Clarity Needed for Formaldehyde Rule, NAHB Tells EPA

Robert Criner

Former NAHB Remodelers chair Robert Criner stops for a photo by OMB’s front door.

NAHB volunteers and staff met with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) May 9 to talk about the Federation’s concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products rule.

The rule establishes formaldehyde emission standards, product testing, and product tracking requirements for composite wood products that are not clearly spelled out, NAHB says.

The lack of clarity and overly broad nature of the proposed rule mean that remodelers don’t yet know what requirements have to be followed, former NAHB Remodelers chair Robert Criner told the federal officials.

The draft final rule was sent to OMB for review on March 28 with EPA looking to finalize the regulation sometime this month.

NAHB urged OMB to make sure that the final rule defines key terms like “major modification” and simplifies and clarifies potentially burdensome, duplicative reporting and recordkeeping requirements resulting from the language in the proposed rule.

NAHB also reminded OMB that the statute required EPA to include certain undefined exemptions, which are missing from the proposed rule. Depending on how they’re defined, these exemptions could keep at least some builders and remodelers from being subject to the rule.

While OMB has up to 90 days to review the final regulation, it could be released back to the agency at any time. OMB review is generally one of the last steps in the process before a regulation is finalized for signature by the Administrator and publication in the Federal Register. For more information contact Tamra Spielvogel at 800-368-5242 x8327.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Kevin Kelly says:

    Robert, thank you and the other members for your work on this critically important issue.

  2. Simon Phillips says:

    Are there any regulations re: formaldehyde in kitchen cabinetry made by the Chinese?

    • NAHBNow says:

      The federal regulations have not been finalized yet, so currently there are no national regulations. One thing to note also: if/when the regulations are finalized, they are not specific to country of origin; they cover activities (i.e., importing) and wood type (which would determine if the cabinet was covered or not). The answer to your question might also be different if you’re inquiring about national regulations or those specific to California. You can contact Tamra Spielvogel with any additional questions or comments.

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