An investigative report by “60 Minutes” accuses Lumber Liquidators of selling Chinese-made laminate flooring with illegal levels of formaldehyde, a toxic cancer-causing chemicals.
Get Your Floors Tested
Customers who have laminate floors from Lumber Liquidators can see if they qualify for a free test kit by visiting the website http://www.lumberliquidators.com/ll/testkit and filing out a questionnaire. However, this test kit is not comprehensive because it does not check formaldehyde in the flooring itself — only in the air 4 feet above the floor.
UPDATE: Lumber Liquidators Stock Drops on Regulatory Concerns
August 5, 2015 — Lumber Liquidators stock has plunged another 27% after the company announced impending action by state regulators and posted an unexpected loss for the quarter. Click here to read more.
July 17, 2015 — Lumber Liquidators is facing a growing number of shareholder lawsuits after the stock price plummeted from $117 to $20 and three top executives left the company. Click here to read more.
June 16, 2015 — More than 100 lawsuits accusing Lumber Liquidators of selling Chinese laminate floors with toxic levels of formaldehyde have been centralized (PDF) in one federal court in Virginia. Click here to read more.
June 8, 2015 — The 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. Click here to read more.
June 2, 2015 — At least 118 class action lawsuits have been filed in 30 states against Lumber Liquidators, and a woman from West Virginia has become the latest plaintiff to file a lawsuit (PDF) accusing the company of selling Chinese laminate floors with toxic levels of formaldehyde. Click here to read more.
May 21, 2015 — Lumber Liquidators said today that CEO Robert Lynch has “unexpectedly” resigned. Click here to read more.
May 12, 2015 —Lumber Liquidators has sued its insurers for refusing to provide coverage as it faces a growing number of legal headaches, including class actions and over 100 lawsuits. Click here to read more. Click here to read more.
May 7, 2015 — More than two months after concerns were raised about toxic levels of formaldehyde, Lumber Liquidators said it will pull all of its Chinese laminate flooring off the market until it completes a “sourcing compliance program.” Click here to read more.
May 1, 2015 — Some Chinese-made laminate wood flooring sold by Lowe’s may have a similar issues with formaldehyde levels as flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators, according to a new analysis published by Seeking Alpha. Click here to read more.
April 29, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into Lumber Liquidators for selling illegally-harvested wood in violation of the Lacey Act. Click here to read more.
April 27, 2015 — A panel of federal judges will meet on May 28 to decide whether to centralize at least 10 class action lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators into one district court in California. Click here to read more.
April 24, 2015 — A growing number of consumers in California say they do not trust home-testing kits provided by Lumber Liquidators for flooring that might contain toxic levels of formaldehyde. Click here to read more.
April 20, 2014 — Lumber Liquidators has been hit with a federal lawsuit in California accusing them of selling at-home testing kits that are not evaluated by an “independent” lab with accreditation for formaldehyde. Click here to read more.
April 15, 2015 — Attorneys representing members of a class action against Lumber Liquidators have filed a motion for injunction to stop the company from providing “unreliable” do-it-yourself test kits for formaldehyde that mislead customers about the safety of their floors. Click here to read more.
April 14, 2015 — Shareholders in Virginia have filed a lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators, accusing them of harming the company by selling laminate floors with dangerous levels of formaldehyde and using illegally harvested wood. Click here to read more.
April 8, 2015 — A couple from Michigan have joined a class action lawsuit accusing Lumber Liquidators of selling unreliable at-home test kits and covering up that the kits do not come from an independent third party, but the company itself. Click here to read more.
April 6, 2015 — Lumber Liquidators has been hit with a lawsuit accusing them of providing free home test kits that do not reliably check formaldehyde emissions from laminate floors. Click here to read more.
March 30, 2015 — A woman from South Carolina believes toxic flooring from Lumber Liquidators is responsible for making her family sick for the last three years. Click here to read more.
March 27, 2015 — A federal class action lawsuit has been filed by four New Yorkers accusing Lumber Liquidators of selling Chinese-made laminate wood floors with dangerous levels of formaldehyde. Click here to read more.
March 25, 2015 — The CPSC has confirmed that they will investigating Lumber Liquidators flooring, but they will not be using “deconstructive” testing methods that found toxic levels of formaldehyde gas emissions. Click here to read more.
March 23, 2015 — Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has asked the CPSC, FTC, and other government safety agencies to investigate formaldehyde emissions from Chinese-made laminate wood floors sold by Lumber Liquidators. Click here to read more.
March 20, 2015 — Several class action lawsuits have been filed in Nevada against Lumber Liquidators, accusing the company of selling Chinese-made laminate floors with dangerous levels of formaldehyde. Click here to read more.
March 18, 2015 — Lumber Liquidators is offering customers a free at-home test kit to check formaldehyde emissions from flooring, and may replace floors that emit toxic levels of the cancer-causing chemical. Click here to read more.
March 16, 2015 — As new lawsuits continue to be filed against Lumber Liquidators, one attorney in California has asked a panel of federal judges to consolidate 10 class actions into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in one federal court. Click here to read more.
March 9, 2015 — The founder of Lumber Liquidators says accusations about toxic levels of formaldehyde in their Chinese-made laminate wood products are based on improper tests. Click here to read more.
March 5, 2015 — Lumber Liquidators’ stock cratered by 50% after “60 Minutes” aired a report on toxic formaldehyde flooring, based on a 25 year-old kid’s investigation in 2013. If you bought common stock on or after January 1, 2011 and you continue to be a shareholder, you may be eligible to join a class action. Click here to read more.
What is the problem?
Experts believe tens of thousands of households in California have installed Lumber Liquidators laminate that fails to meet strict health and safety standards set by the state. Nationwide, potentially hundreds of thousands of homes may be affected.
Investigation Finds Toxic Formaldehyde in Lumber Liquidators Flooring
March 2015 — The CBS News report highlights the work of Denny Larson, a non-profit executive director, and Richard Drury, an environmental attorney, who want Lumber Liquidators to pay to remove and replace every single board.
The men are involved in a class action lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators, bankrolled by hedge-fund managers who are short-selling the stock. The stock price has dropped 40% since last week.
Larson and Drury bought more than 100 boxes of the laminate in California and sent them to three labs for testing. Laminate flooring from Home Depot and Lowe’s had acceptable levels of formaldehyde, as well as Lumber Liquidators’ American-made laminates.
However, every single sample of Chinese-made laminate from Lumber Liquidators failed to meet California’s emission standards — including some products that were close to 20-times higher.
Tests Find Illegal Levels of Formaldehyde
CBS News collected 31 samples from Lumber Liquidators locations throughout the United States and had them tested at two labs. Only one sample was compliant with California’s formaldehyde emission standards, and some were 13-times over the limit.
Chinese Mills Falsely Label Laminate Flooring
Posing as potential buyers, 60 Minutes sent an undercover team to a factory in China, where they spoke with factory managers who said the boards were falsely labeled:
“Employees at the mills openly admitted that they used core boards with higher levels of formaldehyde to make Lumber Liquidators laminates, saving the company 10-15% on the price. At all three mills, they also admitted falsely labeling the company’s laminate flooring as CARB-2, meaning it meets California formaldehyde emissions standards and the new U.S. federal law.”
Hazardous Levels of Formaldehyde
Experts quoted on 60 Minutes warned about long-term health effects, such as chronic respiratory irritation and asthma, which could be even more serious in young children because they crawl on the ground.
Formaldehyde is an ingredient used in cheap glue that is used in laminate flooring and other pressed-wood products. After installation, the “core” of the flooring can release formaldehyde as a gas. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde gas is known to increase the risk of cancer.
CPSC Investigates Lumber Liquidators
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) opened an investigation into Lumber Liquidators in March 2015. If the federal government finds dangerous levels of formaldehyde in the flooring, they can issue recalls. However, the product must pose a “substantial hazard” to health or safety. Click here to read more.
Symptoms of Formaldehyde Exposure
Formaldehyde poisoning can occur when levels exceed 40 micrograms per day. Short-term symptoms typically include burning eyes, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, coughing, and skin irritation. Exposure to high levels of formaldehyde, or low levels over a long period of time, can lead to cancer, permanent neurological deficits, and more.
According to a report (PDF) by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms and side effects of formaldehyde exposure include:
- Eyes: Stinging, burning, itching, watery or excessing tearing
- Nose or Throat: Stinging, burning, itching, sore throat, runny nose, blocked sinuses, sneezing, cancer
- Lungs: Chest tightness, wheezing, asthma
- Skin: Allergic contact dermatitis, skin rash, blisters, and flaky dry skin
- Neurological: Headaches, mood changes, depression, irritability, insomnia, attention deficit, nausea, impaired dexterity, memory, and equilibrium
Proposition 65 is a law in California that requires products containing toxic, cancer-causing chemicals to have warning labels. None of the products sold by Lumber Liquidators has a warning label on the bod.
Another Chinese Drywall?
The litigation may ultimately resemble one involving Chinese drywall, which emitted a toxic sulfur compound that corroded metal and caused health problems. It was used in 60,000-100,000 homes, mainly in Florida and Louisiana, from approximately 2001-2007.
In May 2014, the CDC confirmed that the drywall could cause headaches, chronic fatigue, respiratory problems, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Thousands of lawsuits and a number of class actions were eventually filed.