Monday, October 21, 2013

Industry group slams EPA’s formaldehyde regulations

Plywood and particleboard often emit
formaldehyde, which was linked to cancer.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has filed formal comments, bashing proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations as arbitrary and reaching well beyond the intent of Congress.

The draft rule in question would create new standards for formaldehyde emissions released during the manufacture of certain wood products, such as plywood and particleboard.

Plants, animals and humans naturally produce small amounts of formaldehyde, though exposure to large amounts could lead to cancer, according to the EPA. The resins used when making composite wood products often contain formaldehyde.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which requires the agency to draft regulations to address the health threat.

The ACC supports a national standard, but favors an approach in line with regulations adopted in California. The EPA’s rule, which sat under review at the White House before it was proposed in May, is more restrictive than the standard applied by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Jackson Morrill, director of ACC’s Formaldehyde Panel.

“EPA’s proposed rule…is not based on the best available science, greatly overstates any tangible health benefits, and will send confusing messages in the marketplace,” Morrill said. “EPA discounts the scientific evidence of a threshold for health effects, disagrees with findings from international authoritative bodies and presents valuations that are not based on biological evidence.”

The ACC argues that major strides have been made to bring formaldehyde emissions in line with the California standards, including the development of ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins.

Congress, the group charges, envisioned a system equivalent to the California Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM).

“EPA has exceeded Congressional intent by proposing a regulation that is not technology-based and that differs significantly from the CARB ATCM,” Morrill said.

The groups formal comment period for the draft rule closed this week. The EPA will consider all submissions before finalizing the regulations.

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