EPA Composite Wood Formaldehyde Rule Reopened for CommentWASHINGTON - Woodworking manufacturers that use or produce composite panels have until May 8 to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products rule, originally issued June 2013.

EPA has also set an April 28 public meeting for stakeholders wishing to discuss possible modifications to the proposed rule, particularly as it pertains to laminated products. Among those under consideration is the California Air Resources Board’s Alternate Regulatory Approach for Laminated Products Made with Wood Veneer, an approach supported by Federal Wood Industries Coalition (FWIC).

CARB's proposal establishes a 0.13 ppm formaldehyde emission performance standard for laminated products made with wood veneer. Among the criteria, the standard would apply to unfinished wood-veneered laminated products and enforcement testing would be performed on a product specimen, based on the flow-to-area ratio for MDF.

Based on prior feedback from the industry, EPA said it is also looking at: "a reduced testing program for laminated products, a self-certification program for laminated products, an exemption of laminated products from the definition of 'hardwood plywood'; or an exemption from testing and certification requirements for all laminated products or just those made by a low-volume producer."

Formaldehyde emissions regulations impact producers of panels and products made from particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and hardwood plywood, including cabinetry, furniture and casegoods. Also affected are sellers of these products.

EPA said it is also "considering whether third-party certification should be required for laminated products if emission testing for these products is required; what emission standard, if any, would be appropriate for laminated products; and whether laminated products should be grouped for testing purposes."

Currently, there are two parts to EPA's proposed formaldehyde rule: "Third-Party Certification Framework for the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products" (TPC rule) and "Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products" (the implementation rule). In a statement last fall, the FWIC had said it also would like to see for the federal formaldehyde regulation include: a strengthening of third-party certifier requirements; the inclusion of a 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.

Members of the FWIC include: the Composite Panel Association (CPA), the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA), the American Chemistry Council, the American Home Furnishings Alliance, APA – The Engineered Wood Association, Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers, Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, European Panel Federation, International Wood Products Association (IWPA), Moulding & Millwork Producers Association, National Association of Music Merchants, National Retail Federation, and National Wood Flooring Association.

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