The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it would move ahead in regulations aimed to reduce exposure of formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products. Working with the California Air Resources Board, the EPA said it came up with a national solution that is consistent with the California requirements for composite wood products. California is the only state that has issued existing limits on formaldehyde exposure. The new regulations will be applied to wood products produced domestically and imported into the U.S.
According to the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences, formaldehyde is described as, “a colorless, flammable, strong smelling chemical widely used in home building products” and is used in wood products as an adhesive for furniture, flooring, cabinetry, bookcases, and building materials such as plywood and wood panels. Formaldehyde exposure can occur in various professions through air exposure, and it's listed as a human carcinogen based on various scientists studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Formaldehyde can cause asthma and long-term exposure can cause cancers such as myeloid leukemia.
This final rule is an update to 2010’s Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which established standards for formaldehyde from composite wood products until the final rule was finalized.
In a press release, the EPA stated:
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, and particleboard, as well as household and other finished goods containing these products.
By including provisions for laminated products, product testing requirements, labeling, recordkeeping, and import certification, the final rule ensures that hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard products sold, supplied, offered for sale, imported to, or manufactured in the United States are in compliance with the emission standards.
The final rule also establishes a third-party certification program for laboratory testing and oversight of formaldehyde emissions from manufactured and/or imported composite wood products.