Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products

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Proposed Rules to Implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act 

There are currently no national standards in place for formaldehyde in composite wood products. However, EPA is in the process of finalizing rules that will set limits on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products such as hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States. 

Congress tasked EPA with developing regulations to implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, or Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). On June 10, 2013, EPA proposed two regulations:  

  • The first 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. We refer to this proposed regulation as the Third-Party Certification Program Framework Rule.
  • The second proposal would implement formaldehyde emission standards under Title VI of TSCA 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. We refer to this regulation as the Implementation Rule.

In an ongoing effort to reach out to potentially affected stakeholders, EPA met and continues to meet with companies and trade associations that represent, among other members, producers of laminated products. As part of this effort, EPA specifically requested data on formaldehyde emissions from laminated products, as well as comments and information on the proposed definition of laminated products. The comment period for these proposed rules is now closed and EPA anticipates publishing a combined final rule by the end of 2015. 

Third-Party Certification Program Framework Rule 

The proposed rule would establish a third-party certification program to ensure that composite wood panel producers comply with the established formaldehyde 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 including:
 
  • 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

Federal Register notice for the proposed Third-Party Certification Program Framework Rule

Regulatory Development and Retrospective Review Tracker- This site provides a summary of milestones reached as part of the Third-Party Certification Program Framework rulemaking process. 

Implementation Rule

The proposed rule would set limits on how much formaldehyde may be released from composite wood products, including hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States. It would require that composite wood panel producers monitor formaldehyde emissions from their composite wood products and that a third-party certifier verifies that the formaldehyde emission standards are being met. It would also include exemptions from some testing and recordkeeping requirements for products made with ultra low-emitting and no-added formaldehyde resins. The proposal includes additional implementing provisions for:

  • Laminated products
  • Testing requirements
  • Product labeling
  • Chain of custody documentation, and other recordkeeping requirements
  • Enforcement
  • Product inventory sell-through provisions, including a product stockpiling prohibition

Federal Register Notice for the proposed implementation rule

Regulatory Development and Retrospective Review Tracker- This site provides a summary of milestones reached as part of the Formaldehyde Implementation rulemaking process. 

Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act 

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 the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), establishes limits for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products: hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard. The national emission standards in the law mirror standards previously established by the California Air Resources Board for products sold, offered for sale, supplied, used or manufactured for sale in California.

Read the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (PDF)(9 pp, 141 K, About PDF).

Background: Citizens' Petition Requesting National Regulation

Prior to the passage of the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, in March 2008, the EPA received a TSCA Section 21 citizens' petition (PDF)(106 pp, 4.4 M, About PDF), which requested that the EPA adopt nationally a California regulation to control formaldehyde emissions from composite 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, 84 K, 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 that described the EPA's initial steps to investigate potential actions to protect against risks posed by formaldehyde emitted from composite wood products used in manufactured homes and other places. It also requested comment, information and data relating to formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. The agency held six public meetings with stakeholders in 2009 to solicit additional input on the formaldehyde ANPR. In 2010, the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act was signed into law, prompting EPA to publish two proposed regulations.

Read the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR)

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