Cancer is something most of us take measures to prevent. You wear sunscreen, avoid cigarettes and alcohol, and receive regular checkups. However, there’s a hidden danger lurking in homes across the country that could cause you to develop cancer no matter what efforts you otherwise make. It’s been shown that some laminate floors contain formaldehyde, and this can cause a series of adverse health effects.
Previous reports have suggested the presence of formaldehyde, but a new one released last Tuesday by the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry elaborates on the increased risk for lifetime cancer as a result of exposure. Fortunately, there is a point of origin identified. Laminate wood flooring sold at Lumber Liquidators manufactured in China is to blame. Although they have ceased sales on the product, many already have it installed in their homes.
What Went Wrong in the Original Report
There was an error in calculations when it comes to the original report. Per 100,000, it was previously estimated that there were two to nine additional cases of lifetime cancer due to the formaldehyde found in this particular flooring choice. However, it’s been proven this number is closer to between six and 30 additional cases.
Due to this recent exposure, Lumber Liquidators has watched their stocks sink. After all, the new report increased the risk of the development of cancer from the product by three times the previous number. The reason the error developed is because of the miscalculation of airborne formaldehyde concentration estimates due to incorrect ceiling heights used in the study. However, it didn’t take long for those involved in the study to recognize and correct the error. The original report was made public on February 10, but it was removed nine days later and replaced with the new and corrected numbers.
Where it All Started
The story originated on the show “60 Minutes” with host Anderson Cooper. They reported that the level of formaldehyde found in specific laminate flooring was in excess of California Air Resources Board standards. Those involved with the story did their own testing using Lumber Liquidators’s products in a total of five states. Those included Virginia, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois.
Given the media hype, the Consumer Product Safety Commission decided to do some investigating of their own, and they found that samples of the wood they tested had shown to cause a number of adverse side effects including:
- Eyes, nose, and throat irritation
- Increased symptoms in those with asthma
- Increase of symptoms in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
While Lumber Liquidators originally stated back in March 2015 that they planned to continue sales of the product, they recanted that statement as of last Tuesday when they reported they haven’t sold the product since May 2015. The latest findings have been reviewed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Past Claims Currently Being Settled
Shortly after this report was made public, the California Air Resources Board took action and established that Lumber Liquidators, “failed to take reasonable prudent precautions to ensure those products met such limits designed to protect public health.” Because of this, a settlement was announced in the amount of $2.5 million. These funds were deposited into the California Air Pollution Control Fund. They plan to use the money to advance research on air quality to prevent problems like this from occurring in the future.
In addition, Lumber Liquidators has also agreed to take steps to move the industry in the right direction. They are working on setting new standards to better ensure a thorough testing process on the products they put on their shelves. While the laminate flooring boasted on its label that the product met company standards, it was revealed it did exceed the acceptable level of formaldehyde. A representative of the Air Resources Board Enforcement said that this situation has increased awareness on the enforcement of the airborne toxic control measure to protect the public from exposure to serious toxins.
What to Do If You Have the Defective Product
If you know or suspect that you have the product in question installed in your home or office, it’s important that you follow a few tips to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. Just some of the measures you can take include:
- Opening windows to ensure a steady flow of fresh air
- Utilizing exhaust fans
- Avoiding smoking in the home
Furthermore, if you notice anyone in the household experiencing difficulty breathing or similar symptoms, you should immediately consult with your doctor and seek professional help to install new flooring.