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Flooring 101 - the best resource on the web for everything about hardwood floors!


Formaldehyde - What Is It?

Formaldehyde is a simple compound made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and is a colorless, strong-smelling gas. It exists naturally in the environment, our bodies, and in food and is important in the human metabolic process.  It is a central building block in the synthesis of many other compounds.  Man-made formaldehyde is an important chemical used widely by industry to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. Thus, it may be present in substantial concentrations both indoors and outdoors.  


What Products Contain Formaldehyde?


How Bad Is It?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million).  High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans.  Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions.

 

What Can a Consumer Do?

Regulations and Lumber Liquidators' Compliance

The California Air Reform Bill (CARB) requires that products containing Hardwood Plywood Veneer Core (HWP-VC), Hardwood Plywood Composite Core (HWP-CC), Particleboard and MDF be tested for emissions and products not meeting the strict standards for emissions may not be sold in California. 

 

The Environmental Protection Agency has drafted national standards for formaldehyde emissions in composite wood products that are similar to those of California.  Those standards have not yet been enacted. 

 

All laminates and engineered flooring products sold by Lumber Liquidators are purchased from mills whose production method has been certified by a Third Party Certifier approved by the State of California to meet the CARB standards.  The scope of the certification by the Third Party Certifier includes the confirmation that the manufacturer has implemented the quality systems, process controls, and testing procedures outlined by CARB and that their products conform to the specified formaldehyde emission limits. The Third Party Certifier also provides ongoing oversight to validate the manufacturers' compliance and manufacturers must be periodically re-certified.

 

Though it currently applies only to products sold in California, Lumber Liquidators made a decision to require all of our suppliers to comply with CARB regardless of whether we intended to sell the products in California or any other state/country.  In addition, our suppliers manufacture their products in accordance with the European standard which has stricter guidelines than the California. 

 

In addition to the CARB requirements, Lumber Liquidators regularly selects one or more products from each of its suppliers and submits them for independent third-party lab testing. This is done as a monitoring activity to validate ongoing compliance.