03.22.15

SCHUMER CALLS ON FEDS TO INVESTIGATE SAFETY OF LUMBER LIQUIDATORS’ WOOD FLOORING & RECALL PRODUCT IF DANGEROUS – RECENT REPORTS SHOW CHINESE-IMPORTED WOOD FLOORING COULD CONTAIN DANGEROUS AMOUNTS OF CARCINOGENIC FORMALDEYHYDE, POLLUTING THE AIR INSIDE NYC APARTMENTS & HOMES LIKE THOSE REBUILT POST-SANDY

A “60 Minutes” Report Revealed This Month That Lumber Liquidators Laminate Flooring Is Made In China & Likely Contains Unsafe Levels of Formaldehyde – Report Studied Wood Samples From New York, Which Did Not Meet Key Environmental Standards

 

Schumer Highlights Serious Concerns That Lumber Liquidator Wood is Polluting Air Inside NYC Apartments – With Generally Poor Ventilation – And Homes Recently Rebuilt After Superstorm Sandy;  Formaldehyde Is A Dangerous Carcinogen That Could Also Cause Short- & Long-Term Respiratory Problems for Residents, Like Asthma or Worse

 

Schumer Urges CPSC and Federal Partners to Immediately Investigate Lumber Liquidators Chinese-Made Flooring Material & Determine if Industry-Set Standards Are Too Weak to Protect Consumers – Also Urges FTC to Investigate If Lumber Liquidators Used Unfair & Deceptive Labeling Practices

 

Standing outside a New York City Lumber Liquidators showroom, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to immediately launch a broad investigation into the safety of Chinese-imported wood flooring material from Lumber Liquidators, and to initiate recalls or other disciplinary action if the product is found to be dangerous. Schumer noted that homes recently rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy could be at risk, and that negative respiratory impacts are more strongly felt in apartments with poor ventilation.

Schumer said that the CPSC, in consultation with the EPA and CDC, should test whether this wood-flooring product, that is reportedly tainted with high levels formaldehyde, is out of compliance with industry voluntary standards for formaldehyde in household products, or worse, an immediate hazard to human health. More broadly, he also urged the CPSC to do a full review of the standards set by the laminate product industry in regards to safe amounts of formaldehyde in laminate flooring, to determine if a stronger CPSC-set standard is needed. 

A recent ’60 Minutes’ report, which tested wood materials from New York stores, exposed concerns that Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring contains unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a dangerous carcinogen that can also cause short- and long-term respiratory problems. In addition, the ’60 Minutes’ report suggested that Chinese mills manufacturing the product were not complying with the California Air Resources Board emission standard and were falsely labeled as compliant. Lumber Liquidators has started providing at-home tests so that customers can determine if their wood flooring is dangerous, but it is very difficult to obtain such tests. Schumer today said that, instead, the federal government must step in to test the safety of this product.

“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. The fact that this carcinogen may be polluting the air inside New York City apartments and homes newly rebuilt after Sandy makes it a top concern for this region, and it seems abundantly clear that the company cannot be left to its own devices in addressing this potential health threat,” said Schumer.

“Elevated formaldehyde levels can pose seriously dangerous health risks and that’s why the feds need to launch an immediate investigation into Lumber Liquidators and take action, if the product is found to be ridden with toxins,” Schumer continued. “First, the CPSC should test whether the flooring is an immediate hazard to human health and, second, the FTC should investigate whether Lumber Liquidators used deceptive practices by labeling the product as safe.”

If CPSC conducts an investigation and finds that the formaldehyde-ridden wood flooring is an immediate hazard to human health or if Lumber Liquidators is not complying with industry standards to protect public health, they can create a mandatory standard and initiate a recall. According to the Federal Hazardous Substance Act, CPSC can conduct a defect investigation on the product and if necessary create a mandatory standard for formaldehyde levels. Schumer today said that because formaldehyde can cause respiratory issues for residents with asthma or allergies, CPSC should also investigate the accuracy of labeling on Lumber Liquidators’ laminate wood.

In addition, Schumer is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether Lumber Liquidators has been using unfair and deceptive practices by mislabeling their products as compliant with the California emission standard. According to the “60 Minutes” report, Lumber Liquidators labeled their products as CARB 2 Compliant, however, the Chinese-mills claimed that the products were not actually complying with the state’s emission requirements. Schumer explained that the FTC should investigate whether or not Lumber Liquidators knowingly deceived consumers by selling toxic formaldehyde-ridden laminate flooring.

 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature; it is a known carcinogen and exposure may cause adverse health effects. Nasal and eye irritation, neurological effects and increase risk of asthma and allergies have been observed in humans breathing 0.1 to 0.5ppm. Eczema and changes in lung function have been observed at 0.6 to 1.9 ppm. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), studies have suggested that exposure of formaldehyde in homes can create asthma or asthma-like symptoms for children.

 

Lumber Liquidators has over 360 stores across the country, including at least fifteen in New York State. According to the “60 Minutes” report, more than 100 million square feet of laminate flooring is installed each year in America. The formaldehyde is used in the glue that binds the wood particles together.  The report found that while the American made laminate at Lumber Liquidators had acceptable levels of formaldehyde, the China-made Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring likely contains unsafe levels of formaldehyde. California has strict standards on how much formaldehyde may be emitted from laminate flooring. Lumber Liquidators’ boxes contain California Air Resources Board (CARB) Phase 2 Compliant labels.  In California, the “60 Minutes” report found that, although the boxes were CARB compliant, some laminate was over six or seven times above the state’s standard for formaldehyde. The Chinese-made flooring comes from Chinese mills licensed by California, however, investigators found that employees at the mill were using core boards with higher levels of formaldehyde to save the company money. The mills admitted to falsely labeling the company’s laminate flooring as CARB 2.

 

“60 Minutes” also tested Lumber Liquidators’ flooring sold in states outside California. Out of 31 boxes of the flooring, only one was compliant with formaldehyde emissions standards; some were more than thirteen times the California limit, which Congress adopted in the Formaldehyde Standards Act in 2010 which is set to take effect this year. Following the “60 Minutes” report and other media reports, Lumber Liquidators began providing formaldehyde test kits to consumers. However, Lumber Liquidators has not yet said whether or not they will replace a customer’s floor if it is found to have elevated levels of formaldehyde.

 

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