07/01/2010

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USA set to approve formaldehyde standards

The bill, passed by the Senate earlier this month, will establish the first national standards for formaldehyde in composite panel. Standards are similar to those already in place in California. The bill is intended to protect consumers from hazardous levels of formaldehyde, used as a chemical bonding agent in composite panel. It will apply to domestic and foreign-made products. The bill establishes emission standards for hardwood plywood, medium density fibreboard and particleboard that is sold in the USA. Composite wood is in many household products such as furniture, cabinets and flooring.
Under the proposed federal legislation, by 1 January 2013, products sold in the USA will have to meet a formaldehyde emission standards of about 0.09 ppm, making it the toughest standard in the world. Testing will be undertaken by third-party compliance and enforcement federal agencies.
California began phasing in its formaldehyde rule last year. As the furniture business has slowed, the state has issued extensions to give furniture factories and retailers more time to clear their inventories of non-compliant products.
While US-based mills will meet the standard, some industry experts suggest that the law will require massive oversight to monitor the information from international factories. A second challenge with the law will be establishing reasonable testing and compliance provisions, according to the American Home Furnishings Association. The organisation said that if raw board component parts are properly regulated and tested, downstream users including manufacturers and retailers should not have to test finished goods, such as furniture or cabinets.

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