Formaldehyde is an organic compound found in a large amount of wood flooring products and has general widespread use. The Environmental Protection Agency recently released new regulations to protect the public from potential exposure to formaldehyde. Two rules have been proposed that would set limits on how much formaldehyde can be released from products and establish a third-party certification program. This event will have a large impact on the wood flooring industry and will be a huge benefit to human health.
Formaldehyde solutions were formerly used as disinfectants and to preserve biological specimens, and now the substance is present in a considerable amount of consumer products. Formaldehyde-based solutions are used in embalming to keep the corpse from decomposing as rapidly as it normally would. Because of its widespread use, toxicity and volatility, formaldehyde exposure is considered to be a high risk to human health. The US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen”
In July of 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act. The new legislation establishes limits on how much formaldehyde may be emitted from composite wood products. The EPA was charged with developing regulations to implement these limits and ensure they were being followed. The EPA has recently proposed a couple rules that will accomplish this task and protect people against the risks posed by formaldehyde emissions. The rules put into place a single national set of standards for companies to comply with and guarantees the same protections for all Americans.
The first rule involves setting limits on how much formaldehyde may be released into the air by the wood products. The rule is diligent in its identification of the included wood products, with some examples being: hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and some finished goods. The rule also includes some common sense exclusions for products that do not contain formaldehyde resins. Some of those products include, laminate products and product labeling.
The second rule involves the establishment of a third-party certification program to ensure there is a universal set of standards for manufacturers to comply with. Within this framework, third-party certifiers would need to be accredited and be recognized by the EPA as having the ability to comply with formaldehyde emission standards. The accredited third-party certifiers would then audit composite wood panel producers and verify their compliance with the standards. The third-party certifier and accreditation process ensures that all manufactures are subject to the same set of national standards.
The new regulations release by the EPA will benefit the public by reducing the emissions of a substance that is a known carcinogen. This development will have a large impact on wood flooring and will ultimately improve the industry. If you have any questions regarding the proposed regulations or the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, please comment below.