Does your flooring contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde?

Earlier this week, 60 Minutes ran an exposé on Lumber Liquidators, uncovering that the company’s laminate flooring it imports from China contained levels of formaldehyde far above the levels allowed under the California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards. In fact, some of the flooring tested had formaldehyde levels 20 times the maximum level set by CARB.

The 60 Minutes piece interviewed some of the company’s Chinese suppliers, which admitted to falsely labeling the flooring as meeting the CARB standards in order to save the company 10-15 percent on the price.

Formaldehyde is used in a number of flooring, building products, and other household applications, and levels of formaldehyde present in those products has declined dramatically in recent years. As the Consumer Product Safety Commission notes, “For most people, a low-level exposure to formaldehyde will not produce any adverse effects.” Very high levels of formaldehyde, however, can pose serious health problems and at high levels, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) has listed the chemical as a carcinogen.

If an investigation by California confirms that Lumber Liquidators is, in fact, selling products with high levels of formaldehyde, the company must be held accountable for its actions. Consumers need to be confident they can trust labels stating products meet federal or state chemicals standards. These regulations exist for a reason (usually!), and lower prices on imported goods are never a good reason to expose consumers to unsafe levels of chemicals.