Legislation protects consumers from formaldehydeU.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced this week that her legislation, the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act, has passed the full Senate.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced this week that her legislation, the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act, has passed the full Senate.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Klobuchar and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) last September, will establish national health standards for formaldehyde in composite wood products, protecting consumers from potentially hazardous levels of the chemical. The new standards would apply to both domestic products and foreign imports.
“I’ve always believed that the first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens,” said Klobuchar. “High levels of formaldehyde are a health threat. This bill will establish national standards that will both protect public health and ensure an even playing field between domestic wood products and foreign imports. This is a major step forward, and I look forward to seeing this bill become law.”
“Not only does this legislation protect consumers; it also ensures that foreign wood products adhere to the same safety standards we employ here in the U.S.,” said Crapo. “I appreciate the due diligence already shown by our domestic industry in this regard, and the vision on this issue expressed by members of the Senate.”
Formaldehyde is a chemical that is used in many products as an adhesive, bonding agent or solvent. Most composite wood (made from wood pieces, particles or fibers bonded together with resin) contains some formaldehyde. Composite wood is used in common household products such as furniture, cabinets, shelving, countertops, flooring and molding.
In recent years, there have been concerns about the potential health hazards posed by high concentrations of formaldehyde in composite wood products. The domestic wood products industry has already adopted voluntary standards to limit formaldehyde, but domestic products face competition from cheaper imported wood products that may contain high concentrations of formaldehyde. These imports have increased dramatically in the past decade, with China as the principal source.
The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act would establish national emission standards under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for formaldehyde in new composite wood products (secondhand products and antiques are exempted).
Under the proposed federal legislation, by January 1, 2013, these products sold in the U.S. would have to meet a formaldehyde emission standards of about 0.09 parts per million. Collectively, these would be the toughest standards in the world.
In addition to establishing the national standards, this legislation would:
--Require third-party testing and certification to ensure that products with formaldehyde comply with the national standards; and
--Direct the EPA to work with Customs and Border Protection and other relevant federal agencies to enforce the standards for imported wood products.
This legislation has broad support from the wood products industry as well as environmental, health and labor organizations, Klobuchar said.
“This legislation helps the forest products industry and consumers in our country," said Wayne Brandt, Executive Vice President of the Minnesota Forest Industries.
North American manufacturers of composite wood products have put in place rigorous programs to meet the California rule, and nearly 100 percent of U.S. production is already California compliant. The Composite Panel Association supports Klobuchar’s legislation.
“This is a significant accomplishment, but enforcement is still only possible in California and not the other 49 states,” said Tom Julia, president of the Composite Panel Association. “Without a national standard it will be difficult to monitor the compliance of products sold into those states as well as those imported from around the world. CPA is pleased that Senators Klobuchar and Crapo have taken the lead to advance product stewardship, promote green jobs, and ensure a level playing field for domestic manufacturers.”