Lawmakers want answers after "60 Minutes" report on Lumber Liquidators

The "60 Minutes" report that found high levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde in flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators brought a call on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a federal investigation.

Understandably, homeowners whose families walk on that flooring every day want to know what they should do.

In Las Vegas, environmental consultant Steve Havens used formaldehyde monitors in a home with newly installed Lumber Liquidators flooring manufactured in China. The test will cost about $600. Homeowner Noah Bennett said it's worth it.

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Laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators is installed in a home under construction Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
CBS News

"If it's not safe, we'll be ripping it out of the house and seeking whatever action that Lumber Liquidators can help us with replacing the flooring," Bennett said.

Bennett ordered the monitoring after watching Sunday's "60 Minutes" investigation of Chinese-made laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators.

Formaldehyde is in the glues used to bind wood particles together to make the core boards in laminate flooring.

Tests performed for "60 Minutes" found levels of formaldehyde in Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring from China well above those permitted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Overexposure to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, can cause a range of symptoms, according to CARB's Stanley Young.

"If a consumer does feel some of these symptoms, like wheezing, or running eyes, weeping eyes, if they're coughing or if they feel some kind of breathing problem, then it may be related to formaldehyde," Young said.

Denny Larson of Global Community Monitor is involved in a class action suit against Lumber Liquidators. He's received more than a thousand calls in just three days from consumers seeking advice.

"I would suggest that perhaps the room be closed off," Larson said. "Seal the door up, open the window and let it ventilate, but try not to go in there."

Right now, there are no easy answers for consumers. Home testing kits are unreliable, so the best advice is to call an environmental engineer.

In a statement, Lumber Liquidators said over the last few years, it has been "actively engaged with the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency."

The company, which had sales in 2014 of more than $1 billion, also said, "We are committed to safety and will continue to deliver the best quality product at the best price to our customers."

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.