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How to test your Lumber Liquidators floors for formaldehyde

You’ll be floored over this consumer nightmare. Ever since a 60 Minutes report accused Lumber Liquidators of selling hardwood flooring products from China containing high levels of formaldehyde, mounting customer concern compelled the national retailer to react. Though the chemical is classified as a known carcinogen, its health effects are not completely understood.

The pollutant is sometimes used in the composite wood-based layer of floorboards and commonly found in nail hardeners and varnish and is used for the embalming of human remains. The company has since sent thousands of free test kits to consumers to detect formaldehyde levels.

The air-quality tests contain a plastic disc, which homeowners place in an open area of installed flooring, at least four feet above ground. After remaining there with open airflow for 24 to 48 hours, customers note the start and end time and send it back to Lumber Liquidators for analysis. Customers receive the emission results via email within 7 to 10 days. If concentration levels are excessive, a test lab will alert both the customer and Lumber Liquidators, triggering a “home health check” by the company. This entails additional tests such as particle counts, thermal imaging, taking wall samples, and examining other furnishings in the home. The flooring giant has not yet revealed whether it will pay to replace the customer’s floors or not.

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The test is far from comprehensive, as it can only assess the amount of formaldehyde in the air, not at the source. Gas-burning stoves also emit the chemical, as does some carpeting, latex paint and cabinetry, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In addition, the California Air Resources Board advises that to test floorboards for compliance, the outer layer or layers of material, such as veneer, must be removed to expose the core, which is where the carcinogen glue is typically used, according to a NBC News.

More information on formaldehyde in flooring can be found here.