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Formaldehyde Vapors from Composite Wood Products
EPA recently finalized a new rule intended to reduce the public’s exposure to formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products. The rule implements the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act of 2010, which added Title VI to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and established limits for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products that are sold, manufactured, or imported into the U.S.
The requirements for composite wood products in EPA’s final rule are consistent, “to the extent EPA deemed appropriate and practical considering TSCA Title VI,” with those currently in effect in California under the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Air Toxics Control Measure to Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products. The formaldehyde emission standards in the pre-publication copy of EPA’s final rule match the emission standards in California’s regulation. Both EPA’s and CARB’s standards cover hardwood plywood made with a veneer or composite core, particleboard, medium-density fiberboard, and thin medium-density fiberboard.
California’s regulation defines particleboard as “a panel composed of cellulosic material in the form of discrete particles that are pressed together with resin.” Medium-density fiberboard is “a panel composed of cellulosic fibers made by dry forming and pressing of a resinated fiber mat,” and thin medium-density fiberboard has a maximum thickness of eight millimeters.
Information from the pre-publication copy of EPA’s new final rule appears below.
From EPA’s press release announcing its final rule
Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products
: “One year after the rule is published, composite wood products that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States will need to be labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant. These products include: hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard as well as household and other finished goods containing these products.”
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Editor's Note: Fumes vs. Vapors
 
The original wording from the Center for Public Integrity's report "Common Solvent Keeps Killing Workers, Consumers" mistakenly refers to "fumes" in a context where "vapors" is the correct term. The Synergist has corrected this error in the digital edition.
 
Unfortunately, the error found its way into the print version of the November issue. The Synergist regrets the error and will publish a correction in the December issue.
 
Ed Rutkowski, editor