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Feel Good Report: Tainted Lumber?

New research makes us question what products in our homes may contain hazardous chemicals.



In a story reminiscent of Southwest Florida’s Chinese drywall woes, a new 60 Minutes exposé on Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators suggests the products are seeped in formaldehyde. (Southwest Florida contains two Lumber Liquidators locations.)

The news show featured the research of Denny Larson, executive director of the California-based nonprofit Global Community Monitor, and environmental attorney Richard Drury. Larson and Drury ordered lab tests of Lumber Liquidators flooring, which revealed that the lines made in the United States had acceptable levels of formaldehyde, but the stuff made in China failed to meet California formaldehyde emission standards—the average product exceeding it by six to seven times the state standard; others by nearly 20 times.

The company maintains the safety of its products and questioned the methodology used in the testing, suggesting the tests did not measure the products as they are actually used in the home. (You can read the company’s full statement and link to its own testing results here.)

But the situation does call to question the stuff we put in our homes. Flooring is hardly the only product that has raised red flags: The Environmental Working Group, among other organizations has warned about the use of fire retardants in furniture and carpeting and Teflon-coated pans, all of which can emit hazardous chemicals. Explore that group’s research at ewg.org

Back to the flooring: Even American-made products contain some amount of formaldehyde. The California Environmental Protection Agency, which sets strict rules for chemical emissions, suggests the following to alleviate emissions from indoor pollutants:

  • Ventilate your home well, especially after installing new products.
  • Keep indoor temperatures and humidity low.
  • Leave new products such as flooring or other synthetic laminates in a garage or covered carport to “off-gas” prior to installation.

For more information, visit arb.ca.gov/html/fact_sheets/composite_wood_flooring_faq.pdf.

 

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