NAHB Helps Improve, Clarify Formaldehyde Rule

stack of particleboardThe final Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products rule has been released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The rule establishes formaldehyde emission standards as well as product testing and tracking requirements for composite wood products.

And thanks to the work of NAHB members and staff, the final rule includes some significant and notable changes for the renovation and construction industry, including clarification of certain terms to exclude renovation and construction activities.

NAHB met with EPA and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in May during OMB’s review of the draft final rule to discuss the Federation’s concerns — the only group representing the industry to do so — and EPA listened.

Former NAHB Remodelers Chair Robert Criner highlighted the lack of clarity and overly broad nature of the proposed rule, pointing specifically to confusing definitions for key terms. Remodelers and builders, he said, were unsure which requirements they would be governed by.

As a result of NAHB’s concerns, EPA again reviewed the intent of Congress when it asked for the new standards — and the agency agreed that remodeling work is not the kind of activity that Congress intended to regulate.

EPA added specific exceptions in the final rule to both the definition of the terms “fabricator” and “retailer” to ensure it is clear that remodelers are not intended to be covered.

In addition, EPA clarified the meaning of the term “finished good” to help address concerns regarding the scope and applicability of the rule. According to EPA, Congress intended to regulate goods that are “produced through a manufacturing process at a manufacturing facility, not objects like buildings or other structures that are constructed on site and become a permanent addition to real property.”

This means that new construction built on site will not be subject to the regulation, but the rule may still apply to mobile home manufacturing (NAICS code 321991) and prefabricated wood building manufacturing (NAICS code 321992), such as decorative particleboard and plywood.

EPA highlighted these changes in the preamble of the final rule, as well as in the rule’s accompanying EPA Fact Sheet, stating that “By regulating the manufacture of a product, the regulation works to ensure that only compliant composite wood products enter the marketplace.”

NAHB had reminded OMB in May that the statute required EPA to set a de minimis level of regulated content, defining what goods would not be subject to the regulations. The final rule clarifies that finished goods that do not contain regulated content exceeding 144 square inches, based on the surface area of the largest face, are not subject to regulation.

NAHB staff continues its review, and a full summary of the rule will be posted shortly. The rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected within 10 working days from it when it was signed on July 27.

For more information, contact Tamra Spielvogel at 800-368-5242 x8327.


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  1. Bob Hanbury says:

    Thanks for the hard work. Less complex and targetted regulations can be effective but not broad brushes.

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