Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood and Wood Laminate
In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule that would regulate the amount of formaldehyde emissions from composite wood, such as hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard. Additionally, the proposed rule would regulate laminated wood products, impose more precise labeling on covered products and require compliance information to be passed down from manufacturer/importer through the distribution chain.
On December 12, 2016, EPA published a final rule to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States. The rule regulates laminated wood products, imposes more precise labeling on covered products and requires compliance information to be passed down from manufacturer/importer through the distribution chain. Any musical instrument made of composite or laminate wood is impacted by the new regulations. In July of 2018, the EPA suppressed a draft health assessment on formaldehyde, suggesting that current regulations protecting the public from overexposure to formaldehyde might not be stringent enough to prevent increased risks of developing leukemia, nose and throat cancer, and other illnesses. NAMM will continue to monitor developments.
CARB2 - California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Phase 2. CARB2 stands for the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Phase 2, a stringent standard for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, including hardwood plywood (HWPW), particleboard (PB), and medium density fiberboard (MDF). Composite wood products are panels made from pieces, chips, particles, or fibers of wood bonded together with a resin. In the production of laminate flooring, the core board is made up of medium to high-density fiberboard. This is where the emissions concerns come from.
Note: The formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products under the EPA final rule, and set by Congress, are identical to the California “Phase 2” formaldehyde emission standards (CARB2). EPA worked to align the other requirements of the federal rule with the California requirements. However, there are a few differences. Unlike the California requirements, among other things, the EPA rule:
- Requires records be kept for 3 years versus 2 years;
- Requires importers to provide import certification under TSCA beginning March 22, 2019;
- Requires manufacturers to disclose upon request formaldehyde testing results to their direct purchasers; and
- Requires laminated products not exempted from the definition of hardwood plywood to meet the hardwood plywood formaldehyde emissions standard beginning March 22, 2024.
Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulations. Manufacturers exporting musical instruments to the European Union (EU), or operating within the EU, should be aware of the REACH regulation. Effective June 1, 2007, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) reg (EC1907/2006) is regarded as the strictest in the world pertaining to chemicals (e.g., glues, resins, etc.) used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products. Further information on REACH can be found here
- 4/10/18: American National Standards Institute Proposal
April 10, 2018. NAMM Statement in response to the American National Standards Institute Proposal. View here.
- 4/4/18: Federal Register Notice
On April 4. 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a Federal Register notice with updated compliance dates for the agency’s Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products Final Rule. This change is the result of a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club which had challenged the agency’s extension of the compliance date to December 12, 2018 from December 12, 2017. The result of the Court’s decision is the following:
- By June 1, 2018, regulated composite wood panels and finished products containing such composite wood panels that are manufactured (in the United States) or imported (into the United States) must be certified as compliant with either the TSCA Title VI or the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) Phase II emission standards, which are set at identical levels, by a third-party certifier (TPC) approved by CARB and recognized by EPA. Previously, these products were required to be TSCA Title VI compliant by December 12, 2018.
- Until March 22, 2019, regulated products certified as compliant with the CARB ATCM Phase II emission standards must be labeled as compliant with either the TSCA Title VI or the CARB ATCM Phase II emission standards. Regulated products manufactured in or imported into the United States after March 22, 2019 may not rely on the CARB reciprocity of 40 CFR 770.15(e) and must be certified and labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant by an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC with all of the required accreditations.
- After March 22, 2019, CARB-approved TPCs must comply with additional accreditation requirements in order to remain recognized as an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC and to continue certifying products as TSCA Title VI compliant.
The information is available under the “Compliance Date Amendment” portion of the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products website.
- 12/12/16: EPA Issues Final Formaldehyde Rule
Note: Any musical instrument made of composite or laminate wood is impacted by the new regulations.
On December 12, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued its long-overdue final rule setting formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products such as plywood, particleboard, etc. The standards, mandated by a federal law, track closely to a California state standard established several years ago.
The rule's emissions levels go into effect December 12, 2017 for all panel manufacturers. On the same date, product manufacturers and laminators will be required to use compliant core material in their products. Composite wood subject to the rule is used in such products as instrument cases and electronic keyboards.
In addition to the standards, EPA has established a new certification requirement for imports of composite wood panels or products made with composite wood. The certification requirement is effective December 12, 2018.
Text of EPA's final formaldehyde rule can be found here.
To learn more about formaldehyde and how proposed regulations can impact composite wood products, please visit the EPA for more information.