August 21, 2013 -- EPA extended the public comment periods for two proposed regulations that implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, or Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Both proposed rules initially published on June 10, 2013.
- The first notice extends the comment period for the Formaldehyde; Third-Party Certification Framework for the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products proposal from August 26, 2013 to September 25, 2013
- The second notice extends the comment period for the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products proposal from September 9, 2013 to October 9, 2013
May 29, 2013 -- EPA proposed two rules to protect the public from the risks associated with exposure to formaldehyde.
The proposals would implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act ( Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act):
- Proposal to implement the Actís emission standards
- Proposal to establish the framework for a third-party certification program to ensure products meet the TSCA formaldehyde emission standards
On this page:
- An Introduction to Formaldehyde
- Proposed Rules to Implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (TSCA Title VI)
- First Proposed Rule: Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act Implementing Regulation
- Second Proposed Rule: Third-Party Certification Framework
- Background on the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (TSCA Title VI)
- Other Resources
An Introduction to Formaldehyde
At room temperature, formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas that has a distinct, pungent smell. Small amounts of formaldehyde are naturally produced by plants, animals, and humans.
Formaldehyde is used widely by industry to manufacture a range of building materials and numerous household products. It is in resins used to manufacture some composite wood products (e.g., hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard). Everyone is exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde in the air, some foods, and products, including composite wood products. The primary way you can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing air containing it. Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers.
Proposed Rules to Implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (TSCA Title VI)
The EPA proposed two rules aimed at protecting the public from the risks associated with exposure to formaldehyde. The first proposal would implement formaldehyde emission standards under TSCA Title VI, and would apply to hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and finished goods containing these products that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, or manufactured (including imported) in the United States.
The second proposal would establish a framework for a third-party certification program to ensure that composite wood panel producers comply with the formaldehyde emission limits established under TSCA Title VI.
These rules will protect people against the risks posed by formaldehyde emitted from composite wood products. These rules will also put in place one national set of standards for companies that manufacture or import these products and ensure the same protections for all Americans.
This rule also includes implementing provisions for:
First Proposed Rule: Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act Implementing Regulation
As required by the law, the first proposal sets limits on how much formaldehyde may be released from composite wood products, including hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished goods containing these products, that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States. It also includes protective yet common sense exemptions from some testing and recordkeeping requirements for products made with no-added formaldehyde resins. This proposal includes additional implementing provisions for:
- Laminated products
- Testing requirements
- Product labeling
- Chain of custody documentation, and other recordkeeping requirements
- Product inventory sell-through provisions, including a product stockpiling prohibition
Second Proposed Rule: Third-Party Certification Framework
The law also requires the establishment of a third-party certification program to ensure that composite wood panel producers comply with the established emission limits. Under the proposed framework, third-party certifiers (TPCs) would be required to apply to EPA-recognized accreditation bodies who would verify the certifiers' ability to ensure that panel producers comply with the formaldehyde emission standards. Under this rule, TPCs would audit composite wood panel producers and verify compliance with the formaldehyde emission standards.
TPCs would be responsible for activities such as:
- Regularly auditing composite wood panel producers
- Conducting and verifying formaldehyde emissions tests
- Ensuring that panel producers' quality assurance/quality control procedures and testing complies with the TSCA Title VI implementing regulations
Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (TSCA Title VI)
On July 7, 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite-Wood Products Act into law. This legislation, which adds a Title VI to TSCA, establishes limits for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products: hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard. The national emission standards in the Act mirror standards previously established by the California Air Resources Board for products sold, offered for sale, supplied, used or manufactured for sale in California.
Congress directed the EPA to promulgate final regulations implementing the Act by January 1, 2013. These regulations will address the following topics, among others:
- Chain of custody requirements
- Sell-through provisions (including a prohibition on stockpiling)
- Ultra low-emitting formaldehyde resins
- No-added formaldehyde-based resins
- Finished goods
- Third-party testing and certification
- Auditing and reporting of third-party certifiers
- Laminated products
- Exceptions from regulatory requirements for products and components containing de minimis amounts of composite wood products
Citizens' Petition Requesting Adoption of National Regulation
In March 2008, the EPA received a TSCA Section 21 citizens' petition (PDF) (106 pp, 4.44MB, About PDF), which requested that the EPA adopt nationally a California regulation to control formaldehyde emissions from pressed wood products.
The EPA carefully reviewed the citizens' petition, submitted by the Sierra Club, a number of other environmental organizations, as well as a large number of private citizens, and sought comment and additional information on the petition. Read the EPA's letter to the petitioners (PDF) (1 pp, 84KB, About PDF) and the response to the petition in the Federal Register.
On December 3, 2008, the EPA published in the Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) that described the EPA's initial steps to investigate potential actions to protect against risks posed by formaldehyde emitted from pressed wood products used in manufactured homes and other places. It also requested comment, information and data relating to formaldehyde emissions from pressed wood products. The agency held six public meetings with stakeholders in 2009 to solicit additional input on the formaldehyde ANPR.