At the end of Sunday's 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper updated his Lumber Liquidators story. In a report earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had mistakenly forgotten to convert feet to meters when measuring predicted formaldehyde levels of the company's Chinese-made laminate flooring.
60 Minutes broke the news both to viewers and to the CDC, explaining that levels in the CDC report should have been 3.3 times higher than what the agency reported. Some viewers were dumbfounded:
Wait. What? Govt "scientists" FORGOT to convert feet into meters? yhtbfkm My 6th grader would have remembered to do that. Boobs #60Minutes— joejustjoe (@joejustjoe) February 22, 2016
Another example of why we need 1) a strong, independent press and 2) to transition to the metric system https://t.co/LKtg28L7Ul— Charlie Hale (@charliemhale) February 22, 2016
As Cooper reported, that error means there's more than triple the cancer risk than CDC's report originally stated. Not surprisingly, viewers expressed their concern for their homes and families:
Others expressed concern about the financial burden of removing the flooring:
So what to do? Well, here's what we know: Currently, there are more than 100 class action lawsuits that have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation against Lumber Liquidators, but the company hasn't offered to reimburse customers or remove the flooring.
Consumers who look for answers on the CDC's website will find recommendations to reduce exposure to formaldehyde, which include everything from opening windows and installing air filters to this: "Maintaining temperature and humidity levels at the lowest comfortable setting to reduce off-gassing of formaldehyde."
The CDC offered no definition of "comfortable."
As for the most pressing question -- whether to remove the flooring immediately -- the CDC has said it depends on how long ago the floors were installed. Other factors that can affect formaldehyde emissions exposure include how much of the flooring is in your home, whether you live in a new home or an older home, and whether you live in a warm or cold climate.
60 Minutes producer Katherine Davis says the CDC is working to correct its report on Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators. Consumers should look for revised recommendations from the agency in a new report, which this time will be based on accurate measurement conversions. That report is likely to be released in the next few weeks.