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Are Bad Tests to Blame for Formaldehyde Flooring Fiasco?


March 9, 2015 — The tests used by 60 Minutes to determine formaldehyde levels in Chinese-made laminate wood flooring were improper, according to the founder of Lumber Liquidators.

The company is under fire after a 60 Minutes investigation found that 30 out of 31 products had formaldehyde emissions that were significantly higher than those allowed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

According to an update on Lumber Liquidators’ website:

60 Minutes used an improper test method in its reporting that is not included in California’s regulations and does not measure a product according to how it is actually used by consumers. 60 Minutes used a “deconstructive test,” which would be like testing the emissions of a car by removing the catalytic converter and muffler.”

Essentially, 60 Minutes took a finished product and deconstructed it by removing the laminate surface and sanding the fiberboard core. Emissions were understandably higher than tests on a finished product because the laminated surface helps “seal in” some of the formaldehyde gas.

In contrast, Lumber Liquidators does two rounds of testing — one on the fiberboard core and another on the finished product. The company has presented data showing that the boards are within California’s limits for formaldehyde emissions when this test is used.

It is likely that the final decision about which test is acceptable will be left to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Meanwhile, the company’s stock plummeted by over 50% after the 60 Minutes program. That’s good news for investors who are short-selling the company’s stock and bankrolling class action lawsuits. They were also the driving force behind the original allegations of toxic formaldehyde levels in laminate flooring.


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