Monday, February 22, 2016

"60 Minutes" discusses federal government error in formaldehyde/Lumber Liquidators matter

At the end of "60 Minutes" on 21 Feb. 2016, there was mention of a correction made by the CDC to its earlier
report on the amount of formaldehyde being released from certain flooring being sold by Lumber Liquidators. It seems there was an underestimation by about a factor of three in the volume concentration of formaldehyde in the surrounding air.

In a story in Fortune titled Here's Why Shares of Lumber Liquidators Are Crashing, one has text:

The CDC said it had used an incorrect value to calculate ceiling height, which meant its estimates of the airborne concentration of cancer-causing formaldehyde were about three times lower than they should have been.

60 Minutes reported on Sunday it was alerted to the possibility that scientists had not converted feet to meters in some calculations.

If one is calculating a volume (to be reported in cubic meters), and one uses feet instead of meters in one of the three dimensions, one would OVERREPORT the volume. For example, for a volume of 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 one foot, the volume would be reported as 1 cubic meter, if one failed to convert the 1 foot to the proper distance in meters. The correct volume would be 1 by 1 by 12/39.37, or 0.30 cubic meters. The erroneous volume of 1 cubic meter would be about three times higher than the true volume of 0.30. In a concentration measurement of formaldehyde per volume, the true divisor (volume) would be about three times smaller, and the concentration about three times higher.


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