Lawsuits claim that Lumber Liquidators has been selling Chinese-made laminate wood floors containing poisonous levels of formaldehyde. Over time, this cancer-causing chemical can cause a wide range of debilitating health problems.
What is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials. It is a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning it vaporizes into a gas at room temperature (called “off-gassing”).
Short-Term Symptoms of Formaldehyde Poisoning
- Watery eyes
- Burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat
- Coughing or wheezing
- Sore throat
- Skin irritation, blisters, and dry flaky skin
- Allergic reactions
Can Formaldehyde Poisoning be Treated?
There is no antidote for formaldehyde poisoning. However, symptoms can be treated and most people improve. Patients who have had signs and symptoms of short-term exposure may need to be hospitalized. Patients who have had direct exposure to highly-concentrated vapors may require intensive care and permanent health problems.
Permanent Health Problems from Formaldehyde Poisoning
Formaldehyde poisoning can cause permanent changes in nervous system function, leading to symptoms such as:
- Memory and learning problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood or personality changes (i.e., depression, irritability)
- Sensory or perceptual changes
- Attention deficit
- Impairments in dexterity
- And more
Can Formaldehyde Cause Cancer?
Yes. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing chemical) under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure. Several studies of professionals who are regularly exposed to formaldehyde on the job have found higher rates of cancer, including:
- Myeloid leukemia
- Lung cancer
- Nasopharyngeal cancer
- Sinonasal cancer
- And more
What Level of Formaldehyde is Poisonous?
Under Proposition 65, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has determined that exposure to formaldehyde above 40 micrograms per day (equivalent to an indoor concentration of about 2 ppb) results in a 1 in 100,000 lifetime risk of cancer.
Formaldehyde in Laminate Wood Flooring
Laminate wood flooring is generally made with a “core” of pressed wood, usually medium density fiberboard (MDF). This product consists of sawdust particles that are held together with glue or resin and laminated with a photograph of wood and a scratch-resistant surface.
Cheap laminate wood flooring contains high levels of formaldehyde in the glue or resin used to hold together pressed particles of wood. It is possible to make laminate wood with lower levels of formaldehyde, but these products are generally more expensive.