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Lumber Liquidators pays $2.5 million to settle California clean air claims
Laminate flooring contained composite wood that ARB testing showed exceeded state limits on formaldehyde
SACRAMENTO - Hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators Inc. has paid the California Air Resources Board (ARB) $2.5 million to settle ARB claims that Lumber Liquidators sold, supplied, or offered for sale in California composite wood products that ARB testing showed exceeded state formaldehyde limits, and that Lumber Liquidators failed to take reasonable prudent precautions to ensure those products met such limits designed to protect public health.
During inspections at Lumber Liquidators’ stores in California between September 2013 and May 2015 ARB staff obtained boxes of laminate flooring samples for testing that were labeled as compliant. According to a signed settlement agreement between ARB and Lumber Liquidators, ARB notified the company of its testing showing that some of these samples showed exceedances of state formaldehyde limits and alleging that the company failed to take reasonable prudent precautions to ensure that laminate flooring sold in California contained composite wood products that complied with the formaldehyde emissions standards set forth in California’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) for composite wood products.
“The California Air Resources Board adopted the ATCM to protect the public from toxic exposures to formaldehyde from composite wood products, and we are enforcing this regulation,” ARB Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax said. “Companies need to understand we expect compliance with our rules, and we will hold those accountable who do not comply.”
Formaldehyde, a colorless gas which is a toxic air contaminant, a known human carcinogen and a respiratory irritant, is found in a variety of manufactured products and is a common component of resins used as adhesives to form composite wood products. ARB’s regulation establishes formaldehyde emissions standards on particleboard, medium density fiberboard and hardwood plywood. These composite wood products are commonly used as the underlying platform to which a laminate or wood veneer is affixed during the manufacture of retail products such as furniture, cabinets and flooring.
Under ARB’s regulation, composite wood products must be independently certified as complying with the state standard for formaldehyde. Companies that make finished products are required to label the products as having been made with certified compliant composite wood products, to keep records to verify that they have purchased compliant products, and to inform distributors and retailers that their flooring is compliant with California’s regulations.
Toano, Va.-based Lumber Liquidators cooperated with ARB during the investigation and the subsequent enforcement action. The full payment by Lumber Liquidators of $2.5 million has been deposited into the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California’s air quality.
Additionally, Lumber Liquidators has developed, and agreed to implement, a “Fabricator Laminate Evaluation and Audit Program” and a “Composite Core Testing Research Program,” requiring the company to conduct regular audits of existing and new suppliers and to randomly test composite core samples in accordance with ARB’s standard operating procedure for preparing finished goods samples for testing.
The following links provide more information on ARB’s composite wood products regulation:
- A fact sheet on Flooring Made with Composite Wood Products
- Information on ARB’s composite wood products regulation
- Consumer FAQs
ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.