5 On Your Side

Kits available to test safety of Lumber Liquidators flooring

Posted March 19, 2015

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— Retailer Lumber Liquidators is offering free test kits to customers concerned after a “60 Minutes” report revealed some of the company's laminate flooring contained higher than acceptable levels of formaldehyde.

Mike Kuhn, of Raleigh, has the flooring in question in his living room.

"I want to know, is this dangerous?" Kuhn said. "Is it still dangerous? Was it dangerous three years ago when I first put it down? You may never know."

Lindsay Cook, an industrial hygienist with EI Group in Morrisville, says "The first step is obviously not to tear out your flooring."

He says formaldehyde is found in many household products. "(It's) typically particle board, plywood, other materials that have formaldehyde resins and adhesives in their construction." It’s also in carpeting, cosmetics and tobacco smoke.

The issue is the amount of exposure. Formaldehyde, a colorless, strong-smelling gas, is known to cause anything from headaches and irritated eyes to cancer. Cook notes, as time passes, the floors air out and formaldehyde levels dissipate. Recently installed flooring would likely have a higher level than older flooring.

"Take some samples, determine what the concentrations are in the air in your home," Cook recommends. "Then make an informed decision about what to do next."

Many air samples related to the flooring are being tested at a lab in Raleigh. Sensors Safety Products just shipped out thousands of testing kits – each contains two testing badges.

Catherine Bearden, with Sensors Safety Products, said the tests are simple, but placing the badges at "breathing level" is critical.

"If you have a 3-year-old, you're probably going to put it down lower,” Bearden said. “And if there is an adult in the room, then you're going to probably put it higher."

Bearden recommends one badge be placed in a room with the questionable flooring, and the other in a room without. The badges should be placed away from air fresheners, smoke and air exchanges.

The devices should sample the air for 8 hours. Then customers send them back to the lab for processing. The total cost is $90.

Last week, Lumber Liquidators started offering free test kits. Customers can request a kit on the company’s website.

Experts 5 On Your Side talked with recommend those concerned do both tests and compare results. If the initial test come back with a worrisome level, more extensive testing would be needed.

Mike Kuhn did the testing at his home.

"Once I get the results back, I will move on from there," he said.

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