at least one brand of flooring sold at the store tested positive for high levels of formaldehyde.