In the wake of the 60 Minutes report on laminate flooring and subsequent fallout for Lumber Liquidators, Chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Elliot Kaye, stated in a recent media call that the Commission is taking a measured approach to evaluating laminate flooring and formaldehyde exposure. While it may be easy to get caught up in the panic over the 60 Minutes report, Chairman Kaye has emphasized that the Commission is approaching this issue with public health and safety in mind – not short sellers.

Chairman Kaye explained that the Commission is focused on determining whether laminate flooring, particularly the flooring manufactured in China at the heart of the controversy, actually poses a substantial product hazard to consumers. Chairman Kaye explained that CPSC is collecting samples to replicate what is currently in the market and in homes. The Commission will then contract with external labs to evaluate the flooring using the ASTM small chamber method, which seeks to recreate real world conditions.

The test method for evaluating these products has been a key point of contention, as the ARB Formaldehyde Airborne Toxic Control Measure requires chamber testing for manufacturer certification, but the Board itself uses destructive testing (taking apart a sample and testing it) for enforcement purposes. Chairman Kaye addressed this, explaining that CPSC is “looking at testing in a method that most closely replicates the way that the products are used in the home. And I totally understand why CARB would require … [destructive] testing, but that’s not what we’re going to be doing.”

Because CPSC is seeking to replicate in-home conditions to perform an exposure assessment, Chairman Kaye expects it will take “months … not weeks” until CPSC has “some sense of the answers” as to whether the laminate flooring in question constitutes a substantial product hazard.