SAFEGUARDS | Hardgoods NO. 160/16

US Environmental Protection Agency announced a prepublication version of their final rule for formaldehyde emissions in wood products and an associated certification program.

On July 7, 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act into law. This act amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by adding Title VI that required the US EPA to regulate formaldehyde in fabricated wood products. In 2013, two rules were proposed [1] to regulate formaldehyde in wood products which led to extensive consultation with the wood products industry and other stakeholders. The result of that consultation is a single final rule announced by the EPA and intended for publication that sets up a national certification program for composite wood that is based on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) formaldehyde standards.

The new rules are called 40 CFR 770. [2] The rules set out requirements for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, component parts and finished goods. Product labeling and compliance documentation are required to be maintained through the supply chain. The rules also set out requirements for Third Party Certification (TPC) bodies and Accreditation Bodies (AB) that grant certification.

The regulation sets standards for producers, meaning a manufacturing plant or other facility that manufactures composite wood products on the premises. The regulation requires that composite wood producers be certified through a program that includes testing of products to emission standards and inspection of production facilities. The certification standard includes requirements for processes and record keeping.

The emission standards are based on test method ASTM E1333–10 with the following limits:

  • For hardwood plywood made with a veneer core or a composite core, 0.05 parts per million (ppm) of formaldehyde.

  • For medium-density fiberboard, 0.11 ppm of formaldehyde.

  • For thin medium-density fiberboard, 0.13 ppm of formaldehyde.

  • For particleboard, 0.09 ppm of formaldehyde.

The regulation does not apply to products manufactured before the date the new rules take effect, which is 1 year after publication in the Federal Register.

The new rules exempt several categories of wood from certification:

  • Antiques and second-hand furniture

  • Hardboard

  • Structural plywood, as specified in PS–1–07

  • Structural panels, as specified in PS–2–04

  • Structural composite lumber, as specified in ASTM D5456–06

  • Oriented strand board

  • Glued laminated lumber, as specified in ANSI A190.1–2002

  • Prefabricated wood I-joists, as specified in ASTM D5055–05

  • Finger-jointed lumber

  • Wood packaging

  • Composite products used in vehicles

  • Exterior windows and doors that meet certain standards outlined in the rule

The Regulations also set requirements on importers, fabricators, distributors, and retailers. These downstream users must maintain documentation for three years that show sourced wood panels are in compliance with TSCA Title VI. Documentation must be kept in a way that it can be provided to the EPA within 30 calendar days of the request.

Similar to CARB requirements, fabricators of finished goods containing composite wood products must label every finished good they produce or every box or bundle containing finished goods.

The text on the label must include:

  • the fabricator’s name,

  • the date the finished good was produced (in month/year format)

  • a statement that the finished goods are TSCA Title VI compliant

Other label requirements include:

  • The label may be printed on packaging or applied as a stamp, tag, or sticker in legible English text.

  • The label may also include information about the formaldehyde resins used in the product, if those resins comply with requirements in the law.

  • Fabricators may substitute the name of a responsible downstream fabricator, importer, distributor, or retailer for their name on the label if they obtain and maintain written consent from the downstream entity.

  • Importers, distributors, and retailers must leave intact labels on finished goods, including component parts sold separately to end users.

  • Compliant unlabeled parts may be sold if the information from the label is available to the consumer at retail

  • Finished goods are not required to be labeled if the surface area of its largest face does not exceed 144 square inches.

Existing CARB approved TPC will be able to provide certification to the TSCA formaldehyde emissions standards for 2 years without further approval. TPC are required to become accredited by the EPA for TSCA Title VI certification after the 2 year grace period.

Throughout our global network of Third Party Certification (TPC) laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including certification, analytical testing and consultancy for formaldehyde emissions in composite wood products for California, the US and worldwide markets. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

For enquiries, please contact:

Matthew McGarrity
Technical Manager - Hardlines
t: +01 973 897-8889

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