New Formaldehyde Emissions Law

Article - July 19, 2010

President Obama recently signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act into law. What does this mean? Basically, the man-made products used to build furniture (plywood, MDF, particle board, etc..) contain certain amounts of formaldehyde. Generally speaking, the cheaper the manufacturing cost, the higher the level of formaldehyde. So if your house is full of inexpensive furniture or building materials from overseas, you could very well be exposed to a significant amount of off-gassing formaldehyde.

This new law establishes health standards to both domestic products and foreign imported materials. By January 1, 2013, all products sold in the US will have to meet a formaldehyde emission standard of 0.09 parts per million. On the surface, its sounds like a great idea. The fewer nasty chemicals the better, right? But these new stringent requirements will likely affect furniture prices across the board as compliance requires some re-tooling and experimentation. And of course, any forced change is a great excuse to charge more for a product. But I digress….

Fortunately, from what I’ve read, US companies have been implementing changes to decrease formaldehyde for a while now. As usual, California is ahead of schedule and if these companies want to sell products in California, they are already working on solutions. Tool-Rank.com has an article on how the California law is affecting companies like SKIL and Festool who use MDF in their products. But I won’t even pretend to know the ultimate affect this law will have on our domestic building materials companies. Will the increased production costs push them over the edge or will this simply level the playing field since the cheaper imports are subject to the same standards? I definitely don’t know the answers but I would love to hear your perspectives on this new law. Sound off! And please, no political rants.

Want to read a little more on this topic? Check out these related articles:
USA Today
American Chronicle