Durability + Design
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

D+D News

Main News Page


CDC Estimates Cancer Risks in Flooring

Friday, March 4, 2016

More items for Coatings Technology

Comment | More

Federal health regulators are estimating that excessive formaldehyde levels in select laminate flooring made by Lumber Liquidators could cause six to 30 cancer cases per 100,000 people.

That risk is three times higher than what was previously thought, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC issued a report Feb. 10 that stated formaldehyde levels in select versions of the company’s flooring could cause two to nine cancer cases per 100,000 people. However, the U.S. health regulators issued a statement eight days later noting errors made in its calculations.

flooring
©iStock.com / stocknroll

More than 100 million square feet of Lumber Liquidators' laminate flooring is installed in American homes each year, according to CBS. The image does not show flooring at issue in this report.

A revised report is expected to be posted on the CDC website when it is available.

Greater Cancer Risk

Formaldehye, a known human carcinogen, is a common ingredient in the glue used in laminate flooring and other pressed-wood products.

CDC’s statement said that “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.”

Background

Lumber Liquidators, founded in 1994, bills itself has North America’s largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, selling its products through more than 370 stores.

Concern over excessive amounts of formaldehyde in the company's laminate flooring surfaced March 1, 2015, when 60 Minutes aired an investigation into China-made laminates. More than 100 million square feet of Lumber Liquidators' laminate flooring is installed in American homes each year, CBS reported.

Soon after the episode aired, the company stopped selling China-made laminate flooring, its CEO quit and the company offered its customers free air-quality test kits.

respiratory
©iStock.com / anyaberkut

CDC says reducing exposure should alleviate respiratory and eye, nose and throat irritation.

In a separate matter, the Toano, VA-based flooring giant agreed to pay more than $13 million to settle Department of Justice allegations that it violated the Lacey Act and other conservation laws related to timber purchases.

Report Highlights, Corrections

Following the 60 Minutes episode and concerns raised over the formaldehyde levels, a Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation was initiated. The agency conducted tests of laminate flooring samples made in China during 2012-2014 that were sold through Lumber Liquidators’ retail locations.

The CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was then asked to evaluate those test results for possible health risks.

CDC’s 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 (two to nine cases per 100,000 people).

However, CDC said its miscalculations involved the ceiling height used to determine exposure risk.  

After correcting the measurement in the model, CDC estimated the final results 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 six to 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.

Despite the miscalculation, the agency said its ultimate recommendations would 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."

Review of the Revision

Further, the agency said it is conducting a quality review of the indoor air model and its revised results. Government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will have an opportunity to review the CDC’s new draft report.

In a statement, Lumber Liquidators commented that the CDC’s revision “overestimates any potential health risks” and said it was “encouraged that CDC is seeking a broader review of their conclusions,” according to USA Today.

   

Tagged categories: Adhesive; Centers for Disease Control; Construction chemicals; Flooring system; Government; Health and safety; Wood composites

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@durabilityanddesign.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 

© Copyright 2012-2018, Technology Publishing Co., All rights reserved