Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products
ON THIS PAGE…
On December 12, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to implement the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which added Title VI to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The purpose of this rule is to reduce consumer and worker exposure to formaldehyde from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States.
The formaldehyde emission standard can be read in its entirety in the Federal Register.
The Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Act was passed in 2010, but it took the EPA six years to finalize the implementation details. The emission standards in the Act mirror those established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and implemented in two phases in 2010 and 2012 for products sold in the state of California.
Since that time, the EPA has been working with CARB to ensure the federal rule would be consistent with California’s requirements for composite wood products.
The federal rule applies to hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard and particleboard, as well as household products containing these components. Although the EPA is working to extend the compliance dates in the final rule, the current deadline for producing and labeling compliant products as TSCA Title VI compliant is December 12, 2017, which is one year after the rule was published.
The rule includes provisions for laminated products, as well as product testing requirements, labeling guidelines, recordkeeping requirements and rules for import certification.
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.
Product Labeling Amendment
On July 11, 2017, EPA published a direct final rule that removes a provision in the formaldehyde final rule prohibiting early labeling of compliant products. Removal of this provision allows regulated entities to voluntarily label compliant products as soon as compliance can be achieved.
A 15-day comment period on this direct final rule ended July 26. Having received no adverse comments, it was expected to become effective in late August.
Compliance Date Amendment
The EPA is working to extend the compliance dates in the formaldehyde final rule. On May 24, 2017, the agency published a proposed rule to extend the following compliance dates:
• The date for the emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions from December 12, 2017 to March 22, 2018;
• The date for import certification provisions from December 12, 2018 to March 22, 2019;
• The conclusion of the transition period for CARB Third-Party Certifiers (TPCs) from December 12, 2018 to March 22, 2019; and
• The date for laminated product producer provisions from December 12, 2023 to March 22, 2024.
However, the agency was forced to withdraw this proposed direct final rule because several adverse comments were received during the 15-day public comment period.
As a result, the original compliance dates published in the December 12, 2016 final rule remain in effect until another final agency action is taken. The agency is proceeding with a longer, formal rulemaking process to amend the compliance timeline. Barring any additional delays, this process could be completed and the timeline officially adjusted early this fall.
From the time the formaldehyde standard was signed into law by President Obama in July 2010 to the EPA’s final implementation of the rule in December 2016, AHFA has been integrally involved in every defining action. AHFA met with federal officials in Washington, hosted them on tours of member company plants, invited them to speak at AHFA-sponsored events and conferred with them regularly on all details that impact residential furniture manufacturers.
A first draft of the implementation rule was released in 2013, stunning the furniture industry with its proposal to lump furniture manufacturers in with composite board manufacturers and requiring onerous product testing. AHFA estimated that a typical nightstand containing composite wood panels and offered in three finishes would incur $5,400 in testing costs to comply with the new rule. The financial burden of testing would likely have bankrupt many home furnishings companies.
AHFA joined forces with a broad coalition of industry stakeholders and successfully advocated critical changes to key provisions in the implementation rule.
In the final rule, laminated products made with synthetic face veneers, oriented strand board, curved plywood and structural plywood are exempt.
A narrowly defined group of laminated products – those with wood or woody grass veneers – have until December 12, 2018 to comply with the EPA emission limits for core panel, which are the same as those established by CARB. Testing and certification requirements for these products kick in at the end of seven years – December 2023 – unless manufacturers switch to a no-added-formaldehyde or PF resin.
Read the formaldehyde emission standards final rule in the Federal Register (40 CFR Part 770).
EPA Fact Sheet on the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Rule.
Power Point Presentations from AHFA’s January 18-19, 2017 Joint Industry Workshop on the EPA Formaldehye Rule:
Overview of the EPA Formaldehyde Rule
Erik Winchester, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
Harmonization of the CARB ATCM with the EPA Formaldehyde Rule
Lynn Baker, Air Pollution Specialist, California Air Resources Board
Best Practices for Filing the Import Declaration
Mark Duvall, Beveridge & Diamond
Domestic Panel Third-Party Certification Program
Jackson Morrill, President, Composite Panel Association
Supply Chain Management for Composite Wood Products
Brian Kneibel, General Manager-Furnishings, Intertek
Pratik Ichhaporia PhD, Director of Technical Services, Intertek
Best Practices for Document Retrieval/Section 770.3 Labeling
Michael Sullivan and Christa Burger, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
The following three checklists were first distributed by Womble Carlyle at AHFA’s January 2017 Joint Industry Workshop on the EPA Formaldehyde Rule. Entities throughout the home furnishings supply chain will find them useful.
✓ Document Retention and Labeling Compliance Checklist for Fabricators (other than Laminated Product Producers)