What’s Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound used in adhesives during the production of composite wood products like hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard. It can also be found in building materials and everyday household products like glues, fabrics, and paints.

While low levels of formaldehyde are harmless, high levels may cause serious health issues. A colorless gas that produces a strong pickle-like smell when high levels are present, formaldehyde can cause a number of symptoms. High-level exposure can cause itchy eyes, bloody nose, sore throat, and a persistent cough. If exposure is long-term, formaldehyde may also increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.

The History

In 2010, the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act was signed into law by President Obama. This law established emission standards for formaldehyde from composite wood products and directed the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) to finalize a rule on how it would be implemented and enforced. (“Formaldehyde Emission Standards,” 2017)

In December of 2016, EPA finalized a national rule requiring all composite wood products “sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States to be labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant”. The rule also established a “third-party certification program for laboratory testing and oversight of formaldehyde emissions from manufactured and/or imported composite wood products.” (“Formaldehyde Emission Standards,” 2017)

On May 22, 2017, EPA's regulations requiring TSCA Title VI compliance went into effect. The final EPA rule ensures that composite wood products like hardwood plywood are in full compliance with the emission standards found in the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act.


Products You Can Trust. Browse Our List of TSCA Title VI Certified Members
 

HPVA Laboratories (soon to be Capital Testing) is the first third-party certifier to be recognized by EPA to certify to the EPA TSCA Title VI formaldehyde emissions regulation.

HPVA Laboratories can answer any questions you have about TSCA Title VI certification requirements (labexperts@hpva.org).

HPVA Laboratories is the testing and certification arm of the Decorative Hardwoods Association.


Key compliance dates:

June 1, 2018: All composite wood products must be TSCA Title VI compliant and meet all of the regulation's requirements.

  • Producers may still manufacture and sell products certified to CARB ATCM Phase II emission standards and label as TSCA Title VI compliant, as long as panels are certified by a CARB-approved TPC and are recognized by EPA. Manufacturers must comply with emissions, testing, certification, labeling, and recordkeeping requirements.
     
  • Fabricators may still source panels compliant with CARB ATCM Phase II, as long as panels are certified by a CARB-approved TPC and are recognized by EPA. Fabricators must comply with labeling and recordkeeping requirements.
     
  • Importers may still import panels compliant with CARB ATCM Phase II, as long as panels are certified by a CARB-approved TPC and are recognized by EPA. Importers must comply with certification, labeling, and recordkeeping requirements.
     
  • Manufacturers of laminated products may still source panels compliant with CARB ATCM Phase II, as long as panels are certified by a CARB-approved TPC and are recognized by EPA. Manufacturers of laminated products must comply with recordkeeping requirements.
     
  • Distributors and retailers must comply with record-keeping and label retention requirements.


March 22, 2019: Composite wood products must be certified and labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant by a TPC (third-party-certifier) approved by EPA and can no longer use CARB-approved TPCs or products certified to CARB ATCM Phase II emissions standards. Only TSCA Title VI compliant panels and finished goods may be sourced.


Resources:

Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (TSCA Title VI)

EPA TSCA Title VI Regulation

EPA TSCA Title VI Resources

CARB Composite Wood Products ATCM

CARB Resources
 

References:

Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products. (2017, December 8). Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-emission-standards-composite-wood-products