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Homeowners adding new flooring are focused on its durability, look and how much they’ll need to cover an area – not about a product’s potential cancer risks.

Yet, recent reports reveal that several laminate flooring products sold through Lumber Liquidators present this scenario, as certain Chinese-manufactured products emit high levels of formaldehyde – up to 13 times the accepted level in some cases. As a result, multiple plaintiffs have come forward to file lawsuits against the company, alleging Lumber Liquidators devalued their homes and exposed them to a carcinogen.

Background

Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen associated with developing myeloid leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer, yet very small amounts are used in laminate flooring as a binding agent. Children, more so than adults, tend to be most susceptible to developing these conditions after formaldehyde exposure.

Additionally, exposure further puts people at risk for developing other health problems, including shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue.

The high levels in Lumber Liquidator products came to light in a March 2015 report from 60 Minutes. Researchers examined 31 samples, discovering that 30 out of this group failed to meet California’s emission standards. In some extreme cases, the flooring had 13 times the acceptable limit.

As a follow-up, their team then gathered samples from other states and ran the same tests. After 150 boxes were tested in three separate labs, all but one failed to meet the state’s standards.

However, all were labeled “CARB 2 compliant,” indicating they were within California’s emissions guidelines. When 60 Minutes reached out to the Chinese factory, they said it’s cheaper for them to produce non-compliant flooring.

While Lumber Liquidators now says it has stopped selling Chinese-made laminate flooring, the Centers for Disease Control followed 60 Minutes’ report by issuing a statement that the flooring may be linked with a greater risk of cancer and other health problems than previously believed. The CDC stated its initial report hadn’t been accurate, with risks three times lower than it should have been. Their revised version stated that the amount of formaldehyde in Lumber Liquidators’ products could be linked with six to 30 cases of cancer per 100,000 individuals, in addition to other cases of asthma, eye, nose and throat irritation.

Products Involved

The following Lumber Liquidators’ products sold over the past four years were all found to have high levels of formaldehyde:

  • 8 mm Bristol County Cherry Laminate Flooring
  • 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana French Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Antique Bamboo Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Oceanside Plank Bamboo Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut Laminate Flooring
  • 15 mm Dream Home St. James Sky Lakes Pine Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Chimney Tops Smoked Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Vintner’s Reserve Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Cape Doctor Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Cumberland Mountain Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Americas Mission Olive Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Glacier Peak Poplar Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Golden Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring (SKU 10029601)
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Summer Retreat Teak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Sandy Hills Hickory Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Tanzanian Wenge Laminate Flooring
  • 8 mm Dream Home Nirvana Royal Mahogany Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Blacksburg Barn Board Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Brazilian Koa Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Golden Acacia Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Poplar Forest Oak Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Fumed African Ironwood Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James African Mahogany Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Chimney Rock Charcoal Laminate Flooring
  • 12 mm Dream Home St. James Nantucket Beech Laminate Flooring

Lawsuits

While the initial report focused on California’s emission standards, the state’s recommendations will soon be adopted nationally for formaldehyde exposure. As a result, all homeowners are encouraged to have their laminate flooring tested for this carcinogen.

Lawsuits picked up after the 60 Minutes investigation at the state level, with plaintiffs alleging the company’s product exposed them to a greater cancer risk and brought down their property value. Further, lawsuits allege Lumber Liquidators falsely advertised their products, which initially claimed they complied with advanced environmental requirements.