This Laminate Wood Flooring May Be Worse For You Than Previously Thought

March 23, 2016, 2:49 PM UTC
The sign outside the Lumber Liquidators store in Denver
The sign outside the Lumber Liquidators store in Denver February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR4R5MK
Photograph by Rick Wilking — Reuters

Updated as of 3:47 p.m. ET.

A line of laminate wood flooring that was made in China and sold by Lumber Liquidators is actually way worse for human health than previously estimated.

The levels of formaldehyde in some of the flooring could cause irritation and breathing problems as well as a higher lifetime cancer risk for anyone who is exposed, not just sensitive groups, according to a revised report by the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The report previously said that the laminate wood could cause issues for only higher-risk groups, but after re-looking at the data, the report found that the effects of formaldehyde in the product are actually worse than thought. The CDC revised the lifetime cancer risk associated with living full-time with the flooring from two to nine extra cases for every 100,000 people to now between six and 30 additional cancer cases per 100,000 people.

The group released the revised risks because it found a mistake in its original evaluation model. It used an incorrect value for ceiling height for the indoor air model.

“As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about three times lower than they should have been,” according to a statement released by the CDC.

The CDC didn’t change its recommendations for consumers regarding the best way to protect their health. The group still says affected consumers should reduce exposure, see a doctor for ongoing health symptoms, and consider professional air testing if irritation continues.

The suspect wood laminate was first revealed to be dangerous in a CBS News story by Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes.” The investigation found that certain Lumber Liquidator laminate products had strikingly high levels of formaldehyde that were causing breathing and irritation issues for individuals with asthma and other sensitivities. That prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to run its own tests, which were passed off to the CDC for their evaluation on health risks. Lumber Liquidators (LL) finally took the products off shelves in May 2015.

Lumber Liquidators also agreed to a $2.5 million charge Tuesday to settle claims with California regulators over the tainted products, sending its stock soaring 16% after investors believed this issue to be behind the retailer finally. It’s shares have since dropped as much as 4.5% this morning after the revised report was released.

Update: Clarified that the CDC’s recommendations remain the same as the original report.

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