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Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products

Rule Summary

On December 12, 2016, EPA published in the Federal Register a final rule to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States.

EPA worked with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to help ensure the final national rule is consistent with California’s requirements for composite wood products. 

The Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Act of 2010 established emission standards for formaldehyde from composite wood products and directed EPA to finalize a rule on implementing and enforcing a number of provisions covering composite wood products.

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.

Rule Amendments

Product Labeling Amendment

On July 11, 2017, EPA published a direct final rule that would remove a provision in the formaldehyde final rule that prohibited early labeling of compliant products. The Agency received no adverse comments on the direct final rule or proposed rule, therefore, the direct final rule became effective on August 25, 2017. Read the comments received on this action.

Removal of the prohibition on early labeling will allow regulated entities to voluntarily label compliant products as soon as compliance can be achieved. Read the Federal Register Notice announcing the direct final rule and opening a 15-day comment period.

Compliance Date Amendment

On September 25, 2017, EPA issued a final rule in the Federal Register to extend compliance dates for the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products rule, including extending:

  • The date for the emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions from December 12, 2017 to December 12, 2018;
  • The date for import certification provisions from December 12, 2018 to March 22, 2019;
  • The date for laminated product producer provisions from December 12, 2023 to March 22, 2024; and
  • The conclusion of the transition period for CARB Third-Party Certifiers (TPCs) from December 12, 2018 to March 22, 2019.

Read the final rule extending the compliance dates in the Federal Register.

Voluntary Consensus Standards Amendment

On October 25, 2017, EPA published a proposed rule to update several voluntary consensus standards listed at 40 CFR § 770.99 and incorporated by reference in the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products rule. Read the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

These updates apply to emission testing methods and regulated composite wood product construction characteristics. Several of those voluntary consensus standards (i.e., technical specifications for products or processes developed by standard-setting bodies) were updated, withdrawn, and/or superseded through the normal course of business by these bodies to take into account new information, technology, and methodologies.

Additionally, the proposed rule corrects the rule at 40 CFR § 770.20(d) by allowing the formaldehyde emissions mill quality control test methods to correlate to either the ASTM E1333-14 test method or, upon a showing of equivalence, the ASTM D6007-14 test method. This correlation was inadvertently omitted from the original final rule. The correction aligns the mill quality control testing requirements with the California Air Resources Board standards allowing mill quality control tests to be correlated to the less expensive ASTM D6007-14 test method.

EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule also published on October 25, 2017 after receiving an adverse comment on the action during the public comment period. Read the pre-publication Federal Register withdrawal notice. EPA will proceed with a final rule based on the proposed rule after considering all public comments.

Rule History

On July 7, 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act into law. On June 10, 2013, EPA proposed two regulations:

The two proposed rules were combined for the final rule to consolidate requirements into a single rule to help regulated entities and other interested parties better understand how various requirements are related without having to cross-reference between two separate rules.

Additional Resources

Visit our Resources, Guidance Materials for the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Rule page for additional information about the formaldehyde emission standards rule including factsheets, questions and answers and small entitiy compliance guides.