The federal court in Oakland, California, held a hearing Friday, January 26 considering EPA’s delay in implementing the EPA rule requiring the standard and testing of formaldehyde in composite wood products. The litigation, brought by the Sierra Club and a Louisiana public interest group, challenges the Trump EPA’s efforts to delay the compliance dates of these Obama-era rules. The legal issue is whether the statute, the Formaldehyde Standards in Composite Wood Products Act, enacted by Congress in 2010, gives EPA the authority to delay the rule’s implementation.
The important issue for funeral directors is what the court will say about the health hazards associated with exposure to formaldehyde and whether the court’s finding may set a precedent for formaldehyde in other contexts. The environmental groups’ brief states: “Formaldehyde has long been classified as a known human carcinogen of the upper respiratory tract and more recently as a cause of leukemia. It causes eyes, nose, and throat irritation even from exposure of relatively short durations....”
In signing the rule, EPA issued a press release that stated: “We are carrying out important measures laid out by Congress to protect the public from harmful exposures of this widely used chemical found in homes and workplaces....” EPA characterized the rule as ensuring that imported products will not contain “dangerous formaldehyde vapors.” This issue arose initially when families displaced by Hurricane Katrina were housed in FEMA trailers and exposed to high levels of formaldehyde.
NFDA will keep you informed of developments in this matter.