Hardwood floors are one of the most coveted luxuries one can have in his or her home. No other flooring surface is quite as elegant, versatile and reliable as a hardwood floor can be. It’s no surprise that more than half — about 54% — of home buyers say they’re willing to spend a little more to get a hardwood floor in their home.
But what if your brand new hardwood floor is secretly making you sick?
Sadly, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Some hardwood floors are produced with high levels of formaldehyde, which can be released into the air over time. Inhaling this toxin has been linked with health conditions like nose and throat cancer, difficulty breathing, coughing, sore throat and impaired respiratory function.
For one Colorado Springs, CO, couple, this nightmare became reality when their $6,000 hardwood floor gave them both respiratory illnesses, forcing them to rip out their beloved floor.
According to a June 10 KOAA article, Susan Bolduc and her husband are now involved in a class action lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators, the company that sold the Bolducs their formaldehyde-soaked floor. Lumber Liquidators is accused of selling hardwood floors manufactured in China that contained levels of formaldehyde that exceeded the EPA’s recommended level of .10 parts per million.
In fact, when Bolduc hired an independent inspection company to inspect her hardwood floors, the inspector found formaldehyde levels three to five times what the EPA recommends, even though Lumber Liquidators assured the couple that their floors were safe.
“I believe there are hundreds or thousands of people receiving letters from Lumber Liquidators saying their flooring is safe and if that’s not accurate people need to know,” she said.
To avoid unknowingly installing a formaldehyde-filled hardwood floor, Bill Magavern, policy director at the Coalition for Clean Air, recommends that homeowners steer clear of composite wood products like medium-density fiberboard, particle fiberboard and hardwood plywood. Because China seems to be the only source of this illegal flooring, it’s best to avoid floors made in this country, as well.