AWI e-briefs - 07/15/2010 (Plain Text Version)

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Federal Scene

Formaldehyde Emission Legislation Signed into Law

The U.S. Congress has approved legislation (S. 1660), signed into law on July 7, 2010 by President Obama, that limits the allowable emissions of formaldehyde from specific composite wood products, hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard sold in the United States.

The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Woods Products Act amends the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act by requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement formaldehyde emission standards originally established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) by 2013.

The new federal law restricts formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products sold, supplied, or manufactured in the U.S., including those imported from foreign countries. "The result will be the toughest production standard in the world, including provisions to ensure that products made with composite wood panels meet the standing," said the Composite Panel Association (CPA).

Although the regulations put the national emissions standards in place as early as July of 2011 and 2012, the EPA has an additional two and a half years – until January 2013 – to promulgate regulations to implement the standards and retailers will be allowed to "sell-through" their inventory beyond that date. Other sources of formaldehyde other than its use in building products are not addressed by the legislation, according to the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association (HPVA).

There is a labeling option in the federal legislation for indicating "no-added formaldehyde-base binder." Over half of the hardwood plywood manufactured in North America uses these types of resin systems and about 60% of the North American produced hardwood plywood is exempt from the lowest emission standards of the panel products regulated by this new federal law, HPVA noted.

EPA’s implementing regulations will ensure compliance equivalent to compliance with the California standing, including its provisions relating to labeling, chain of custody requirements, sell-through provisions, ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde resins, no-added formaldehyde resins, finished goods, third-party testing and certification, auditing and reporting of third-party certifiers, record-keeping and enforcement, as well as import regulations.

To view the final text of the "Enrolled" bill, visit and search on the bill number, S. 1660. The measure, which was signed into law as Public Law No.111-199 is not available for viewing on the Government Printing Office Web site as AWI e-briefs goes too press.  [Return to top]