Chemists Fume on EPA Composite Wood Formaldehyde Rule

By Bill Esler | Posted: 10/12/2013 9:42PM


American Cheistry Council Formaldehyde Panel  WASHINGTON - New composite wood formaldehyde emissions standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency are "arbitrary and contrary to the intent of the law," says the  American Chemistry Council's Formaldehyde Panel.

The chemists group filed its comments last week with the EPA following publication of proposed standards by the regulatory agency.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has standards that limit formaldehyde emissions from wood products, and in 2010, Congress enacted legislation mandating a national emissions standard for composite wood products.

ACC's Formaldehyde Panel says it supports a performance-based standard along the lines of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) to Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products.

"We support a national regulation that adopts the current California standards," said Jackson Morrill, director of ACC's Formaldehyde Panel.

The Federal Wood Industies Coalition (FWIC), a broad-based group convened by the Composite Panel Association, which also supports adopting California's CARB rule as a national standard, submitted a final letter to EPA last week. The FWIC includes Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers, Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association and National Wood Flooring Association to name a few. In its letter, FWIC advocates for a specific de minimis exemption; the replacement of EPA’s proposal for non-complying lots with a 72-hour notice provision; and the protection of confidential business information.

Widely used in adhesives, or in the production of wood composite products for furniture, kitchen cabinets, countertops and flooring, formaldehyde results in small quantities of formaldehyde gas emission from various wood composite products. Though formaldehyde gas emissions diminish over time, disagreement surrounds how much is too much, and what are the permissible standards.

ACC created a panel in 2010 to address issues in formaldehyde, as concerns arose about consumer exposure to it in hair care products and interior wood products. Two of the nation’s major formaldehyde producers, Georgia-Pacific Chemicals and Hexion Specialty Chemicals, helped establish it with a mission of advocacy, research, and marketplace outreach. The ACC Formaldehyde Panel represents producers, users, and suppliers of formaldehyde and formaldehyde products.

The panel says EPA has overreached in the development of its latest proposed rule, "which is not based on the best available science [and] greatly overstates any tangible health benefits," according to Morrill. Incidences of nasopharyngeal cancer estimated by the EPA exceed actual National Cancer Institute data on incidence of these cancers from all causes in the U.S. population, he says.

ACC's Formaldehyde Panel says its members have been developing products to meet performance requirements set by customers and the California Air Resource Board, to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. These led to ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins that reduce potential emissions to very low levels. These resin systems meet technical performance requirements for manufacturers of composite wood products, and meet CARB ATCM emissions standards.

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About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at or follow him on Google+.

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Canada  |  October, 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Why would a video presented on formaldehyde emissions be bringing public attention to a product such as O.S.B. which does not any have any such emissions? We do not need propaganda, we need truth in advertising, If the particle board and MDF manufacturers simply used the same adhesive as OSB, emissions from these products would be eliminated. Shame on you for presenting this misleading information.

Bill Esler    
Chicago  |  October, 20, 2013 at 08:30 AM

Waye, Point well taken. This video was produced by the ACC Formaldehyde Panel reported on in the panel - it's embedded from Youtube so there are some limits on how we can re-post or position it - it does show MDF further along in the video. I'll repost it in a way that allows its source and point of view to be described.


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