Lawsuits are now being filed against Lumber Liquidators on behalf of people who were exposed to formaldehyde, a toxic cancer-causing chemical, from Chinese-made laminate wood flooring.
Formaldehyde Exposure in Flooring Installers
Flooring contractors and installers are exposed to many hazards on the job, including formaldehyde emissions from laminated wood products.
Formaldehyde is a cheap chemical used in the glue that binds together sawdust particles in the “core” of the board. Because formaldehyde vaporizes into a gas at room temperature, “off-gassing” from the boards can be a significant source of exposure — especially in brand-new boards. Emissions are also worse at high temperatures and humidity.
Cutting laminated wood boards generates airborne dust that may contain toxic levels of formaldehyde. Sanding and machining boards can also produce dust. Although exposure can be reduced by using a dust collector on power tools and wearing a dust mask, it is almost impossible to completely avoid breathing some dust when installing new floors.
The problem is that formaldehyde can cause a number of serious health problems. In the short-term, symptoms may include:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Asthma-like symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- And more
Long-term exposure to formaldehyde is also associated with a number of different types of cancer, mostly affecting the respiratory system — nose, throat, sinus, nasopharynx, oropharynx, and lung cancer. Some studies of people who work with formaldehyde in embalming fluid have found higher rates of leukemia and brain cancer.
Laminate Floor Lawsuits
Lumber Liquidators, one of the largest wholesalers of flooring in the United States, is facing lawsuits and class actions accusing them of selling Chinese-made laminated wood flooring with toxic levels of formaldehyde. They are also accused of mislabeling their products as compliant with emissions limits set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
In March 2015, “60 Minutes” investigated and tested 31 samples of laminated wood from Lumber Liquidators locations around the United States. Remarkably, 30 products were over the emissions limit, including some products that had 20X more formaldehyde than is allowable.
Undercover investigators also went to China, where they recorded managers at three facilities who openly admitted that laminate boards were mislabeled as CARB-compliant when in fact they contained toxic levels of formaldehyde.