March 25, 2015 — The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has confirmed that they are “actively investigating” formaldehyde levels in Chinese-made laminate wood flooring that was sold by Lumber Liquidators.
The announcement came just days after Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) demanded action from the CPSC and several other government agencies.
The CPSC will test samples and consider home-based exposure scenarios to consider the risks. They will not be using “deconstructive” testing, which several organizations have used to conclude that the boards release toxic levels of formaldehyde.
Lumber Liquidators has promised to cooperate throughout the investigation and they have turned over their own testing and safety information.
Commission Chairman Elliot S. Kay said the commission is “looking at months, unfortunately, not weeks” to determine exposure levels, and it was too soon to tell what levels might warrant a recall of the products.
He said the science is not fully developed on health risks associated with formaldehyde exposure, especially in the long-term. Therefore, the CPSC will need to rely on federal partners with jurisdiction and expertise in that area.
Formaldehyde is an ingredient in the glue that holds together wood particles in the “core” of a laminated wood board. The laminate surface generally traps fumes released by the glue. Tests involving deconstructed boards, on finished boards with the laminate surface ripped off, have shown very high levels of formaldehyde emissions.
A recent investigation by 60 Minutes also recorded employees at Chinese mills opening admitting mislabeling the boards as compliant with California’s emissions standards for formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde “off-gassing” poses serious health risks, especially for children who are crawling and playing on the boards. Mr. Kay also issued the following statement specifically addressing health concerns for children:
“I am a parent first and foremost. As a parent of young children, I completely understand and share the strong desire parents and other consumers have to know as soon as possible whether these products present a health risk. We are taking it very seriously and moving aggressively to get the answers that consumers, especially parents of young children, deserve to have.”