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Does The New EPA Formaldehyde Rule Apply To You?

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) recently announced that it will hold a workshop in January on the new federal formaldehyde emission standard – a regulation that may catch some home furnishings companies by surprise.

The January 18-19 workshop will be held at The Conference Center at Guilford Technical Community College in Colfax, N.C., approximately 10 minutes from Piedmont Triad International Airport.

While many case goods companies are signed up to attend the workshop, only a few upholstery companies have registered. “This raises the concern that upholstery companies may not realize the new rule applies to them, if they are using hardwood/plywood frames,” noted AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Bill Perdue.

Perdue said he is also concerned about smaller companies that do not ship products into the State of California and, therefore, are not familiar with the California formaldehyde standard known as “CARB,” on which the federal standard is based. The learning curve for these companies will be especially steep, said Perdue.

“The compliance timeline in the federal rule is generous. It gives companies time to figure this out. But you don’t want to get caught asleep at the wheel,” he cautioned.

Top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) officials are confirmed participants in the conference program, along with experts in the areas of import declarations, domestic and international third-party certification, supply chain management for composite wood products and compliance document management.

“We don’t expect to be able to assemble this lineup again. This is a unique opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of the new rule and its impact on your business,” said Perdue.

In July the EPA issued its final rule to regulate formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products used as component parts in finished goods sold in the United States. The rule, which added Title VI to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), impacts both domestic and imported finished goods.

Providing an overview of the federal rule at the January workshop will be Erik Winchester of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, which was responsible for drafting the standard and its implementation guidelines.

Additional confirmed presenters for the two-day workshop include:

  • Jackson Morrill, president of the Composite Panel Association, who will address the North American structure for accreditation bodies and third-party certifiers.

  • Travis Snapp, founder and president of Benchmark International, covering the international structure for accreditation bodies and third-party certifiers.

  • Michael Sullivan of Womble Carlyle, explaining Section 770.3 labeling, including developing and implementing a system for demonstrating compliance for fabricators, importers, distributors and retailers.

  • Mark Duvall, Beveridge and Diamond PC, addressing the development and implementation of measures to demonstrate compliance with the TSCA import certification – critical for any company importing composite wood products.

  • Jill Witter, secretary and chief compliance and legal officer of Lumber Liquidators, who will describe the public firestorm that erupted in 2015 after her company was featured on “60 Minutes,” and how that affected the company’s CWP documentation, testing and compliance structure.

  • Lynn Baker, California Air Resources Board, who will describe the similarities and differences between the CARB and EPA rules.

In addition, two resin suppliers, Hexion and Ecosynthetix, have been invited to provide an overview of emerging technology in NAF (no-added-formaldehyde) resins. Hexion is a leading industry supplier of resins for plywood, particleboard and fiberboard for furniture, and Ecosynthetix produces a bio-based, NAF binder used to manufacture OSB, particleboard and medium density fiberboard.

Eugene, Ore.-based Benchmark International is a sponsor of the January workshop. The accredited, independent laboratory provides inspections, testing and certification services for wood, concrete and steel products.

The workshop also has been promoted by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, the International Wood Products Association, the Composite Panel Association, the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association and the Home Furnishings Association.

“This is an opportunity for regulatory officials to educate a large and diverse supply chain,” Perdue stated. “Interested industry executives are urged to sign up now to ensure a seat.”



More about the AHFA: The American Home Furnishings Alliance is based in High Point, N.C., and represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors and nearly 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. AHFA serves as the residential furniture industry’s advocate on all legislative and regulatory matters and leads development of voluntary environmental, product safety and construction standards for home furnishings.

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