The U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management (OMB) recently announced that it has received the revised draft formaldehyde emissions regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for final review.

OMB has up to 90 days to review the regulation before returning it to EPA for final publication.

According to a press release from the Composite Panel Association (CPA), this development suggests that EPA is now more likely to publish the final regulation before the end of the Obama administration. EPA’s initial draft regulation called for a one-year grace period from enforcement following final publication, but that could change in the final draft.

During its review period, OMB will meet with key stakeholders for input that may inform any final comments back to EPA. CPA will request a meeting to reinforce industry’s position on points raised during the comment period.

In 2013, the EPA proposed two rules it says will help protect Americans from exposure to formaldehyde. The rules aim to ensure that composite wood products produced domestically or imported into the U.S. meet the formaldehyde-emission standards established by Congress.

According to EPA, its first proposal “limits the amount of formaldehyde that may be emitted from hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished goods sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured or imported in the U.S.”  The proposal also includes testing requirements, laminated-product provisions, product-labeling requirements, chain-of-custody documentation, record-keeping, a stockpiling prohibition and enforcement provisions in addition to “exemption from some testing and recordkeeping requirements for products made with no-added-formaldehyde resins.”

EPA says the second proposal “establishes a third-party certification framework designed to ensure that manufacturers of composite wood products meet the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) formaldehyde-emission standards by having their composite wood products certified though an accredited third-party certifier. It would also establish eligibility requirements and responsibilities for third-party certifier’s and the EPA-recognized accreditation bodies who would accredit them.”

In 2010, Congress approved the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (S. 1660). The bill directs EPA to regulate formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products under the TSCA, imposes key provisions of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rule at the federal level and gives the federal government authority to regulate formaldehyde in both domestic and imported wood products.

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