Lumber Liquidators Under Fire for Laminate Floors with Formaldehyde
By Nathan Williams, Staff Writer
Wood floors make a great addition to any home and have grown in popularity in recent years. Although real hardwoods are the best, they are simply unaffordable for many homeowners. Therefore, many opt for “laminate” floors that provide the look and feel of wood flooring at a much lower cost.
Lumber Liquidators is one of the largest retailers of hardwood and laminate flooring products with over 220 locations in 45 states and Canada.
Recently though, the company has come under fire for some of its laminate flooring products manufactured in China that contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde, which is a volatile organic compound used in a wide variety of products.
In the case of Lumber Liquidators, formaldehyde would be used in the underlying platform that is affixed to the laminate or wood veneer.
Anyone exposed to high levels of the compound can experience a wide variety of symptoms ranging from itching eyes, runny nose and sore throat to headaches, chest tightness and nausea. In extreme cases, exposure can lead to cancer and respiratory problems.
An investigative report from the CBS program “60 Minutes” found nearly all samples manufactured in China contained unacceptable levels of formaldehyde
Despite claims from manufacturers and Lumber Liquidators, many laminate products manufactured in China contain formaldehyde well above acceptable limits. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) set strict standards in 2007 that dramatically lowers the amount of formaldehyde that can be used in composite wood products.
The stricter “Phase 2” requirement took effect in January, 2014 in California. All flooring products sold in the Golden State after that time must be “CARB 2” compliant.
Although the flooring in question was labeled as “CARB 2” compliant, the 60 Minutes investigation revealed that many of the boards had 13 times the amount of formaldehyde allowed by California law.
As more issues with excess formaldehyde come to light, customers begin filing lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators
Over this summer, the number of lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators has jumped to 135. The suits allege that homeowners who installed the tainted flooring are at risk for severe health problems and lower property values. Some of the lawsuits claim the homeowner and their families have already run into health troubles due to high exposure.
Homeowners filing lawsuits are seeking compensation for reduced property values, the cost for removing and replacing the flooring and any medical expenses caused by formaldehyde exposure.
All of these lawsuits have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings since the cases are so similar.
Since the scathing 60 Minutes report, Lumber Liquidators has offered free indoor air testing kits to customers who installed Chinese-made laminate flooring in their homes. The company’s CEO resigned in May, and later that month, the company announced it would no longer be carrying laminate floors manufactured in China.