EPA Formaldehyde Emissions Regulation: TSCA Title VI
On May 22, 2017, the EPA regulations implementing the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (TSCA Title VI) entered into effect, establishing in the U.S. the world’s most stringent formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products.
The regulation is patterned off of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) 2008 formaldehyde emissions standards, including:
- Product scope:
- Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
- Hardwood Plywood
- All products made with the above materials, including for example, furniture, kitchen cabinets and laminate flooring
- Low emission limits:
- Particleboard (0.09 ppm)
- MDF (0.11 ppm)
- Thin MDF (0.13 ppm)
- Hardwood Plywood (0.05 ppm)
- Rigorous testing and third-party certification system to ensure compliance
- Reduced testing and/or exemptions from testing and certification for no-added formaldehyde (NAF) and ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) products
- Similar labeling, reporting and recordkeeping requirements
There are also several provisions unique to the EPA regulation, including most notably:
- Laminated Products: Some fabricators that make component parts using a wood or woody grass veneer (such as bamboo) attached to a composite wood core may also meet the definition for “laminated product” producers, which triggers a number of additional requirements.
- Limited de Minimis Exemption: An exemption for finished goods or component parts sold directly to end users if the composite wood content does not exceed 144 square inches on its largest face.
- Sell-Through Provision: The regulation also provides for a broad sell-through provision.
These rules apply to both imported and domestic composite wood panels and finished products.
The EPA withdrew its Direct Final Rule on July 6, 2017 which would have delayed implementation dates. Therefore as of July 6, 2017, the regulation's implementation dates are as follows:
December 12, 2017:
- The first major implementation date for the TSCA Title VI regulation, at which point all composite wood panel producers will have to meet the regulation’s emissions testing, certification, labeling and record-keeping requirements.
- Fabricators will also be required to source only TSCA Title VI-compliant composite wood and meet labeling and recordkeeping requirements.
- Distributors and retailers must also meet recordkeeping requirements.
December 12, 2018:
- Importers will face an additional requirement on this date, whereby all shipments will need to be accompanied by an import declaration certifying compliance to the standard.
December 12, 2023:
- Laminated products made with urea-formaldehyde based resins must meet the requirements for hardwood plywood.
- Laminated products made with NAF or phenol formaldehyde resins must keep records demonstrating the use of these resins.
- Fabricators of either type of laminated product must still document the use of compliant core as well.
As a commitment to good stewardship, North American manufacturers of particleboard and MDF have since 2008 voluntarily agreed to meet California’s formaldehyde emissions standard for all production, which as noted above, are the same as those in the TSCA Title VI regulation. This has required major investments in technology upgrades, quality assurance programs and third-party verification systems. The North American composite wood industry now carries forward this commitment to good stewardship in fully supporting EPA’s efforts to put in place a strong enforcement program to ensure all composite wood products, no matter whether made in the U.S. or abroad, meet this new stringent emissions standard. View a complete list of CPA Manufacturers and their products in the Surface & Panel Buyers Guide.
Resource Guide: What the EPA Formaldehyde Rule Means to You
At-a-Glance: EPA Rule At-a-Glance
How Donald Trump's EPA Can Reinvigorate U.S. Manufacturing
- Real Clear Markets, article by Jackson Morrill, CPA President
Inside EPA (Subscription Only)
Surface & Panel 4th Quarter Edition (pages 6-7)