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Canada has initiated a consultation period for its draft regulation on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products and a draft directive for the testing of these emissions. These will become effective 180 days after publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

SAFEGUARDS | Hardgoods NO. 099/19

house unit without a furniture

On June 29, 2019, Canada published its draft regulation on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood for indoor use. This proposal would be enacted under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). It contains many of the elements from California’s ‘Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) to Reduce Formaldehyde Emission from Composite Wood Products’ and the US ‘Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act’ (the Act).

This draft regulation includes provisions relating to, inter alia, the following:

  • Formaldehyde emission standards in composite wood panels and laminated products (see Table 1 below) – these are identical to those in California and ‘the Act’
  • Referencing its proposed directive concerning testing for formaldehyde emissions
  • A list of products falling outside the scope of the regulation
  • Incentives for composite wood panels and laminated products where no-added formaldehyde resins (NAF resins) or ultra-low emitting formaldehyde resins (ULEF resins) are used, provided certain emission or quality control requirements are met.
  • Testing for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood panels or laminate products must be conducted by a laboratory that is ISO/IEC 17025 accredited by an accrediting body that is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ILAC MRA), or under the Environmental Quality Act (CQLR), c. Q-2; and the scope of the laboratory’s accreditation includes the testing of formaldehyde emissions from composite wood panels or laminated products.
  • Labeling of composite wood products exceeding 929 cm² (144 square inches (144 in²)) in both English and French – this is not required if the composite wood product’s packaging or the bundle containing the product is labeled. The label information must be clear and legible and printed in characters that meet the requirements of the regulation.
  • Obligations for economic operators:
    • Manufacturers - record keeping in English or French or a combination of these languages for five years, and must make the records relating to emission tests available to purchasers when requested
    • Manufacturers of laminated products - additionally to keep records in either English or French or a combination of these languages for five years if they do not produce the core or platform of the product
    • Manufacturers of composite wood panels or laminated products must submit an annual report on or before March 31 of the calendar year following the year in respect of which the report is prepared
    • Importers and retailers – record keeping in English or French or a combination of these languages for five years

This Regulation will come into force (date of entry into force) 180 days after its publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Once the regulation comes into force, Canada would carry out compliance activities, including the creation of guidance documents and posting of information on its websites.

Canada has launched a 75-day consultation on its draft regulation on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products for indoor use and the draft directive on testing, and comments are accepted until September 12, 2019.

Highlights of the draft regulation on formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood panels and laminated products are summarized in Table 1.

Canada Gazette, Part 1, Volume 153, Number 26, June 29, 2019
Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products Regulations
Substance Scope Method Requirement Date of entry into force
Formaldehyde Emission Hardwood Plywood (HWPW) ASTM E1333 (large chamber) or

ASTM D6007 (small chamber, subject to demonstrating equivalence)
≤ 0.05 ppm 180th day after publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II*
Particleboard (PB) ≤ 0.09 ppm
Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF) ≤ 0.11 ppm
Thin-MDF ≤ 0.13 ppm
Laminated Products ≤ 0.05 ppm
*Non-compliant composite wood products located in Canada prior to the date of entry into force may be used in manufacturing, offered for sale or sold for 3 years

*Non-compliant laminated products, excluding the cores or platforms, in which formaldehyde resins other than phenol-formaldehyde resins or NAF resins are used, are not required to comply for 5 years after the date of entry into force

Table 1.

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