Flooring Health Risks – Lumber Liquidators’ Exposed

This past Sunday night, the CBS news magazine, 60 Minutes, aired an investigative story about flooring health risks and the illegal levels of formaldehyde in Lumber Liquidators’ wood laminate flooring sold to residents of California. The laminate flooring sold in Lumber Liquidators’ stores exceeds the California Air Resources Board Phase 2 (CARB 2) maximum level of toxic formaldehyde by up to 20 times the allowable amount. The World Health Organization suggests a cap for formaldehyde emissions at 0.042 ppm; the CARB 2 cap is .05 ppm. The CARB regulations are set to become law nationally this year.

Cutting costs but cutting corners

The glue used to create the wood composites under the laminate cover is primarily responsible for the high levels of formaldehyde in Lumber Liquidators’ products. These products were manufactured in China where 60 Minutes’ reporters interviewed plant managers who verified the products were produced for Lumber Liquidators and not CARB 2 compliant; although their product packaging falsely indicates they are compliant. Plant managers revealed that they could make CARB 2 compliant products for Lumber Liquidators, but it would be costlier. Because Lumber Liquidators was able to offer their laminate products at a much lower price than any other competitor, they were able to double profits, increase their sales and their stock price. But at the cost of considerable flooring health risks.

This revelation in Lumber Liquidators manufacturing and business practices affects tens of thousands customers in homes in California alone who now have to be concerned about the health effects of their purchase and eradicating the danger from their homes. There may hundreds of thousands nationwide. Of course this is a case of a corporation acting illegally by passing off its products as safety compliant, but also of buyer beware. No buyer would have been able to know the formaldehyde level of Lumber Liquidators products and their non-compliance with safety standards unless they had them tested. But, there are a few simple things customers can do to help protect themselves.


Learn what to look for

When buying flooring, there are several things you can do to protect your home and your family. First, smell the product and compare it to similar products from different manufacturers. This will give you a good idea which products may be more harmful. If it has a strong noxious odor, it likely has a higher level of formaldehyde. Second, ask the salesperson to confirm that the products are compliant with the law and for specific VOC data by providing you information from the manufacturer. Third, buy from reputable manufacturers and retailers. Reputable manufacturers will have this information. And finally, if the price is much lower than any other competitor, be skeptical about its quality.

Abbey Design Center sells laminate flooring from only reputable manufacturers such as Armstrong who have been issuing compliance statements and reports since the 60 Minutes story aired. See Armstrong’s statement here. Some laminate is produced in China but made to be CARB 2 compliant. All hardwoods we sell are harvested and manufactured in the United States or Canada by highly reputable companies; all carpet we sell is manufactured in the United States by highly reputable companies. Abbey Design Center has always been committed to quality and name brand products at a fair price. Abbey is committed to making your home not only beautiful, but safe for you and your family.

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