Lumber Liquidators is one of largest retailers of both wood and laminate flooring in North America. In fact, there is more than 100 million square feet of the company’s laminate flooring alone sold and installed in American homes every year. In a startling recent report on CBS’ “60 Minutes”, the news show claims Lumber Liquidators has been selling laminate flooring that contains levels of formaldehyde in excess of regulatory standards.
The flooring at issue is Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring made in China. (American-made laminates sold at Lumber Liquidators had acceptable levels of the formaldehyde.) Independent test performed by CBS News indicated the flooring failed to meet health and safety standards due to the high levels of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable chemical, and is a common ingredient in the glue used in laminate flooring. During and after installation, it is released as a gas that causes burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, joint pain and nausea. At long-term exposure, formaldehyde is listed as a known cause of cancer in humans by both the federal government and the State of California.
On the program, Dr. Philip Landrigan, a physician at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, said that long-term exposure to formaldehyde from the Lumber Liquidators flooring increases the risk for chronic respiratory irritation, reduced lung function and asthma. Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a physician, toxicologist and former dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health stated that this is especially true in children. “For flooring I’d be more concerned about acute health effects, particularly for infants crawling over the floor. Children breathe in more air relative to their small body sizes than do adults. When they work hard, as they do when they crawl or run, they will have maximal respiratory uptake of anything gassing off the floor. Pets too,” he added.
“For its report “60 Minutes” reporters went undercover to factories in China that produce laminate flooring for Lumber Liquidators that the company says is “CARB 2” compliant, meaning it complies with California standards (and soon to be federal standards). Managers in these Chinese facilities acknowledged that inventory being produced for Lumber Liquidators was being labeled “CARB 2” compliant, even though everyone in the facility was aware of the fact it was not.
According to the non-profit organization Global Community Monitor (“GCM”), the Lumber Liquidators flooring from Chinese factories emit toxic gas in excess of 100 times the regulatory standards. “The levels of formaldehyde our tests found in Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring are astounding and alarming,” said Denny Larson, executive director of GCM. “It’s unconscionable that Lumber Liquidators would sell this product to customers to install in their homes without informing families of the potential health risks involved, especially since they make a point of bragging about how environmentally safe it is.”
Some homeowners who bought the Chinese laminate from Lumber Liquidators have already taken action. The first class action lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that “Lumber Liquidators manufactures, sells, and distributes Chinese Flooring that emits and off-gasses excessive levels of formaldehyde.” The plaintiffs charge the flooring company with violating the Lacey Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as well as with unjust enrichment, breach of warranties, and violating business laws. “Unfortunately, one of the primary reasons Lumber Liquidators has grown so quickly and its profits have surged has been through the company’s misrepresentations about formaldehyde levels of its products and through its sourcing of cheap (and illegal) lumber from China,” the plaintiffs claim.
If you have experienced a problem with laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators we would welcome a chance to speak with you. Contact the experienced attorneys at Suthers & Harper online or call us on our toll free number, 1-800-320-2384, to set up a FREE consultation.