A 60 Minutes investigation tested several Lumber Liquidator Chinese-made laminate flooring products and found that nearly all of the samples contained high levels of formaldehyde, a chemical that may cause a host of health problems including respiratory issues and cancer.
A federal investigation by the Center for Disease Control has since confirmed 60 Minutes’s conclusions and estimated that Lumber Liquidator flooring could cause cancer in as many as 6-30 people per 100,000.
While formaldehyde is commonly used in the flooring industry as a binding agent, there are strict limits on how much of the chemical can be used. It has been reported that Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring exceeds these limits and that the Chinese factories supplying the flooring mislabeled the products as meeting stringent health standards. Lumber Liquidators has suspended sales of its Chinese-made laminates following accusations that there are carcinogens in the material used for the floor. However, many people already have this flooring installed in their homes and should be aware of the risks associated with it.
What Did the 60 Minutes Report Find?
60 Minutes reported that CBS investigators tested 31 samples of Chinese-made Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring purchased in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Illinois and New York. Of the tested samples, only one was compliant with stringent formaldehyde emission standards enforced by the California Air Resources Board. According to the report, some of the tested laminate flooring samples had levels of formaldehyde 13 times greater than the California limit.
Furthermore, undercover investigators visited three Chinese factories that manufacture flooring for Lumber Liquidators. At these factories, employees reportedly “openly admitted” that they use materials with higher levels of formaldehyde and falsely labeling Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring as “CARB Phase 2 Compliant” to lead consumers into believing the products meet California’s health safety standards.
Lawsuit: Lumber Liquidators’ Flooring Exceeds California Formaldehyde Emission Standards
In the 60 Minutes investigation, host Anderson Cooper said that the network’s investigation was inspired by testing performed by the non-profit group Global Community Monitor.
In 2014, the organization tested 150 boxes of Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring that was purchased throughout California. All of the samples that were made in China exceeded the state’s formaldehyde emissions limits. In fact, the organization’s study found that the average exposures at the time of testing were 4,000 µg/day – more than 100 times the threshold set under California’s Proposition 65, which requires businesses to inform customers when their products contain one or more cancer-causing chemicals.
In December 2014, the Global Community Monitor filed a lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators to get the company to stop selling the potentially hazardous laminate flooring. According to the lawsuit, Lumber Liquidators failed to warn consumers about the cancer-causing chemical in its flooring in violation of California’s Proposition 65. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that Lumber Liquidators engaged in a false and misleading campaign about the formaldehyde in its products by claiming that it not only met California’s strict emission standards, but also applied these same standards to flooring sold throughout the country.
The lawsuit seeks to have Lumber Liquidators properly warn California citizens about the cancer-causing chemical or reformulate the flooring so that no cancer warning is needed, and is currently ongoing.
What Lumber Liquidators Flooring Is Affected?
According to the Global Community Monitor’s lawsuit, the affected flooring includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- 8 mm Bristol County Cherry Laminate Flooring
- 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana French Oak Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Antique Bamboo Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Oceanside Plank Bamboo Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut Laminate Flooring
- 15 mm Dream Home St. James Sky Lakes Pine Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Chimney Tops Smoked Oak Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Vintner’s Reserve Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Cape Doctor Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Cumberland Mountain Oak Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Americas Mission Olive Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Glacier Peak Poplar Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Golden Teak Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring (SKU 10029601)
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Summer Retreat Teak Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Sandy Hills Hickory Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Tanzanian Wenge Laminate Flooring
- 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana Royal Mahogany Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Blacksburg Barn Board Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Brazilian Koa Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Golden Acacia Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Poplar Forest Oak Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Fumed African Ironwood Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James African Mahogany Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Chimney Rock Charcoal Laminate Flooring
- 12 mm Dream Home St. James Nantucket Beech Laminate Flooring
What Other Laminate Flooring Products Allegedly Contain Formaldehyde?
As a result of the 60 Minutes investigation into Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring products, other manufacturers were discovered to have sold Chinese-made laminate flooring that may contain excessive levels of formaldehyde.
These manufacturers that sell laminate flooring products that allegedly contain formaldehyde include Ark Floors, CFL Wood Flooring Limited, inhaus Surfaces Limited, and Eternity Floors. For more information on these manufacturers, read our laminate flooring lawsuit page.
What Type of Health Problems Are Caused By Formaldehyde?
At high levels, formaldehyde is considered a known human carcinogen because it can cause various types of cancer, including myeloid leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer. At low levels, formaldehyde exposure can cause a number of additional problems such as respiratory issues, asthma, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. According to the 60 Minutes report, children may be most susceptible to these issues, as they are often in close contact with the flooring.
The CDC strongly recommends taking steps to reduce exposures, which should alleviate respiratory, eye, nose and throat irritation. These steps should also reduce the cancer risk. Currently, the CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are conducting a quality review of and the revised results and will be posted when available.