Lumber Liquidators cancer risk

According to a report from the CDC, Certain types of laminate flooring made by Lumber Liquidators (LL) have a greater risk of causing cancer or other health problems than previously believed,

U.S. health regulators said Monday.said Monday that people who purchased the China-made flooring are about three times more likely to get cancer than it had calculated earlier this month — a revelation that rattled investors, who sent Lumber Liquidators stock down 16.3% to $11.89 at 1:24 p.m.

Last March, a report on 60 Minutes said laminate floor products made in one of the retailer’s Chinese factories had unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. At the time, the company disputed the allegations, saying they were driven by short-sellers who stood to benefit when the stock price fell.

Last year, the company pleaded guilty to charges of making false declarations on import documents about the source of some of its flooring, and it agreed to a $10 million settlement with the Justice Department

Below is the the Statement from the CDC:

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.