EPA Rule to Reduce Exposure to Formaldehyde Vapors from Composite Wood Products

Published August 3, 2016

​Last week, EPA finalized a new rule intended to reduce the public’s exposure to formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the U.S. The new rule implements the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act of 2010, which added Title VI to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and established limits for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products that are sold, manufactured, or imported into the U.S. One year from the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register, composite wood products such as hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard will need to be labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant. According to EPA’s press release, the agency worked with the California Air Resources Board to ensure that its final rule is consistent with California’s requirements for composite wood products.

“The new rule will level the playing field for domestic manufacturers who have a high rate of compliance with the California standard and will ensure that imported products not subject to California’s requirements will meet the new standard and thus not contain dangerous formaldehyde vapors,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

EPA’s new rule also sets testing requirements to ensure that products comply with TSCA Title VI standards and establishes a third-party certification program to ensure that composite wood panel producers comply with the new emissions limits. Also included in the rule are procedures for the accreditation of third-party certifiers; general requirements for accreditation bodies and third-party certifiers; and new requirements for product labeling, recordkeeping, and enforcement provisions.

For more information or to read the full text of the rule, see EPA’s website.

Related: In response to growing concern regarding exposure to formaldehyde in laminate wood flooring and other products found in homes, AIHA launched a Formaldehyde Resource Center in April 2015. The resource center serves as a hub of information on formaldehyde, including frequently asked questions and tips on finding industrial hygienists to conduct sampling, arrange for proper testing, and develop approaches to reduce risks from formaldehyde exposure.

Additional resources include educational materials developed by AIHA’s Indoor Environmental Quality Committee Task Force: technical guidance on laminate flooring outgassing and a fact sheet for consumers who are concerned about formaldehyde emissions from laminate flooring in their homes.