Formaldehyde Standard to Move Forward June 1 After Court Ruling

Formaldehyde Standard to Move Forward June 1 After Court Ruling

Composite wood, engineered hardwood, manufactured wood. No matter what you choose to call it, you’ll need to be prepared for June 1, when regulations that address the presence of formaldehyde in man-made wood come into effect — six months earlier than expected.

A United States federal court ruling said the long-delayed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products will come into effect on June 1, 2018, after the deadline had originally been extended to December 12, 2018. The Trump administration had extended the deadline, but Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, challenged the extension on behalf of two NGOs and won. A judge ruled the EPA didn’t have the authority to grant the extension in the first place.

The compliance standard means companies that manufacture composite wooden products must certify their products comply with the EPA’s standard or the identical California Air Resources Board (CARB) Phase II standard.

Products manufactured in the U.S. will be required to certify conformance with the standard starting June 1, 2018, while products imported into the U.S. will be required to comply from March 22, 2019, onward. Anyone who sells, supplies, offers for sale, manufactures or imports composite wood products — including manufacturers, fabricators, distributors and retailers — will require third party certification.

The formaldehyde threshold standards are different for specific types of board:

  • Hardwood plywood (veneer core) and hardwood plywood (composite core): 0.05 parts per million (ppm)
  • Particleboard: 0.09 ppm
  • Medium-density fiberboard: 0.11 ppm
  • Thin medium-density fiberboard: 0.13 ppm

Formaldehyde is commonly used in resins and glues used to create composite wood products by joining wooden strands, fibers, veneers and particles. Small amounts can emit fumes from the products, exposing both workers and consumers. The amount released reduces over time, but it can take weeks to years for a product to fully off-gas all formaldehyde.

Short term effects of formaldehyde exposure, which can often be detected by a strong smell, include watery eyes, burning sensations, coughing, wheezing, nausea and skin irritation. The U.S. National Cancer Institute says long-term effects are still unknown.

In a press release, Earthjustice said the court order “levels the competitive playing field” for American manufacturers that say they have been undercut by foreign products that don’t have to meet the same safety standards. They said the ruling will also result in safer products for consumers.

In order to track the presence of formaldehyde, companies must have a method to properly survey the supply chain and provide data on substances, such as formaldehyde, that are subject to regulation.

Assent Compliance Platform’s Full Materials Disclosure (FMD) Module allows users to collect supply chain data by easily surveying suppliers. Streamlined data collection helps identify the presence of formaldehyde and any other substances that may be linked to new regulations or future regulation updates.

To learn more about the benefits of collecting a Full Materials Disclosure or the Assent Compliance Platform, contact More information on IPC Data Exchange Standards can be found on our IPC-1752A page.