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Risk of Cancer from Lumber Liquidators Greater than Previously Thought

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the agency’s previous statements and conclusions that exposure to Lumber Liquidators’ products posed a “low” risk of increasing a person’s risk of developing cancer was not correct. A 60 Minutes investigation first uncovered that formaldehyde levels in the company’s laminate floorings (which were manufactured outside the United States) exceeded standard safety limits. (In China, where the laminate flooring was produced, the safety standards are different and allow for higher levels of formaldehyde in products.) About a year after this information came to light, the CDC announced that the levels of formaldehyde did not appear to significantly increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.

Incorrect Calculations Yield Inaccurate Results

The CDC has since revised its initial statement, claiming that a miscalculation in its indoor air formula used to help determine whether a product can increase a person’s risk of cancer led to results that underestimated the risk posed to consumers by Lumber Liquidators’ products. When the miscalculation was corrected, the risk of developing cancer was found to have increased nearly threefold. Whereas the CDC estimated the risk of cancer to consumers from the formaldehyde-heavy products was 2 to 9 cases for every 100,000 people, the CDC now contends the risk is 6 to 30 cases for every 100,000 people.

The Dangers of Formaldehyde Exposure

In addition to the risk of developing cancer, exposure to high levels of formaldehyde has been linked to an increase in eye, nose, and/or throat irritation in otherwise healthy individuals. Formaldehyde exposure can also aggravate existing asthma symptoms. Lumber Liquidators’ product packaging did not appear to include any warnings advising consumers about the higher-than-standard levels of formaldehyde in its laminate products and/or of the dangers associated with formaldehyde exposure.

Warnings are Necessary for Dangerous Products

Manufacturers have a duty imposed upon them by law to advise consumers about non-obvious dangers their products may pose. For example, the manufacturer of a Styrofoam cup used by restaurants to serve hot coffee must provide some warning to consumers that the contents of the cup are likely to be hot and pose a burn hazard to consumers. In the case of Lumber Liquidators, if the company knew or should have known that its laminate flooring products had higher-than-acceptable levels of formaldehyde, then it would be incumbent upon Lumber Liquidators to warn its consumers of this fact and the dangers associated therewith (assuming, of course, it would still be allowed to sell its products in the United States). A simple way to do this is by affixing a printed warning label to the package of laminate flooring.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, has become ill, or has died after using a dangerous product, drug, or medical device, contact the experienced Washington, D.C. law firm of Bertram & Amell. We will use our firm’s knowledge and resources to fight aggressively for compensation on your behalf for your losses and expenses. Contact us today at (888) 991-5245 or contact us through our website for prompt assistance with your case.

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