WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Bill Nelson has asked for a federal probe of Lumber Liquidators following a "60 Minutes" report that some of the company's imported laminate flooring had dangerously high levels of formaldehyde emissions.
In a letter sent March 4 to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Federal Trade Commission, Sen. Nelson (D-FL) asked that the agencies "independently investigate and test these specific Chinese wood laminate products to determine if they present a risk to the public."
Sen. Nelson also asked that they determine "whether these laminate wood products, including its labeling as compliant with the California standard, may constitute an 'unfair or deceptive trade practice' as broadly prohibited by section 5 of the FTC Act."
Standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) list formaldehyde emission limits for MDF at 0.11 ppm (thin MDF is 0.13 ppm), particleboard at 0.09 ppm, and hardwood plywood panel goods at 0.05 ppm.
In its report, "60 Minutes" said it randomly tested packages of Lumber Liquidators' Chinese-made flooring sold in California, Virginia, Texas, Illinois and Florida and found high levels of formaldehyde emissions, an average of six times above CARB's acceptable levels, despite the fact the packages were marked CARB-compliant. High levels of formaldehyde have been linked to cancer.
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Lumber Liquidators has gone on record disputing the claims made in CBS' "60 Minutes" report. Following the March 1 airing, the company issued a statement which claimed, in part, "60 Minutes used an improper test method in its reporting that is not included in CARB’s regulations and does not measure a product according to how it is actually used by consumers."
That claim of improper formaldehyde emissions testing methods being used is false, says the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Association. HPVA Laboratories was one of the testing facilities used by "60 Minutes" in its expose.
"I don't agree that the wrong test methods were used," said HPVA President Kip Howlett. He added that CARB has standard operating procedures in place for testing emissions from composite wood products, including the deconstructive procedures for exposing the core material to evaluate the formaldehyde emission levels. A third-party certifier for the state, HPVA Laboratories' capabilities include large and small-scale chamber emissions testing.
Lumber Liquidators said in its statement that it randomly tests its six laminate flooring suppliers in China. The company will host a conference call on March 12 to provide an update on its business. Lumber Liquidators is the largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring in the United States.
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