As if you needed another reason to choose real wood over the faux version, it turns out that some laminate floors may cause cancer. A story that appeared on 60 Minutes last year uncovered dangerous formaldehyde levels with Lumber Liquidators' Chinese-made product that can raise the cancer risk and create or exacerbate other health problems. Lumber Liquidators is a U.S.-based company and the largest and fastest-growing retailer of hardwood flooring in North America, but has manufactured much of its laminate flooring in China.
While the CDC initially reported the risk to be low and "not significant enough to be considered a danger, a revised statement this week noted that their calculations were inaccurate and the risk is significantly higher. "The statement explains that the CDC's indoor air model originally used an incorrect value for ceiling height, leading them to miscalculate health risks about 3 times lower than they should have been,"said Medical Daily.
They put "the risk of cancer (which was originally reported to be 2-9 cases per 100,000 people) ended up being closer to 6-30 cases per 100,000 people."
Last year, Lumber Liquidators suspended sales of its laminate flooring produced in China after the 60 Minutes episode aired. But estimates of the number of households that already have the flooring nationwide are as high as hundreds of thousands.
The 60 Minutes Report
60 Minutes focused its investigation on Denny Larson, executive director of a nonprofit Global Community Monitor, and environmental attorney Richard Drury. "Drury and Larson bought more than 150 boxes of laminate flooring at stores around California and sent them to three certified labs for a series of tests. The results? While laminate flooring from Home Depot and Lowes had acceptable levels of formaldehyde, as did Lumber Liquidators American-made laminates, every single sample of Chinese-made laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators failed to meet California formaldehyde emissions standards. Many by a large margin," they said.
She Knows - Image: CBS News
The average formaldehyde level found in Lumber Liquidators' Chinese-made products were more than six to seven times above the state standard for formaldehyde, and we found some that were close to 20 times above the level that's allowed to be sold," they said. In addition to the cancer risk, the CDC put out a new release noting that toxic levels of formaldehyde can also increase the risk of asthma symptoms and other respiratory problems including eye, nose, and throat irritation.
So what should you do if you have these floors installed in your home?
1. Get your floors tested
Benchmark International was one of the two primary laboratories used by 60 Minutes in their recent report, said The Schmidt Firm. "Due to an overwhelming amount of public and professional inquiries, they ask that all professional requests for testing and other services are sent to them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can download the Benchmark International Laboratories Formaldehyde Testing Form here.
2. Follow the CDC recommendations for lowering your risk of exposure to formaldehyde
Keep your house filled with fresh air
Avoid smoking indoors (or at all)
Keep the home's temperature "at a comfortably low level to avoid too much heat or mold."
3. Consult an attorney
If anyone in your family has been feeling sick and you suspect your floors are the cause, consult an attorney.
4. Rip 'em out
Which is what many people profiled on 60 minutes have done. But don't expect to have them replaced by the company. There has yet to be a resolution involving replacement from Lumber Liquidators.
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