US proposes new formaldehyde limits for wood products

29 May 2013 21:37  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US environmental officials on Wednesday proposed new nationwide restrictions on formaldehyde emissions from wood products, a move generally welcomed by industry as a step toward a single, country-wide standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it was proposing two new rules to limit and certify formaldehyde emissions levels in such wood products as plywood, fibreboard, particleboard and finished goods such as cabinetry and furniture.

The proposed rules would implement federal standards established by legislation approved by Congress in 2010.

The first rule largely duplicates on a national level the formaldehyde restrictions already in place in California for wood products and, the EPA said, will “put in place national standards for companies that manufacturer or import these products”.

The agency noted that “Most manufacturers are already following requirements for composite wood products already in place in California so that they are able to sell in any state.”

“The EPA proposals provide one national standard, thus preventing a patchwork of different state requirements and providing a level playing-field between states and between companies and importers,” the agency said.

The second proposed rule would establish a third-party certification process to ensure that composite wood manufacturers or importers meet the new formaldehyde emissions limits.

Under this rule, eligibility requirements and responsibilities would be established for accredited third-party firms that inspect and certify manufactured goods.

The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) formaldehyde panel said that it supports “regulatory goals that are consistent with our commitment to the continued safe use of this important chemistry”.

A spokeswoman for the panel said that support “includes national implementation of a standard to help level the playing field, while recognising that formaldehyde is a necessary ingredient in thousands of essential materials”.

EPA said that when implemented, its new formaldehyde limits for wood products would reduce emissions levels in new or renovated homes by up to 25%.

The proposed formaldehyde rules are open to public comment for 60 days, and a final rule is likely in the first quarter of 2014.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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