Lumber Liquidators Faces Injunction Over Formaldehyde Test Kits

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Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators have requested an injunction that would bar the company from sending customers ‘unreliable’ do-it-yourself formaldehyde testing kits they say provide inaccurate results.

What’s the Problem?

Plaintiffs requested the injunction on April 8, saying the formaldehyde test kits Lumber Liquidators was sending out were little more than a public relations gimmick, and likely to under-report the amount of toxic gas in the flooring because they only test the air around the floor instead of the finished product.

“The results of this campaign will potentially be catastrophic,” the plaintiffs said. “Lumber Liquidators’ public relations inspired ‘air tests’ will falsely lead some to believe that their floors  are safe, and to forgo effective measures to reduce the health risks the floors pose.”

The plaintiffs further requested that Lumber Liquidators be prohibited from maintaining to consumers that the kits are effective, and asked that the company recommend third-party air quality testing to customers with laminate floors.

Class Action Filed After “60 Minutes” Exposé

The class action was filed after a March 1 report on “60 Minutes” revealed toxic levels of formaldehyde in Lumber Liquidators’ Chinese-made laminate flooring. The company responded by attempting to discredit the tests, arguing that the labs that performed the testing shouldn’t have removed the flooring’s laminate covering.

The plaintiffs said composite wood products like Lumber Liquidators’ laminate floors are among the largest emitters of formaldehyde because the substance is contained in resins used to bind the cheap wood together.

Plaintiffs Question Reliability of Test Kits

Unlike the do-it-yourself kits provided by Lumber Liquidators, the tests ordered by “60 Minutes” complied with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), according to the proposed injunction.

Lumber Liquidators’ composite flooring is labeled as being CARB compliant, and the company maintains that its products are safe. However, the plaintiffs say the kits the company is sending out have been criticized by an industrial hygienist, and CARB has actually warned that the tests won’t necessarily indicate whether floors are emitting toxic levels of formaldehyde, duping customers into believing they’re safe.

“Lumber Liquidators may actually believe its public relations claims that multiple laboratory tests were improper, and that do-it-yourself testing kits are a more accurate measure of the formaldehyde in the home,” the plaintiffs said. “But it cannot be allowed to stake the health of its customers on that gambit by encouraging them to delay crucial action.”

Lumber Liquidators Slow to Issue Test Results, Replace Flooring

April 27 – Lumber Liquidators customers worried their Chinese-made laminate wood floors are exposing them to unsafe levels of formaldehyde say the company is making it hard for them to test the products and get them replaced. Many customers have complained they haven’t received their test results, and Lumber Liquidators has refused to comment on how many tests have come back positive for formaldehyde.

Lumber Liquidators Formaldehyde Test Kits Questioned by EPA

The testing kits Lumber Liquidators has been sending customers to measure formaldehyde levels in their homes “may not provide useful information due to uncertainties” of the method, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While it didn’t go so far as to say the tests were completely unreliable, the agency did say the devices can’t pinpoint the source of contaminant, and that there are no widely accepted guidelines for indoor formaldehyde levels.

“Lumber Liquidators agrees with the EPA in that home testing cannot identify the source of formaldehyde in consumers’ homes,” the company said in response. “We also believe, however, that indoor air testing can provide guidance on the presence or absence of elevated levels of formaldehyde in the home –- which helps determine whether further testing is warranted.”

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