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Woman's Home Improvement Comes To Halt Over Formaldehyde Flooring

MORRISON, Colo. (CBS4) - An investigation by 60 Minutes found the country's largest seller of hardwood flooring may be using products that don't meet health and safety standards. Some of Lumber Liquidator's cheaper laminate flooring contains high levels of formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing chemical.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, of NY's Mt. Sinai Hospital explained, "It's not a safe level. It's a level that the US EPA calls polluted indoor conditions."

Those laminate floor pieces were being installed into Gerry Smith's home in Morrison, but now her contractor has stopped the job before it's finished due to health and liability concerns.

"We're re-doing all the carpet that was in the home," said contractor John Quinn, and "there's about 1100 square feet of this laminate flooring." It's a project that would ordinarily take three weeks to finish.

laminate flooring, gerry smith's home
Laminate flooring in Gerry Smith's home bought from Lumber Liquidators (credit: CBS)

Smith bought the flooring from lumber liquidators, "cost wise, it was perfect. I got it on sale."

But two weeks in, things are at a standstill because the laminate flooring pieces may be highly toxic.

"My first concern is liability with the homeowner. My liability issue. What am I liable for?" said Quinn.

Using hidden cameras, 60 Minutes investigators went to three Chinese mills that make laminate flooring for Lumber Liquidators.

Employees openly admitted their laminates are not compliant with health and safety standards. Employees also admitted they falsely label boxes, like those now sitting in Smith's living room.

lumber liquidators flooring
Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring (credit: CBS)

Lumber Liquidators founder and chairman Tom Sullivan said he trusts the mills his company uses.

"If there is anything going on, we will stop it immediately. I don't know if it's true or not. I don't know what the whole story is, but we will investigate it immediately," said Sullivan.

Smith is hoping that happens soon, "It's very frustrating because I'm widowed…I don't have the time to wait for a class action lawsuit…what am I going to do?"

In a statement, Lumber Liquidators said 60 Minutes had used an improper test in its report. Lumber Liquidators also said that its suppliers in China confirmed that the product complied with all regulations.

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