Lumber Liquidators Won’t Resume Sale Of Laminate Wood Flooring From China

More than a year after Lumber Liquidators stopped the sale of laminate wood flooring from China that was found to allegedly contain excessive formaldehyde levels, the flooring retailer and federal safety regulators have come to an agreement that the company won’t restart sales of the products and will provide customers who already installed the flooring with testing kits. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on Friday that Lumber Liquidators agreed not to resume sales of its inventory of the Chinese-made laminate flooring.

The agreement comes as the CPSC and National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) completed its evaluation of the safety of the flooring product.

CPSC and ATSDR determined that eye, nose, and throat irritation could occur with the higher formaldehyde emitting flooring samples in certain home environments.

Under the agreement, Lumber Liquidators won’t sell its current inventory of 22 million broad feet of flooring, and any future sale, disposal, or transfer of the inventory can only take place with CPSC’s approval.

In addition to not resuming the sale of the inventory, the CPSC announced that Lumber Liquidators would continue conducting a comprehensive testing program as part of a recall program that affects consumers who purchased Chinese-made laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators during a three-year period.

The CPSC estimates that more than 614,000 consumers across the country purchased the laminate flooring between 2011 to May 2015, and installed it in their homes.

Consumers with the laminate in their homes are cautioned not to pull it up, as that could expose residents to increased formaldehyde levels. Instead, the CPSC urges consumers to contact Lumber Liquidators to participate in the ongoing testing program and request a free badge kit and screening test.

So far, Lumber Liquidators has tested the air quality in more than 17,000 households and has retained third-party certified laboratories to conduct formaldehyde emissions tests for about 1,300 of those consumers’ floors.

As part of the agreement, the CPSC says that Lumber Liquidators will contact consumers who are found to have high levels of formaldehyde in their homes for more extensive testing.

If efforts to reduce the levels are unsuccessful, the retailer will pay for a certified industrial hygienist to examine the home and propose an additional remedy for the homeowner. The additional remedy would be free to the consumer and could involve replacement of the flooring or repairs to the home, the CPSC says.

In May 2015, Lumber Liquidators said it would suspend the sale of laminate floors sourced from Chinese manufacturers after a federal investigation was opened into claims that some of its laminate wood flooring contend excessive levels of formaldehyde.

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. The company was thrust into the spotlight by a 60 Minutes story on the issue. Lawsuits and federal investigations soon followed.

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