Last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) declined to issue a mandatory recall but announced that Lumber Liquidators has agreed to not sell its inventory of laminate wood flooring imported from China. The announcement marked the end of the CPSC’s investigation of Lumber Liquidators, which was prompted by a March 2015 segment on 60 Minutes alleging that the company sold Chinese-made flooring with unsafe formaldehyde levels.
Lumber Liquidators has agreed to continue operating its “recall to test” program, offering free test kits to the over 600,000 consumers who purchased the flooring before the company stopped selling it in May 2015. If the test kit reveals elevated formaldehyde levels, Lumber Liquidator has agreed to cover the costs of helping homeowners conduct additional tests and any necessary remediation. So far, the testing program has analyzed indoor air quality in 17,000 homes and found elevated formaldehyde levels in about 1,300 of them; however, CPSC reports that “none of the floors tested above the remediation guideline.”
Based on its examination of the product and test data, CPSC concluded that the flooring does not contain unsafe levels of formaldehyde. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,
eye, nose, and throat irritation could occur with the higher formaldehyde emitting flooring samples in certain home environments. Irritation can happen in anyone, but is more likely among children, older adults, and people with respiratory issues, such as asthma or other breathing problems. Very high levels of formaldehyde in homes may also be associated with a small increase in cancer risk.
CPSC will continue to monitor test results and consider new information as it becomes available. Lumber Liquidators has also agreed that future flooring products will be subject to “enhanced supplier controls designed to achieve compliance with California formaldehyde requirements and any future federal requirements for laminate flooring.” In March, the company paid $2.5 million to settle the California Air Resources Board’s claims that the flooring exceeded state formaldehyde limits and reported in May that it will pay $26 million to settle related shareholder suits.