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After a barrage of criticism alleging Chinese laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators contains elevated levels of formaldehyde, the company announced Thursday it is no longer selling those products until an independent committee finishes reviewing its suppliers.
The review to date has shown the Chinese laminate flooring has met emission standards for formaldehyde set by California and set to be adopted nationwide later this year, according to a Lumber Liquidators news release.
But the company wants to further review the practices of its suppliers due to “mounting industry concerns” related to Chinese laminate flooring products.
“Despite the initial positive air quality testing results we have received, we believe it is the right decision to suspend the sale of these products.” Lumber Liquidators President and CEO Robert Lynch. “We will work diligently to meet the needs of our customers and to ensure their satisfaction.”
Lumber Liquidators has been weathering criticism since 2013 for allegedly selling laminate flooring products with an elevated level of formaldehyde. It is also alleged to have sold wood products illegally harvested from the habitat of an endangered Russian tiger, which is a violation of federal law.
The U.S. Department of Justice indicated last month it is seeking to file criminal charges against the Toano-based company for those allegations. Federal regulators are also conducting an investigation of the company’s laminate flooring sales.
The formaldehyde allegations were featured prominently in a scathing report in March by the CBS News program 60 Minutes. The company began offering free in-home air test kits since that report aired in March, with more than 26,000 kits going out to 15,000 customers, according to the news release.
Those kits returned results showing more than 97 percent of places where the laminate flooring was installed demonstrated indoor air concentrations of formaldehyde within World Health Organization guidelines.
How the test kit results match up with California’s standards is unclear. The CBS News report featured the executive director of California-based Global Community Monitor, who said he sent more than 150 boxes of laminate flooring from Home Depot, Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators to three independent labs for testing against California’s standards.
While the Home Depot, Lowe’s and American-made Lumber Liquidators laminates all had acceptable levels of formaldehyde, all of the Chinese-made products from Lumber Liquidators failed, according to the report.
The company is also contending with more than 100 pending lawsuits connected to the 60 Minutes report. Those are on top of several other lawsuits that have been filed against the company since federal agents first searched its Toano headquarters in 2013 over the wood allegedly harvested from the Russian tiger’s habitat.