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Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Updated

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is updating the formaldehyde standards for composite wood products by addressing certain technical issues and aligning its rule with the California Air Resources Board Airborne Toxic Control Measures Phase II programme. The EPA expects that these revisions will streamline compliance programmes and help to ensure a continued smooth transition for supply chains to comply with the standards.

Most of the referenced changes are highly technical specifications related to testing for formaldehyde emissions in the wood composite manufacturing process. For example, the EPA is updating the references for two International Organisation for Standardisation/International Electrotechnical Commission voluntary standards incorporated by reference in EPA rules (i.e., ISO/IEC 17025-2005(E) is being replaced by ISO/IEC 17025-2017(E) and ISO/IEC 17011-2004(E) is being replaced by ISO/IEC 17011-2017(E)).

The agency is also updating the “non-complying lot provisions” to clarify that they apply to fabricators, importers, retailers and distributors who are notified by panel producers that composite wood products were found to be non-compliant after the products were fabricated into component parts or finished goods. Specifically, if a panel is still in panel form, fabricators should work with the panel producer to isolate, treat and retest the panel, as needed. While the EPA understands that in some cases the management of panels by a downstream entity can be a logistical challenge, it indicates that “the onus is on the fabricator or downstream entity” to be able to track all panels back to the shipped lot by a labelling method.

The EPA is also clarifying that composite wood products and finished goods containing composite wood products must be labelled at the point of manufacture or fabrication; if imported, the label must be applied to the product as a condition of importation. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the term “manufacture” includes import, meaning that regulated composite wood products or finished goods containing such products imported into the customs territory of the United States must be accompanied at the time of importation by a label.

The EPA notes that foreign-trade zones are not considered U.S. customs territory for purposes of customs laws but are considered U.S. customs territory for purposes of other federal laws. Any composite wood products or finished goods containing such products must therefore be labelled upon importation in order to be admitted into an FTZ. Prior to release from CBP custody at a port of entry, a TSCA Section 13 import certification is required for all regulated composite wood products, as well as component parts and finished goods fabricated using composite wood products.

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