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EPA Proposes to Implement Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products

Monday, June 03, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced two proposed rules designed to ensure that imported or domestically produced composite wood products meet the formaldehyde emission standards established by Congress in 2010. These standards are identical to those currently in place under the California Air Resources Board’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure, and the EPA states that most manufacturers are already following these standards so that they are able to sell in any U.S. state.

The EPA's first proposal limits how much formaldehyde may be emitted from hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished goods that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured or imported in the U.S. The emitted formaldehyde may be left over from the resin or composite wood making process or be released when the resin degrades in the presence of heat and humidity. This proposal includes testing requirements, laminated product provisions, product labeling requirements, chain of custody documentation, recordkeeping, a stockpiling prohibition, and enforcement provisions. It also contains an exemption from some testing and recordkeeping requirements for products made with no-added formaldehyde resins.

The second proposal establishes a framework under which third-party certifiers would audit composite wood panel producers and verify their products’ compliance with the formaldehyde emissions standards. The EPA states that this certification program will “level the playing field” by ensuring that composite wood products sold in the U.S. meet the emission standards in the rule regardless of whether they were made in the U.S. or elsewhere.

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