After U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) urged swift action to implement their formaldehyde legislation, the EPA has moved forward with rules to protect consumers from dangerous chemicals in wood products. The newly proposed rules, which are required by the Senators' legislation, create a formaldehyde emission standard for manufactured and imported wood products and also establish a third-party certification process to ensure these standards are met. Earlier this year, Klobuchar and Crapo sent a letter to the EPA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging them to swiftly implement a national formaldehyde standard as required by the senators' Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which was enacted into law in 2010.
"No family should have to worry that the floors or cabinets in their home could be making them sick," Klobuchar said. "I fought hard to get this legislation signed into law, and I will continue to work to see that it is fully implemented, protecting public health and ensuring an even playing field for domestic wood products to compete against foreign imports."
"Americans expect to be safe within their own homes, which is why Senator Klobuchar and I worked hard to put in place needed protections from dangerous chemicals in wood products," Crapo said. "The law was a product of several years of negotiations and I commend the EPA for taking swift action to implement a national formaldehyde standard that not only protects our families, but also maintains a level playing field for American producers."
Formaldehyde is a chemical that is used in many products as an adhesive, bonding agent, or solvent. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse public health effects including eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and, in certain cases, cancer. The domestic wood products industry has already adopted voluntary standards to limit formaldehyde, but domestic products face competition from cheaper imported wood products that may contain high concentrations of formaldehyde. These imports have increased dramatically in the past decade, with China as the principal source.
EPA's first proposal limits how much formaldehyde may be emitted from hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished goods, that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States. The second proposal establishes a third-party certification framework designed to ensure that manufacturers of composite wood products meet the formaldehyde emission standards by having their composite wood products certified though an accredited third-party certifier.
Klobuchar and Crapo's legislation directed the Environmental Protection Agency to establish national standards for formaldehyde emissions in new composite wood products by January 1, 2013. The legislation has broad support from the wood products industry as well as environmental, health, and labor organizations.