A new analysis is raising concerns that Lowe’s could be selling Chinese-made laminate wood floors with dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The company has recalled Tecsun flooring, a brand that was only available online.
UPDATE: Lowe’s Stops Selling Some Flooring Over Formaldehyde Concerns
Home improvement retailer Lowe’s says it is halting sales of Tecsun laminate flooring made in China “out of an abundance of caution” after an analyst said it may contain toxic levels of formaldehyde. Click here to read more.
Does Lowe’s Flooring Have the Same Problem as Lumber Liquidators?
Now, Zhou has raised those same allegations against Lowe’s. Investigators bought a sample of “FH/L 3603 Chocolate Cherry Hickory” from Lowe’s and had it tested by Benchmark International, the same lab used by 60 Minutes when allegations against Lumber Liquidators went mainstream.
Although the box from Lowe’s was labeled as compliant with California Air Resources Board (CARB) limits on formaldehyde emissions, the flooring scored approximately 10x the threshold established by CARB.
According to Zhou:
“Independent tests show that one of Lowe’s floors scores 10x the allowed formaldehyde threshold. To put that in context, 60 Minutes tested 31 samples from Lumber Liquidators; Lowe’s Chocolate Cherry Hickory would have been the third worst of all 31 samples.”
Formaldehyde in Flooring
Many people who buy wholesale flooring do not realize that the products often contain some amount of formaldehyde. The cheapest flooring contains a core made of sawdust particles bound together with a formaldehyde-based resin or glue, also known as medium density fiberboard (MDF).
In general, the more formaldehyde in the glue, the cheaper the product. The problem is that formaldehyde vaporizes into a gas at room temperature and slowly seeps out of the board. Because formaldehyde is a carcinogen, there are strict regulations limiting emissions from flooring.
Health Problems from Formaldehyde in Flooring
Toxic formaldehyde “off-gassing” from flooring is especially serious for young children, because they play directly on the floors. However, anyone who is exposed can experience a wide range of health problems, both in the short and long-term.
Some of the symptoms of short-term formaldehyde poisoning include:
- Asthma or respiratory problems
- Watery eyes
- Burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat
- Coughing or wheezing
- Skin irritations, blisters, or dry flaky skin
- Allergic reactions
- Flu-like symptoms
The effects of long-term exposure to formaldehyde in flooring are not well-studied. However, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) warns about the following health risks:
- Memory and learning problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood or personality changes (i.e, depression, irritability)
- Sensory or perceptual changes
- Attention deficit
- Impairments in dexterity