News Analysis

California Targets Formaldehyde in Panel Products

If a proposed regulation from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is adopted as planned on September 28, 2006, the U.S. market for particleboard and similar interior-grade panel products will change dramatically. The proposed regulation drastically reduces the allowable levels of urea-formaldehyde (UF) emissions from composite wood products that are sold, supplied, used, or manufactured in California. A final draft of the rule is due to be released for a 45-day public comment period on August 11, 2006.

A June 2006 draft calls for tightening allowable formaldehyde emissions from panel products as of July 1, 2008. The proposed standard at this phase, which represents about a 30% reduction from current industry guidelines, is based on formaldehyde levels that the better-performing UF-based products on the market are now achieving. A further reduction in 2010 for particleboard and hardwood plywood, and in 2012 for medium-density fiberboard (MDF), reduces allowable emissions to the point where UF may no longer be usable as a binder—although the limits were raised in this draft from a previous version. Avoiding composite panel products made with UF resins is currently worth a point in the LEED® Rating System—this change would make that choice business as usual, at least in California. The only exemption in the proposed rule is for products used in mobile homes. These are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and states are not allowed to supersede those regulations.

Published July 9, 2006

Malin, N. (2006, July 9). California Targets Formaldehyde in Panel Products. Retrieved from