In a significant victory for proponents in the woodworking industry, the Committee on Energy and Commerce voted 27-10 on May 26 to “favorably report HR 4805” for action by the House of Representatives.

HR 4805, The Formaldehyde in Composite Wood Products Act, directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a national emission standard under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). What this means is that particleboard, MDF and hardwood plywood manufactured or sold in the United States — and the products made from them — will have to meet the formaldehyde emission ceilings set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

First introduced by Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), the bill was amended following public comment sessions, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). Among the changes is the addition of emission standards for composite panels made with no-added formaldehyde-based resins, and an extension of the EPA’s promulgation deadline from Jan. 1, 2012, to Jan. 1, 2013.

According to reports, the amended House bill is expected to be the version set for vote before the Senate, replacing S 1660, the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act introduced last fall by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Crapo (R-ID).

Advocates say, if passed, this bill will level the playing field while giving the United States one of the toughest production standards in the world. The bill is supported by a coalition of industry, environmental, health and labor organizations, including the Composite Panel Assn. (CPA), the American Home Furnishings Alliance, the American Forest & Paper Assn., Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn., the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn., APA-The Engineered Wood Assn., The Sierra Club and the National Center for Healthy Housing.

CPA President Tom Julia, who has testified on behalf of the bill, states, “The work of our industry coalition in support of this important bill was critical to its success, and I am grateful to my colleagues for their determination to see through some of the highly challenging negotiations in recent weeks.”

There is a definite need for formaldehyde emission regulation. Already classified as a “known human carcinogen” in nasopharyngeal cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the agency also reported a link between formaldehyde exposure and leukemia.

Congress will be taking the correct action in passing this legislation. Not only will it level the playing field among manufacturers of domestic and imported wood products, but it will result in a safer environment for us all.
It certainly has my vote. What about yours?

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