Lumber Liquidators is accused of selling Chinese-made laminate wood floors that contain poisonous levels of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical.
What is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable chemical that has a strong, irritating odor even at very low concentrations (below 1 ppm). Exposure to formaldehyde can cause health problems.
Formaldehyde Poisoning Symptoms
Most cases of formaldehyde poisoning involve inhalation or skin/eye contact. The chemical is quickly absorbed into the body through the skin, nose, throat, or lungs. Even low levels can produce symptoms, such as:
- Watery eyes
- Burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat
- Coughing or wheezing
- Sore throat
- Skin irritation, blisters, and dry flaky skin
- Allergic reactions
Long-Term Side Effects of Formaldehyde Poisoning
There is no cure for formaldehyde poisoning, but there are ways to treat symptoms. Many people who are exposed to high levels of formaldehyde must be hospitalized. Even with intensive care, many develop permanent side effects.
Permanent side effects of formaldehyde poisoning may include:
- Memory and learning problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood or personality changes (i.e., depression, irritability)
- Sensory or perceptual changes
- Attention deficit
- Impairments in dexterity
- And more
Does Formaldehyde Poisoning Cause Cancer?
Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer in humans, especially under conditions of prolonged exposure or unusually high levels. These cancers primarily occur in the respiratory system, and may include:
- Myeloid leukemia
- Lung cancer
- Nasopharyngeal cancer
- Sinonasal cancer
- And more
How Much Formaldehyde is Poisonous?
In the late 1980s, the state of California determined that exposure to formaldehyde levels above 40 micrograms per day (equivalent to an indoor concentration of about 2 ppb) can result in a 1 in 100,000 lifetime risk of cancer. However, some people are more sensitive to formaldehyde than others.
Formaldehyde Poisoning from Laminate Wood Flooring
Lumber Liquidators has been hit with lawsuits and class actions accusing them of selling laminate wood floors with poisonous levels of formaldehyde.
The chemical is used to bind sawdust particles in the “core” of the board, also known as medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Over time, formaldehyde gas escapes from the board (called “off-gassing”) because formaldehyde vaporizes at room temperature.