Although carpet still covers nearly 70% of the flooring in the United States, renewed interest in hard floors has propelled discount wood and laminate flooring sellers to new heights in recent years.
That doesn’t mean all these sellers are doing well. Lumber Liquidators saw its shares tumble even lower this week after the Environmental Protection Agency questioned the effectiveness of home safety tests the flooring company had sent out to soothe consumer fears that its products emitted high levels of carcinogens. That news came just a week after the retailer’s chief compliance officer left. The company is also facing more than 100 lawsuits regarding harvesting and safety compliance.
In response to consumer concerns regarding one of those compliance issues — the emission of potentially toxic levels of formaldehyde from laminate flooring products made in China — Lumber Liquidators had sent thousands of DIY test kits that people could use to measure formaldehyde concentrations in their homes’ air.
While the EPA didn’t give a definitive opinion on the safety of Lumber Liquidators’ products, it posted on its website on June 5 that the air test kits “may not provide useful information due to the uncertainties” of the testing method itself.
The EPA further objected to Lumber Liquidators’ use of what it called an EPA study to reassure customers; in reality, the referenced research was conducted by an outside party and was simply referred to in the organization’s files. It does not represent a conclusion from the EPA, the agency clarified.
The EPA doesn’t currently regulate formaldehyde levels, though it says standards first proposed in 2013 should be finalized by the end of the year.
Lumber Liquidators has claimed that the concentration of formaldehyde in the homes that have been tested so far has fallen in a “normal” range of 0.02 to 0.10 parts per million. The current guidelines from the World Health organization state that indoor air should have less than 0.08 parts per million of formaldehyde.