EPA 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.
*UPDATE: On March 13, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order altering many of the compliance dates of EPA's TSCA Title VI formaldehyde regulation. As a result, the previous December 12, 2018 compliance date is no longer applicable, and the new compliance dates are as follows.
June 1, 2018*:
The first major compliance 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.
Composite wood panels manufactured before June 1, 2018 may be sold or used to fabricate finished goods at any time.
Composite wood panel producers may continue to manufacture and sell CARB ATCM Phase 2 certified panels until March 22, 2019. These panels may be labeled as TSCA Title VI compliant during this transition period.
Fabricators must meet labeling and record-keeping requirements and source only:
(a) TSCA Title VI-compliant composite panels; or
(b) CARB ATCM Phase 2 certified panels, but only until March 22, 2019.
Fabricators that source CARB ATCM Phase 2 certified panels may label finished products as TSCA Title VI compliant until March 22, 2019.
Importers must comply with certification, labeling and record-keeping requirements.
Importers may continue to import CARB ATCM Phase 2 certified panels until March 22, 2019 and label panels as TSCA Title VI compliant.
Distributors and retailers must meet record-keeping and label retention requirements.
Laminated products made with urea-formaldehyde based resins must source only compliant wood core panels and comply with record-keeping requirements.
Laminated product manufacturers may source CARB ATCM Phase 2 certified panels until March 22, 2019 and label these laminated products as TSCA Title VI compliant.
Laminated products made with NAF or phenol formaldehyde resins must source only compliant wood core panels and comply with record-keeping requirements.
March 22, 2019*:
Panel producers must be certified TSCA Title VI compliant and can no longer produce and sell CARB ATCM Phase 2 certified panels.
Finished product manufacturers, distributors and retailers may only source TSCA Title VI compliant panels and finished goods.
Importers may no longer import CARB ATCM Phase 2 panels; only TSCA Title VI certified panels and finished products may be imported.
Certification by a CARB-approved Third-Party Certifiers (TPCs) in no longer acceptable; must be EPA-approved.
Import certification required under TSCA Section 13.
March 22, 2024*:
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.
For additional information about the Federal Court's decision, see below under "Recent News."
See the EPA Rule At-a-Glance* document below for a full list of dates and requirements.
This information is designed to be a quick reference for impacted industries. Consult your own legal advisors to determine compliance with the TSCA Title VI regulation.
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 (Updated 3/20/18)
At-a-Glance: EPA Rule At-a-Glance (Updated 3/20/18)
CPA Webinar: TSCA Title VI - March 23, 2018
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)