Lumber Liquidators has stopped selling Chinese-made laminate flooring. They may be forced to recall flooring products if federal safety investigators find toxic levels of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical.
UPDATE: Lumber Liquidators Stops Selling Chinese Laminate Floors
May 7, 2015 — More than two months after concerns were raised about toxic levels of formaldehyde, Lumber Liquidators said it will pull all of its Chinese laminate flooring off the market until it completes a “sourcing compliance program.” Click here to read more.
Lumber Liquidators Flooring Recall
Lumber Liquidators has not recalled flooring for containing formaldehyde levels that may be dangerous to human health.
These allegations have been raised in numerous investigations since 2013. The company claims a recall is not necessary because the investigators used “deconstructive” testing, which involves taking a finished board, removing the laminate surface, and testing formaldehyde emissions from the core.
When the laminate surface is intact (as it would be installed in the home), formaldehyde emissions are slower. However, the chemical still vaporizes into a toxic gas at room temperature and slowly escapes into the air. The long-term health effects are unknown, but formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
CPSC Investigation Could Lead to Recall
Lumber Liquidators is under investigation by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal authority that can force the company to issue a recall or file a lawsuit if the company refuses to recall products that pose a “substantial hazard.”
The CPSC open an investigation in March 2015, soon after an investigation by 60 Minutes uncovered evidence that Chinese-made laminate wood floors sold by Lumber Liquidators were mislabeled as compliant with California’s emissions standards for formaldehyde.
According to CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye, it is “too early to tell” whether a recall is necessary. It will likely take months before health experts can determine if the flooring is dangerous. The threshold for issuing a recall is if a “substantial product hazard” is discovered:
“If we find out that we believe that there is a substantial product hazard, we will work with the company to seek a recall. … And we’ll just have to see what our health scientists come up with in terms of exposure levels.”
The CPSC has authority to conduct investigations and issue recalls under the Federal Hazardous Substance Act. Occasionally, the CPSC must file lawsuits or create a mandatory standard to force companies to issue recalls.
If Floors Contain Dangerous Formaldehyde, Lawmakers Demand Recall
Some lawmakers are already calling on Lumber Liquidators to recall flooring that contains toxic levels of formaldehyde. U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer has asked Lumber Liquidators to “initiate recalls or other disciplinary action.”
He also issued the following statement:
“Lumber Liquidators is reportedly selling formaldehyde-tainted wood flooring to customers everywhere, and the federal government must step in to investigate whether this product is dangerous and if a recall or other disciplinary action must be taken.”