Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took concrete steps to reduce exposure to formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States. This is further evidence that the EPA takes the health risks posed by formaldehyde seriously and will take steps to regulate its use to protect the public.
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, particleboard as well as household and other finished goods containing these products.
Formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in a wide range of wood products, such as some furniture, flooring, cabinets, bookcases and building materials including plywood and wood panels. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects including eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and cancer.
More information about this new rule can be found on the EPA website.
NFDA recently shared news about the recently passed Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law on June 22. This new law pushes up the deadline by which the EPA must evaluate the risk of hazardous chemicals in products on the market, like formaldehyde. If the EPA determines a chemical is unsafe, the agency must impose restrictions. EPA’s toolbox of restrictions includes banning the chemical, phasing it out, imposing limits on its use, or requiring warnings and specific instructions. Virtually every EPA decision will be subject to public review and comment.
NFDA will continue to keep you informed of developments on the regulation of formaldehyde.