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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

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:
http://bit.ly/1wTt4r8
•       Information on ARB’s composite wood products regulation:
http://bit.ly/1MkNJBr
•       Consumer FAQs: http://bit.ly/1LEkxp1

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