August 5, 2016

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When I hear the word formaldehyde, my mind drifts back to the specimens preserved in my middle school biology classroom.  But last week I was reminded that formaldehyde is used in many other applications, including in adhesives in composite wood flooring and furniture.  You might be wondering why an environmental law blog is concerned with your home furnishings, but stay with me.

Because formaldehyde can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose and throat and is a known carcinogen (which I am fairly certain my biology teacher did not disclose to me) and following the Lumber Liquidators investigation that revealed wood flooring the company was selling contained elevated levels of the substance, on July 27, 2016, EPA finalized a rule governing formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products sold, manufactured or imported in the United States.  The rule:

(a)    sets formaldehyde emissions limits,
(b)    requires labeling of products as compliant with the Toxic Substances Control Act,
(c)    sets testing requirements to ensure the products comply with standards, and
(d)    establishes a third-party certification program to ensure compliance.

If you would like to learn more about formaldehyde or the EPA’s new regulation, EPA has established a website with helpful information.