Formaldehyde in wood flooring has been a huge topic as of late. The TV program 60 Minutes had reported that flooring superstore Lumber Liquidators has been producing and selling wood flooring advertised as being compliant with Phase 2 of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulation “California 93120 Compliant for Formaldehyde” when in fact the program has found that it is not compliant. In order to comply with CARB Phase 2, wood flooring made with MDF (medium-density fiberboard) needs to have under 0.11 ppm of formaldehyde emissions. Formaldehyde is used in the glues which hold the fiberboard “core” of laminate flooring together.
60 Minutes reported that only 1 out of 31 samples of Lumber Liquidators’ flooring from 5 states was CARB Phase 2 compliant (Click here to download raw data). The report also referenced another independent study of laminate flooring purchased from Lumber Liquidators in California. Lumber Liquidators’ American made flooring was compliant, but their Chinese made products were not. Some samples were over 20x the limit!
How many homes have Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring? While there are no official numbers, the 60 Minutes report estimated that there are 10,000+ in California, and potentially 100,000+ in the USA!
On a federal level, the EPA is still working on formaldehyde regulations. In 2010, the federal government enacted the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act. The EPA was supposed to have its final rule in place by January 1, 2013, but now the best guess is September 2015. It is expected that this federal regulation will mirror the CARB Phase 2 standard. Many people are calling for immediate action.
Formaldehyde can come from other sources as well. It can be found in paints, insulation, paper products, and cigarette smoke. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause symptoms such as nosebleeds, cough, itchy eyes, and sore throat. People with asthma, bronchitis, or are pregnant can be more at risk to having effects from formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, particularly for causing cancer of the nose and throat.
Do you have questions about formaldehyde? Post a question in the comments section and I’ll try to respond quickly.
If you live in the Chicago area and would like for my company to test formaldehyde in your home, please visit: Formaldehyde Testing Chicago.