By: Leslie Goller and Wayne Hogan

Laminate flooring made in China for Lumber Liquidators has failed California emission standards on levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) is currently the only regulator of composite core emissions. Current CARB standards for formaldehyde are 0.05 parts per million or less. On July 7, 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which adds a Title VI to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), establishes limits for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products (hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard), and creates emission standards that were previously established by CARB.

60 Minutes investigation

However, Lumber Liquidators claims they adhere to these standards everywhere its products are sold. Every box of laminate flooring states that it is CARB 2 Phase Compliant. A “60 Minutes” segment on March 1, 2015 said it tested Lumber Liquidators’ flooring in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Illinois and New York for levels of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical. Out of the 31 samples of flooring CBS had tested, only one was compliant with formaldehyde emissions standards, some were more than 13 times over the CARB limit, according to CBS.

Dangers of Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde exposure may potentially cause a variety of symptoms and adverse health effects:

Affected Areas/Systems  Potential adverse health effects
Eyes •   Stinging, burning, or itching
•   Excessive tearing
Nose or throat •   Stinging, burning, or itching
•   Sore throat
•   Runny nose
•   Blocked sinuses
•   Sneezing
•   Cancer (human and laboratory animals)
Respiratory •   Chest tightness
•   Wheezing
•   Asthma
Skin •   Allergic contact dermatitis
•   Skin rashes, blisters, and flaky dry skin
Neurological •   Headaches
•   Mood changes (i.e., depression, irritability)
•   Insomnia
•   Attention deficit
•   Nausea
•  Impairments in dexterity, memory, and equilibrium

Long-term exposure to high levels of formaldehyde has been associated with cancer in humans and laboratory animals. A good resource regarding Formaldehyde was produced by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

What Consumers Can Do About It

While it is not illegal for flooring to contain formaldehyde (it’s in glues used to bind the wood pieces together), what is illegal is claiming a product complies when it doesn’t. There is not only an unfair and deceptive trade practices claim, there is also a product liability claim for both property damage and, possibly, personal injury.

According to the Global Community Monitor’s website, the affected flooring includes, but is not limited to, the following:

8 mm Bristol County Cherry Laminate Flooring
8 mm Dream Home Nirvana French Oak Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Antique Bamboo Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Oceanside Plank Bamboo Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut Laminate Flooring
15 mm Dream Home St. James Sky Lakes Pine Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Chimney Tops Smoked Oak Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Vintner’s Reserve Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Cape Doctor Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Cumberland Mountain Oak Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Americas Mission Olive Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Glacier Peak Poplar Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Golden Teak Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Imperial Teak Laminate Flooring (SKU 10029601)
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Summer Retreat Teak Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Sandy Hills Hickory Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Tanzanian Wenge Laminate Flooring
8 mm Dream Home Nirvana Royal Mahogany Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Blacksburg Barn Board Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Brazilian Koa Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Golden Acacia Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Ispiri Poplar Forest Oak Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Fumed African Ironwood Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James African Mahogany Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Chimney Rock Charcoal Laminate Flooring
12 mm Dream Home St. James Nantucket Beech Laminate Flooring

If you have one of these products, Terrell Hogan has experience representing clients for such claims, and is currently representing people affected by Lumber Liquidators’ contaminated flooring. If you or a family member have purchased laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators you may have a claim. Consumer law attorney Leslie Goller may be reached at (904) 722-2228.

First Coast News: Local Lumber Liquidators customers concerned about allegations 

Formaldehyde Could Be Lurking In Your Floors. How Bad Is That?

What is formaldehyde? 

What to do if you suspect formaldehyde in your flooring