Lumber Liquidator's stock plunged on news that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had underestimated cancer risks from the flooring company's laminate floors imported from China.
The CDC originally announced on Feburary 10 that testing by federal agencies found the presence of formaldehyde in laminate flooring manufacturing in China between 2012 and 2014, and imported and sold in the U.S. by Lumber Liquidators. Now the CDC says it miscalculated the ceiling height, a factor that resulted in lowering the cancer exposure and risk.
Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc. contrast real hardwood's natural qualities with the unsafe laminate flooring that got Lumber Liquidators into trouble with consumers.
"The CDC/ATSDR indoor air model used an incorrect value for ceiling height," the agency said in its statement. "As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about 3 times lower than they should have been."
In its February 10 announcement, CDC said an analysis of a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report that it made with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) confirmed that formaldehyde is present in select Lumber Liquidators' laminate wood flooring products, but at levels very unlikely to cause cancer.
With today's announcement, the exposure to formaldehyde could be triple what was previously stated, according to some analysts. Here's what the CDC said today:
CDC/ATSDR was notified February 13 of an error in its report released February 10, 2016, about the possible health effects from exposure to formaldehyde emitted from select laminate flooring samples. Health risks of people who have the laminate flooring are being revised to reflect greater exposure to formaldehyde, which could cause eye, nose, and throat irritation for anyone. The estimated risk of cancer associated with exposure to the flooring increased.
The CDC/ATSDR indoor air model used an incorrect value for ceiling height. As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about 3 times lower than they should have been. The original report found:
Exposure to the low end of the modeled levels of formaldehyde in indoor air could cause increased frequency of asthma symptoms and other respiratory issues for people with asthma and COPD;
Exposure to the higher-end levels could result in eye, nose, and throat irritation for anyone; and
Low risk of cancer (2-9 cases per 100,000 people).
After correcting the measurement in the model, CDC/ATSDR is revising the possible health effects. The final results are not yet available, but are estimated to be closer to these:
Exposure to the range of modeled levels of formaldehyde in indoor air could cause increased symptoms and other respiratory issues for people with asthma and COPD;
Exposure to the lowest modeled levels of formaldehyde could result in eye, nose, and throat irritation for anyone; and
The estimated risk of cancer is 6-30 cases per 100,000 people. Because of the very conservative (health protective) nature of the models used in this analysis, the calculated risk is likely lower than our modeled estimate.
Our recommendations will likely remain the same –we strongly stress taking steps to reduce exposures, which should alleviate respiratory and eye, nose and throat irritation. These steps should also reduce the cancer risk.
Currently, CDC/ATSDR is conducting a quality review of the indoor air model and the revised results. The new draft report will be reviewed by CPSC, EPA, and HUD. The revised report will be posted when available.
The announcement is certain to roil manufacturers using engineered wood, who fear their products will be painted as hazardous by the general public - no matter that the panels used are truly CARB compliant or manufactured in the U.S.
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