March 23, 2015 — Lumber Liquidators may soon be under investigation by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), which could order a recall if tests on Chinese-made laminate wood floors reveal toxic levels of formaldehyde emissions.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) called on the CPSC and several other government agencies to investigate Lumber Liquidators. The matter is particularly concerning for residents of New York because many homes and apartment buildings were rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy.
In a press release, he warned that at-home tests provided by Lumber Liquidators were “difficult to obtain,” and insisted that government agencies should step in and test the product:
“The CPSC, in consultation with the EPA and CDC, should test whether this wood-flooring product, that is reportedly tainted with high levels formaldehyde, is out of compliance with industry voluntary standards for formaldehyde in household products, or worse, an immediate hazard to human health.”
Senator Schumer also called for an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to a 60 Minutes report, employees at Chinese mills openly admitted mislabeling flooring for Lumber Liquidators as compliant with California’s emissions standards.
Formaldehyde is an ingredient that is used to hold together particles of sawdust in the “core” of the board. The chemical turns into a gas at room temperature and seeps into the air, which is concerning because formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. It can also cause respiratory problems, allergies, or asthma-like symptoms.
This is not the first time building materials have come under scrutiny following a Hurricane. In the Gulf Coast, thousands of homes were rebuilt with toxic Chinese drywall after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Nearly 60,000 residents who were displaced after those disasters were temporarily housed in FEMA trailers containing toxic levels of formaldehyde.