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newsrel -- Strict Limits on Formaldehyde from Composite Wood

Posted: 27 Apr 2007 11:37:01
Please consider the following Air Resources Board press release
announcing the board's action to reduce formaldehyde emissions
from composite wood.  You can also see the release online here:
Thank You
Dimitri Stanich
ARB Public Information Office
Release 07-16  	   	   	 
April 27, 2007 	  	

Gennet Paauwe
Dimitri Stanich
(916) 322-2990

Air Board Sets Strict Limits on Toxic Formaldehyde
Emissions from Composite Wood Products

Sacramento: The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted
regulations yesterday that require manufacturers of composite
woods products, such as hardwood plywood, particleboard and
fiberboard to reduce formaldehyde emissions to protect public

"Today's action will bring California in line with Europe and
Japan in Phase 1," said ARB Chairman, Dr. Robert Sawyer, "and
will make us the world leader when we implement Phase 2 in 2012.
This measure will substantially reduce public exposure to
formaldehyde, related asthma attacks and the risk of getting

All wood has some naturally occurring formaldehyde. But more
formaldehyde is added to composite wood in the form of certain
resins, which are used to bind wood particles together. New
methods are available and others are quickly being developed
that reduce and even eliminate the need for formaldehyde. When
ARB's standards are in full effect in 2012, annually there will
be 500 fewer tons of formaldehyde in California's air.

Composite wood is a general term for wood-based panels made from
wood pieces, particles or fibers bonded together with a resin.
Today's regulations focus on three products: hardwood plywood,
particleboard, and medium density fiberboard. Most of these
products are used to make furniture, cabinets, shelving,
countertops, flooring and moldings in homes. Formaldehyde is
released from composite wood products at manufacturing plants,
fabrication facilities, lumberyards, and home construction
sites, and ultimately through windows, doors and ventilation
systems in homes, schools and other buildings.

The regulations require all composite wood products sold in
California to meet strict formaldehyde limits. Similar products
sold outside of California are exempt. To ensure compliance,
foreign and domestic manufacturers must certify their products
by a "third party" lab approved by ARB and clearly label the
items as meeting California's emission requirements.
Distributors, contractors, panel manufacturers, and importers
will be held responsible for assuring their products comply.

Formaldehyde has both cancer and non-cancer health effects. The
International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded there is
sufficient evidence that formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal
cancer in humans (the region of the throat behind the nose).
Formaldehyde also has non-cancer effects such as eye, nose and
respiratory irritation and has been linked to the exacerbation
of asthma. Health risks from average formaldehyde exposures in
California from all sources range from 86 to 231 excess cancer
cases per million for adults, and from 23 to 63 excess cancer
cases per million for children.

Formaldehyde was identified as a toxic air contaminant (TAC) by
ARB in 1992 with no safe level of exposure. Once a TAC is
identified, ARB is legally required to limit public exposure to
the maximum feasible extent through the adoption of one or more
Air Toxic Control Measures.
As part of that process, statewide formaldehyde exposure was
reevaluated by ARB in 2005.
That evaluation found that emissions near composite woods were
too high and required additional controls.

For more information go to:
http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/compwood.htm .

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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