Is Lumber Liquidators’ laminated flooring an unnecessary cancer risk? According to a revised CDC report released on Monday, the news isn’t good — and it’s sent Lumber Liquidators’ stock value into yet another downward spiral.
USA Today reports the embattled company and its remaining investors learned that the CDC goofed, accidentally downplaying the cancer risk associated with their laminated flooring.
“The CDC/ATSDR indoor air model used an incorrect value for ceiling height. As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about 3 times lower than they should have been.”
The original report, which went out on February 10, had their cancer risk levels at a “two to nine case per 100,000 people” level. The revised estimate had risk levels adjusted to “6-30 cases per 100,000 people.” The revised cancer risk was enough to send shares down a whopping down 20 percent during early morning Monday trading. For Lumber Liquidators, it’s déjà vu.
Market Watch notes that this substance “is a known carcinogen, causing myeloid leukemia and other cancers at high levels.” Formaldehyde isn’t even safe at lower levels, causing “respiratory issues, and eye, nose, and throat irritation.” It was reported that a Chinese factory responsible for creating Lumber Liquidators’ laminate floors was purposely mislabeling the products to avoid detection.
Although Market Watch reports the company has since cut ties with China, the damage was already been done. This report — and a criminal case about illegally using endangered wood — would provide a severe blow to the reputation of Lumber Liquidators.
In response to the revised CDC cancer risk assessment, Lumber Liquidators released a muted and rather neutral statement.
“We remain committed to operating with integrity and delivering quality flooring to our customers.”
However, with their progress after last year’s PR nightmare all but erased in about a day’s time, it’s hard to believe that Lumber Liquidators isn’t panicking. Their CEO at the time of the previous series of cancer and criminal accusations has resigned. Sales are down. The only way that Lumber Liquidators can possibly overcome its product’s link to heightened cancer risk is to overhaul the very nature of its laminate flooring. There’s no telling exactly how much this would cost, or how long the process would take.
In the meantime, the CDC has no intention of advising Americans to be patient. Instead, the government agency has advised consumers to do everything possible to reduce their exposure to the dangerous carcinogen found in their laminate flooring.
“We strongly stress taking steps to reduce exposures, which should alleviate respiratory and eye, nose and throat irritation. These steps should also reduce the cancer risk.”
The CDC is confident this recommendation will remain unchanged when a final assessment is made. The revision is largely an attempt to correct the earlier report that was itself a gross underestimation of potential cancer risks. Although not necessarily accurate, the CDC is confident that these estimates will be closer to the final results than what was published on February 10.
Even if that estimate is ultimately lower, as the CDC suspects it could be, there’s no getting around the link between Lumber Liquidators and potentially developing cancer if you use their laminated flooring. It’s an image problem that the company may not be able to fight its way back from.
[Photo by AP Photo/Richard Drew]