After a 5 year long struggle to regulate formaldehyde, a toxic chemical commonly found throughout the home, the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new limits.
It might surprise consumers to discover that a chemical that is so toxic until now has not had any regulatory oversight. It is a known carcinogen that is often used as a glue in flooring and furniture products (think of your closet systems and kitchen cabinets).
The rules go into effect next year and require manufacturers to comply with new testing and certification requirements. The rule will require that composite wood products that are sold in the U.S. adhere to the new standards. This includes hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished products and furniture that contain these products.
“We are carrying out important measures laid out by Congress to protect the public from harmful exposure of this widely used chemical found in homes and workplaces”, said Jim Jones, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
EPA is also setting testing requirements to ensure that products comply with those standards, establishing eligibility requirements for third-party certifiers, and establishing eligibility requirements for accreditation bodies to be recognized by EPA that will accredit the third-party certifiers. The new rule includes certain exemptions for products made with ultra-low formaldehyde or no-added formaldehyde resins and new requirements for product labeling, recordkeeping, and enforcement provisions.
Some of the adverse health effects of formaldehyde include eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and cancer.