Lumber Liquidators agrees to sell safe vinyl flooring, group says

The major flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators has agreed to sell vinyl flooring that’s made without reprocessed plastic, a chemical reform advocacy group announced Tuesday.


Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families said Lumber Liquidators has made a commitment to adopt new standards that require its suppliers of vinyl flooring to end all use of reprocessed vinyl plastic in vinyl flooring and limit lead in flooring to less than 100 parts per million.


The group, which has launched a Mind the Store Campaign to encourage major U.S. retailers to adopt policies that identify, restrict and safely substitute hazardous chemicals in common consumer products, said testing has shown that vinyl plastic is often contaminated with lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, phthalates and other toxic chemicals.

“We are encouraged by Lumber Liquidators’ decision to sell vinyl flooring made without reprocessed plastic,” Mike Schade, the group’s campaign director, said in a news release. “This is a positive step and we hope other major flooring and home improvement retailers will join Lumber Liquidators in eliminating this unnecessary plastic.”

In September, Lumber Liquidators required its suppliers to eliminate the use of ortho-phthalates in all vinyl flooring. It also agreed to regularly commission independent laboratory testing to monitor compliance with these policies.   

“Lumber Liquidators is committed to setting the highest standards for the sourcing of flooring products,” Jill Witter, the store's chief compliance and legal officer, said in the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’s release. “We are pleased to work with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families on this initiative, as part of our ongoing efforts to lead the industry forward with responsible sourcing practices.”

The store made headlines in March after CBS's “60 Minutes” reported that it found unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, in the laminate wood flooring it was importing from China and again last month after the company pled guilty to illegally importing wood harvested from the world’s last wild Siberian tiger and Amur leopard habitat in Russia.

In a plea deal with the Department of Justice, the strore agreed to pay $13.15 million, including $7.8 million in criminal fines, $969,175 in criminal forfeiture and more than $1.23 million in community service payments.