Sept. 11 – A bill introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) would limit the allowable formaldehyde emissions in composite wood panel products to about 0.09 parts per million, the same level as those recently enacted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the most stringent in the world. (Read EcoHome’s previous coverage of the CARB regulations, which are being enacted in two phases, here.)

Composite wood panel products include end products as well as raw materials used to make items such as cabinetry and furniture. Like the CARB regulations, the national standard created by S-1660 would require third-party certification; manufacturers, foreign and domestic, would be required to comply by Jan. 1, 2012.

According to Klobuchar’s Web site, “the domestic wood products industry has already adopted voluntary standards to limit formaldehyde, but domestic products face competition from cheaper imported wood products that may contain high concentrations of formaldehyde.” 

“High levels of formaldehyde are a health threat,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This bill will establish national standards that, when fully phased-in, will be the strongest in the world.  These standards will both protect public health and ensure an even playing field between domestic wood products and foreign imports.”

Like with the CARB regulations, the Composite Panel Association is supportive of the bill; the CPA joined the Sierra Club in a petition to the EPA to develop national regulation of formaldehyde emissions.

“We believe a national standard is the right thing to do, that California has provided a starting point, and that the bill now before Congress represents a rare bipartisan opportunity to serve the American public,” CPA president Tom Julia said in a statement.

It’s likely that end users won’t see a significant shift in supply, since most manufacturers are already in the process of modifying products and processes to meet the new CARB regulations.

Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor of EcoHome.