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newsrel -- New requirements for composite wood effective January 1, 2009

Posted: 06 Oct 2008 11:16:22
Reductions will reduce cancer risks throughout California. 

Release 08-90
October 6, 2008
Dimitri Stanich

New requirements for composite wood effective January 1, 2009

Three months to coming deadline

SACRAMENTO: The California Air Resources Board is alerting the
composite-wood industry that the phase-in process for
regulations limiting formaldehyde emissions from their products
begins with the New Year.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, the first phase of the regulation
requires that manufacturers produce panels of hardwood plywood,
particle board, medium density fiberboard and thin
medium-density fiberboard for the California market that meet
the required low levels of formaldehyde. This will be followed
six months later by similar requirements for hardwood plywood
with a composite core.

"These new regulations represent a historic step forward in
reducing carcinogenic formaldehyde emissions that can collect
over time indoors and pose threats to people's lungs and
respiratory systems," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols.
"Everything from desks to cabinets to wall panels will soon be
required to be constructed using cleaner resins, which will go a
long way in providing safer environments in homes, businesses and
other structures."

Recognized as the most stringent production-based standards in
the world, these regulations will be implemented in two phases,
requiring the increasingly stringent reductions to be fully
implemented by 2012.

All businesses that manufacture, sell, use or supply
composite-wood products to California will be subject to aspects
of the regulations. These businesses include panel manufacturers,
importers, distributors, retailers, and fabricators of finished
goods. Only composite-wood products that meet the standards may
be used in the fabrication of finished goods, such as furniture,
cabinets, etc. once the sell-through provisions expire. The
regulation allows for current stocks of non-compliant
composite-wood inventories to be sold for a period of time in

The regulations are expected to increase the cost of four foot
by eight foot panels by one to two dollars but they will
dramatically reduce the public's exposure to this carcinogen.
Phase-one will cut formaldehyde emissions by 180 tons-per-year
and phase-two another 500 tons-per-year.

In addition to being a carcinogen, exposure to formaldehyde can
cause headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Moderate levels of
formaldehyde can cause a number of adverse health effects
including temporary burning or itchy eyes and nose, stuffy nose
and sore throat. At higher concentrations formaldehyde can
irritate the lung's passageways and cause chest tightness,
coughing, and wheezing. People with pre-existing respiratory and
cardiac problems are especially susceptible to these effects.

The rules for composite-wood products and finished goods require
compliance at each level of the commercial-distribution chain and
the Air Resources Board's Enforcement Division personnel will be
monitoring and enforcing this aspect throughout the state.

For more information on this regulation go to the website:

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California
Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and
protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through
effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and
considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air
pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain
health based air quality standards.


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