On July 27, 2016, the USEPA released a prepublication version of its final rule on Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products. This is important as the USEPA has classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen and many buildings looking to meet green standards take care to minimize indoor formaldehyde emissions. The authority for the rule comes from the TSCA. The USEPA’s rule relies heavily on the formaldehyde emissions rules set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The federal standards are identical to those set by CARB.
Formaldehyde emission standards
Hardwood plywood (with a veneer core or composite core) = 0.05 ppm
Particleboard = 0.09 ppm
Medium-density fireboard (MDF) = 0.11 ppm
Thin MDF = 0.13 ppm
When it goes into effect, this rule will affect manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of products containing composite wood as listed above.
The USEPA’s final rule goes into effect one year after its publication in the Federal Register. At that point, fabricators, importers, distributors, and retailers of finished goods containing composite wood must begin to comply with new recordkeeping and labeling requirements. The final rule contains detailed requirements for recordkeeping, labeling, and testing of both composite wood and products containing composite wood.
Record-keeping and labeling. Fabricators, importers, distributors, and retailers of composite wood or products containing it will be required to “take reasonable precautions” to ensure their products comply with the emissions standards, defined as preparing or obtaining appropriate documentation, such as bills of lading or invoices, from suppliers of composite wood products that includes a written statement that the products are either compliant with the emissions standards or were produced prior to the rule taking effect. Companies must retain this documentation for at least 3 years.
In addition, importers must provide records (within 30 days of a request by the USEPA) identifying either the composite wood panel producer and date the composite wood products were produced or the supplier of the composite wood products (if different than the producer), component parts, or finished goods and the date of purchase.
Manufacturers of subject products must label each bundle containing finished goods with manufacturer’s name, date produced, and a statement that the material complies with the emission standard. Importers, distributors, and retailers must keep the label on each bundle and make information available to potential customers if requested.
Importer Certification. 2 years after final rule publication, importers will be required to certify that imported composite wood or products containing it comply with the standard.
Testing requirements. Beginning 7 years after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, manufacturers of laminated products will be required to comply with third-party testing and certification requirements that apply to manufacturers of hardwood plywood panels. “Laminated products” are defined to include only those products with a wood or woody grass veneer, so testing requirements will not apply to synthetic laminates such as plastic or vinyl. The rule does contain certain exemptions for certain laminated products and for use of ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (“ULEF”) resins.
CCES can provide you with technical assistance to help you assess compliance with this and other environmental rules, and to perform a green building analysis. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.