Formaldehyde Flooring Put COPD Patients at Higher Risk than Thought

Patients with COPD and other breathing disorders are at far higher risk of formaldehyde exposure from faulty laminated flooring than thought. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it made a major math error in calculating that risk in an earlier report.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who have been exposed to toxic fumes from certain types of laminate floorboard are at higher risk of aggravating their disease than thought.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have corrected a Feb. 10 report saying they drastically underestimated levels of formaldehyde given off by laminate flooring in a typical house. In the revised report the agencies said they had made math errors in their calculations of formaldehyde exposure.

The new estimates show respiratory symptoms will be far more prevalent in COPD and asthma sufferers than originally reported while cancer risks are almost tripled.

The original report entitled “Possible Health Implications from Exposure to Formaldehyde Emitted from Laminate Flooring Samples Tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission” has since been taken down from the CDC website.

The CDC had analyzed data from an investigation by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CSPC) of inexpensive floorboard with undisclosed high levels of formaldehyde manufactured at Lumber Liquidator factories in China.

Formaldehyde is listed a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Research shows inhalation exposure is linked to cancers of the nasopharynx, nasal sinuses, and leukemia. It has specifically been linked to myeloid leukemia in embalmers and medical professionals.

The erroneous calculations came to light when producers at the television show 60 Minutes got a tip that the CDC report needed a closer look.

The program’s Andersen Cooper in a Feb. 21 video update said the program had sent the report to scientists at several universities “and discovered the government forgot to convert feet to meters--that error means all the predicted formaldehyde levels are 3.3 times higher than government scientists calculated, which can amount to more than 18 times higher levels of formaldehyde than those in a normal home and triple the cancer risks to a level that’s considered unacceptable by national and international health agencies.”

The flooring company’s website now offers free home formaldehyde test kits to customers who may have purchased the tainted wood before it was discontinued in May.