The goal of the standard is to help protect the public from harmful emissions
On December 12th the Environmental Protection Agency published the final standards, for products containing composite wood (hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard), limiting their emissions of formaldehyde. These products are often found in flooring, furniture, and cabinets. Other countries have been regulating these products for years.
Jackson Morrill, president of an industry trade group, the Composite Panel Association said, “EPA has set in place for the whole country the world’s most stringent standard for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products.” He went on to say, “To be successful, EPA must now develop world-class enforcement practices that ensure these standards are met by all composite wood products sold in this country, whether made here in the U.S. or abroad.”
This added Title VI to the Toxic Substances Control Act and effects goods made domestically or abroad, seeking to reduce the exposure to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is known to cause eye, nose, and throat irritation but worse yet; increased exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to respiratory problems as well as some types of cancer. This rule has no significant changes from its prepublication draft that was issued in July of 2016.
The formaldehyde emissions standards that will take effect on February 10th, 2017, are as follows:
- Hardwood Plywood: .05 ppm
- Particleboard: .09 ppm
- Medium-Density Fiberboard: .11 ppm
- Thin Medium-Density Fiberboard: .13 ppm
These limits are based upon requirements adopted by California’s Air Resources Board back in 2008. Composite wood manufacturers will have a year to comply with these new limits. A third-party certification program is set up by the rule to evaluate compliance. The rule also requires communication throughout the supply chain and limits emissions from some laminated products as well.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that had destroyed thousands of Gulf Coast homes in 2005, highlighted the potential health risks from formaldehyde. The quickly constructed trailers set up for displaced families were tested after residents began reporting respiratory problems as well as eye irritation. Air testing was done and indicated that high levels of formaldehyde fumes had been leaking from the wood in these emergency shelters.