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Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Still in the Works

Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Environmental Protection Agency has reopened through May 8 the comment period for a proposed rule designed to ensure that imported or domestically produced composite wood products meet the formaldehyde emission standards established by Congress in 2010. The EPA will also hold a meeting on this issue April 28 in Washington, D.C.

The proposed rule would limit 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 EPA has said that the proposed standards are identical to those currently in place under the California Air Resources Board’s Airborne Toxics Control Measure and that most manufacturers are already following these standards so that they are able to sell in any U.S. state.

The EPA is now seeking additional public input related to laminated products, particularly its consideration of one or a combination of the following: (1) CARB’s latest proposal to modify its Airborne Toxics Control Measure, (2) a reduced testing program for laminated products, (3) a self-certification program for laminated products, (4) an exemption of laminated products from the definition of hardwood plywood, or (5) an exemption from testing and certification requirements for all laminated products or just those made by low-volume producers (including what an appropriate production volume might be). The EPA is also considering whether third-party certification should be required for laminated products if emission testing for these products is required; what emission standard, if any, would be appropriate for laminated products; and whether laminated products should be grouped for testing purposes. Further, the EPA is requesting comment on associated definitional changes, including those in CARB’s latest proposal, and other potential changes to the definition of “laminated product,” such as expanding the eligible platforms to cover the cores identified in the definition of hardwood plywood.

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