June 8, 2015 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is questioning the usefulness of at-home air testing kits Lumber Liquidators provided to about 26,000 customers who were concerned about formaldehyde emissions.
When customers were provided with the kits, Lumber Liquidators sent a letter to customers claiming that a “recent study” from the EPA to support their conclusion that formaldehyde levels in those customers’ homes were normal.
That study was actually published in 2010 by researchers outside the EPA. It was referenced in an agency document, but doesn’t represent an EPA conclusion, the agency said. The EPA does not have standards on formaldehyde yet, but will be finalizing rules later this year.
In a report (PDF), the EPA stated:
“EPA has not taken a position on the Lumber Liquidators testing program but cautions the public that air testing may not provide useful information due to the uncertainties of home air testing, the lack of widely accepted health based standards for formaldehyde levels in indoor air to compare test results, and because air testing does not provide information on specific sources of formaldehyde, such as laminate flooring.”
According to Bloomberg Business, Lumber Liquidators has tested about 3,400 of the kits as of May 1, and concluded that 97% of them have formaldehyde levels within guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO guidelines for indoor air levels of formaldehyde must be lower than about 0.08 parts per million (ppm), regardless of exposure time. Lumber Liquidators told their customers the “normal” range was 0.02-0.10 ppm. In Canada, limits are 0.04 ppm for exposures longer than eight hours.