by Brianna Crandall — August 1, 2016 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this past week moved to reduce exposure to formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States. The measures were laid out by Congress to protect the public from harmful exposure of the widely used chemical found in homes and workplaces.
The agency worked with the California Air Resources Board to help ensure the final national rule is consistent with California requirements for composite wood products. According to Jim Jones, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the new rule “will level the playing field for domestic manufacturers who have a high rate of compliance with the California standard and will ensure that imported products not subject to California’s requirements will meet the new standard.”
The Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Act of 2010 established emission standards for formaldehyde from composite wood products and directed EPA to finalize a rule on implementing and enforcing a number of provisions covering composite wood products.
One year after the rule is published, composite wood products that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States will need to be labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant. These products include: hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard as well as household and other finished goods containing these products.
EPA is also setting testing requirements to ensure that products comply with those standards, establishing eligibility requirements for third-party certifiers, and establishing eligibility requirements for accreditation bodies to be recognized by EPA that will accredit the third-party certifiers. The new rule includes certain exemptions for products made with ultra-low formaldehyde or no-added formaldehyde resins and new requirements for product labeling, recordkeeping and enforcement provisions.
Formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in a wide range of wood products, such as some furniture, flooring, cabinets, bookcases and building materials including plywood and wood panels. According to EPA, exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects including eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and cancer.
For more information visit EPA’s Formaldehyde Web page.