News Brief

EPA Proposes Strict Formaldehyde Limits for Composite Wood Products

New federal rules would mirror California standards and address concerns about third-party testing.

California's emissions requirements for composite wood, such as these particleboard products from SierraPine, will become federal rules when adopted.

Photo: Sierra Pine
In the first significant regulatory move restricting toxic chemicals in years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed two federal rules for regulating formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products—including domestic and imported particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), hardwood plywood, and the finished products made from them.

Combined, the rules are intended to protect people from exposure to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, but they would also standardize regulations across the U.S., making compliance easier for manufacturers and importers.

The first rule addresses emissions, as covered in the 2010 Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act): these are the same standards used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Current CARB standards for formaldehyde are 0.05 parts per million or less; qualifying products that use no-added-formaldehyde resins or ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde resins are exempt from testing.

Laminates that use veneers bonded to compliant substrates with formaldehyde resins are not currently regulated under CARB but would be subject to the EPA rules.

The second rule would “establish the framework for a third-party certification program” that would ensure products meet the emissions standards, according to EPA. The agency is exploring the use of internationally accredited certifiers, rather than those monitored by CARB, so that third-party testing of both domestic and imported products is consistent.

EPA is accepting public feedback on the new regulations and their implementation. Those interested have 60 days from the date the rules are published in the Federal Register to submit their comments.

For more information:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Published June 27, 2013

Ehrlich, B. (2013, June 27). EPA Proposes Strict Formaldehyde Limits for Composite Wood Products. Retrieved from

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