When homeowners renovate or make changes to their property, they assume that only good will come from the upgrades. However, possibly hundreds of thousands of individuals who purchased flooring for their homes are just now learning that the materials they installed could actually make their families extremely ill.
A recent 60 Minutes report revealed that U.S. company Lumber Liquidators has been selling Chinese-made laminate flooring that allegedly contains abnormally high levels of formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer. According to the report, long-term exposure to formaldehyde may increase the risk for chronic respiratory irritation, asthma, and may change a person's lung function. Now, some consumers are beginning to file lawsuits against the company, seeking damages to cover the costs of replacing their flooring.
Toxic Levels of Formaldehyde Found in Chinese-Made Flooring
In a statement, Lumber Liquidators said that they "comply with applicable regulations set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is currently the only regulator of composite core emissions. Although CARB regulations only apply in California, we adhere to these standards everywhere we do business." They also assert that they have documentation to support each step of their production process to prove that all of their products are compliant across the board.
The 60 Minutes investigation, however, paints a much different picture. The segment shows the process of getting the Chinese-made laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators tested. More than 150 boxes of the flooring were purchased from stores all around California and then tested by 3 certified labs to determine formaldehyde levels. The results spoke for themselves:
- Acceptable levels of formaldehyde were found in laminate flooring from Home Depot, Lowes, and all American-made Lumber Liquidator laminates.
- Unacceptable levels of formaldehyde were found in every single sample of Chinese-made flooring from Lumber Liquidators. The average level was 6 to 7 times higher than the California state standard; however, some samples were close to 20 times above the level that is allowed to be sold.
After the initial testing, 60 Minutes independently had 31 more samples from around the country tested. Although California has its own strict standards for formaldehyde emissions, Congress adopted the state's limits and the law will take effect across the country this year. Out of the 31 boxes, only 1 had compliant levels and some were 13 times higher than the allowable limit.
Is Lumber Liquidators Breaking the Law?
Formaldehyde is used in the glues that are part of the laminate flooring, but the level of formaldehyde found in the Chinese-made samples means they cannot be sold legally in California. Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde over time can cause myeloid leukemia, nasopharyngeal cancer, respiratory issues, and eye, nose, and throat irritation.
As a law firm that handles consumer fraud cases, we will continue to follow this situation to see how it unfolds in our court system. If you believe you’ve been a victim of consumer fraud, call us today for a free legal consultation.