New EPA Formaldehyde Standard Adopted from CARB
Formaldahyde can be as harmful as it is helpful. A precursor to many other compounds, it is widely used in flooring adhesives but known to be an irritant and carcinogen. Recently, Lumber Liquidators settled with California regulators over Chinese-supplied flooring with improperly indicated formaldehyde content. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) had heretofore more stringent formaldehyde rules than the EPA, but action against the flooring company has changed that. The EPA has recently mandated that the lower CARB formaldehyde standard is now the EPA formaldehyde standard.
So it looks like the flooring industry is going to be regulated into a low CARB diet when it comes to composite wood materials. Fortunately it doesn’t affect the fiber content. If that’s the first low CARB joke anyone’s made so far, we’d like to take credit for it.
EPA Formaldehyde Standard to Take Effect Next Year
The new standard affects not only composite flooring components like medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and hardwood plywood, but also any finished product made from the same products that could release formaldehyde vapors.
One year after the July 27th publication date, the rule enforces TSCA Title VI compliance on “composite wood products that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States.”
Is This Floor Gluten-Free?
The Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Act of 2010 established emission standards and authorized the EPA to enforce the rule.
Using the CARB standard nationwide will likely eliminate confusion and the chance for mistakes, mis-shipments, and mis-labelings. The nationalized standard creates testing requirements to ensure compliance.
Additionally, it creates a third-party certification program and accreditation bodies for them. There’s no indication of how much the new standard will increase the cost of compliance, but be prepared to pay more per square comparatively.
Lumber Liquidators has a recall to test program on the mis-labeled flooring that was sold between February 2012 and May 2015. If you’re concerned about formaldehyde exposure in your home, you can test it yourself or have it tested but be advised that these tests aren’t accurate. It’s very likely that there’s no danger, but high concentrations of formaldehyde are odorous and can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.
If you are a flooring or furniture manufacturer, distributor, or retailer, be sure to find out how your business is affected since the CARB formaldehyde standard is now EPA standard.
New EPA Formaldehyde Standard in a Nutshell
The EPA adopted California’s much more stringent CARB compliance standard for formaldehyde use in composite wood products. The additional regulation includes both materials produced in the US and imported to it. The new nationwide standard is expected to raise the cost of products made from composite wood. You can read the EPA press release here.