There is a new report out Tuesday from the CDC National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is an update of a report issued on February 10, 2016. Alex Alexiev wrote about this error in a microBEnet post: CDC Error in Flooring Report. For more on the corrected report see:
- CNN: Danger of some laminate wood flooring was underestimated, report says
- CDC Statement about the corrected report.
Some key parts of the CDC statement:
“On February 12, CDC/ATSDR was notified that a private individual who reviewed the report suspected that a conversion error might have been made. CDC/ATSDR staff reviewed the report and discovered that an incorrect value for ceiling height was used in the indoor air model. As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about 3 times lower than they should have been. Neither CDC/ATSDR nor the report’s peer or partner reviewers or reviewers noticed the error.“
It seems like they are trying to say “it is not really our fault – our peer and partner reviewers missed this too.” I am not so impressed with this. No apology. No comment about how this was missed. Better than not correcting the error, certainly, but close to a “sorry – not sorry” kind of statement.
This lack of any apology is a bit troubling since they do in fact conclude that this new value leads to new conclusions in regard to short term health and long term health.
They do state that “our recommendations remain the same” in regard to the flooring and specifically:
we continue to recommend that people with the affected laminate flooring:
Reduce exposure – We provide information on how residents can reduce exposure to sources of formaldehyde in their homes
See a doctor for ongoing health symptoms — We recommend that residents who have followed the steps to reduce formaldehyde in their homes and still have ongoing health symptoms (breathing problems or irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat) only in their homes, should see a doctor to find out what is causing the symptoms.
Consider professional air testing if irritation continues.
They then go on to say a bit about what they did both to make sure the new revised report is accurate:
To ensure the accuracy of the revised report, CDC/ATSDR spent five weeks taking these steps:
Updating the model parameters and re-running the indoor air model
Double-checking the model against other air models
Conducting a quality review of the revised results
Re-evaluating the possible health implications
Requesting peer review of the revised report by outside experts and experts from CPSC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Addressing these peer reviewers’ comments
Revising communication materials to ensure affected people understand the new results.
It would be nice to know a bit more about these steps. It would also be useful to know a bit more about why everyone involved missed the mistake earlier and how the mistake was made in the first place. But … I guess this is good that they corrected the mistake relatively quickly and that they listened to this “private individual” (though I am not quite sure what that description means).