CARB shifts NAF/ULEF exemption approval to third-party certifiers

Composite panels are used in a variety of finished products, including furniture, cabinetry and flooring.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Effective July 14, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) stated it will no longer process applications from composite panel manufacturers seeking no-added formaldehyde (NAF) or ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) exemptions under the Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) 93120.

CARB will instead shift this responsibility to approved third-party certifiers, which include the Composite Panel Association. Internationally recognized as a TPC-1 with more than 125 CARB exemptions already issued, the CPA Grademark Certification team is on the EPA's list of recognized third-party certifiers under the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Rule.

An update to CARB's NAF/ULEF provisions notes:

"Unfortunately, due to the large number of new and renewal applications, CARB is no longer able to review these applications in a timely manner. California Code of Regulations, title 17, section 93120.3 allows CARB to extend the normal 90-day review time of an application by way of an agreement with a manufacturer. However, U.S. EPA will not recognize any exemption extension that goes beyond the two-year exemption period. Any manufacturer considering applying to CARB for a NAF/ULEF approval, renewal, or amendment should be aware of this, since the extended exemption would only be valid under CARB’s regulation.

"CARB will review and process all complete applications received prior to July 14, 2023, within the existing regulatory timeframe. Starting on this date, CARB encourages all manufacturers that choose to apply for approval, renewal, or amendment as a NAF/ULEF manufacturer to contact a CARB-approved/U.S. EPA recognized TPC. A list of TPCs recognized under the U.S. EPA TSCA Title VI regulation may be found through the U.S. EPA’s website ( Approvals, renewals, or amendments obtained by a manufacturer working with a TPC will be valid for both U.S. EPA and CARB."

It was in 2007 that CARB approved a regulation to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products sold, supplied, used, or manufactured for sale in California. Focusing on hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard (MDF), the regulation requires that the panels and new finished goods that contain the composite wood products meet the stringent formaldehyde emission standards and be labeled as such. Examples of finished goods include, cabinetry, countertops, furniture, flooring, closet systems, and retail fixtures.


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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]