Lumber Liquidators stock plunges after CDC report reveals laminate flooring cancer risk

NEW YORK (AP) — Lumber Liquidators' stock plunged Monday as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says people exposed to certain types of the company's laminate flooring were three times more likely to get cancer than the agency previously predicted.

The CDC said that in its original report it had used an incorrect value for ceiling height. It said that resulted in health risks calculated using airborne concentration elements about three times lower than they should have been.

It now estimates the risk of cancer at six to 30 cases per 100,000 people. It previously estimated two to nine cases per 100,000 people.

The agency said that its recommendations will likely stay the same -- that people take steps to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emitted from the Chinese-made flooring.

Formaldehyde was added to the government's list of known carcinogens in 2011. It is a colorless gas with a pungent smell, used among other things to manufacture building materials and household products. It's a common indoor air pollutant. Researchers say the amount of formaldehyde given off by new products ebbs over time.

Lumber Liquidators said in a statement Monday that it has strengthened its "quality assurance procedures," such as testing sample products.

The company stopped selling the Chinese-made laminate floors in May, a few months after CBS news show "60 Minutes" reported that those floors contain high levels of formaldehyde. Lumber Liquidators, based in Toano, Virginia, also began providing customers with free air quality tests.

The CDC says homeowners can reduce the amount of formaldehyde in their homes by letting in fresh air for a few minutes every few days and choosing products with low or no formaldehyde. The health agency said it's not necessary to test homes unless there's a strong chemical smell or someone is having symptoms — burning of the eyes, nose and throat — and only experiencing them in the home.

Earlier this month, it was announced in a separate case that Lumber Liquidators would pay more than $13 million for illegally importing hardwood flooring, after the company pleaded guilty to environmental crimes last year. The company pleaded guilty to environmental crimes in October.

Shares of Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. slid $2.81, or 19.8 percent, to close at $11.40 on Monday. Its shares have fallen more than 83 percent over the past year.

Statement from Lumber Liquidators:

"Despite the errors in CDC's calculation, we note that they do not expect to change their recommendations and we support those recommendations. We also agree with CDC that their revised calculation overestimates any potential health risks from these products, and we are encouraged that CDC is seeking a broader review of their conclusions. Lumber Liquidators has significantly strengthened our quality assurance procedures, from enhanced compliance protocols to product sample testing. In early May of 2015, Lumber Liquidators proactively suspended sales of all laminate flooring sourced from China. Additionally, since March of 2015, Lumber Liquidators has offered customers free independent air quality tests to provide objective scientific information about our products. We remain committed to operating with integrity and delivering quality flooring to our customers."

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