Call it a slip-up or a misstep.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its Feb. 10 report about serious respiratory ailments that may result from laminate flooring.
On Monday, the CDC posted a statement to address its flawed information:
Health risks of people who have the laminate flooring are being revised to reflect greater exposure to formaldehyde, which could cause eye, nose, and throat irritation for anyone. The estimated risk of cancer associated with exposure to the flooring increased…The indoor air model used an incorrect value for ceiling height. As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about three times lower than they should have been.
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At room temperature, formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas with a strong odor. The compound is also found in glue, paints and insulation.
The CDC statement doesn’t mention Lumber Liquidators, which sells more than $120 million annually in laminate flooring. The agency said earlier this month that formaldehyde levels in some of the company's laminate products could cause two to nine cancer cases per 100,000 people. The new estimate is six to 30 cases per 100,000 people.
For consumers who may have already purchased the questionable flooring, CDC does offer a link to specific information on another website page.
A PR crisis for Lumber Liquidators
Lumber Liquidators’ spate of bad press began last year when “60 Minutes” first uncovered the story. USA Today reported that in 2015 the company “suspended sales of China-made laminates after accusations of carcinogenic qualities surfaced.” A class-action lawsuit has been filed, stocks have plunged, and the expośe prompted the resignation of CEO Robert Lynch last year.
Standing its ground
Following the release of its new findings, the CDC said: "Our recommendations will likely remain the same. We strongly stress taking steps to reduce exposures, which should alleviate respiratory and eye, nose and throat irritation.”
Meanwhile, the Lumber Liquidators’ website doesn’t show a sign of trouble or how it might be addressing the issue. The site is full of sales promotions on hardwood and laminate floors, and it continues to tout its eco-friendly products:
On Facebook, consumers seem to be skipping past the promotions and asking some tough questions:
In a statement, the company said: “We remain committed to operating with integrity and delivering quality flooring to our customers.”
It may appear to be business as usual at Lumber Liquidators, but not for CEO John Presley. In a letter to employees and stakeholders last week, Presley announced he had been diagnosed with leukemia.
"The good news is that it is a very treatable form of the disease with standard protocols for treatment, and we have caught it very early," he wrote. According to Reuters, Presley will undergo a 30-day treatment near the company’s headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, and expects to stay involved in daily operations.