At room temperature, formaldehyde releases an invisible gas into the air. If breathed in at high concentrations, it can pose a health hazard. In fact, the EPA lists it as a “probable human carcinogen.”
The potential health hazards posed by high concentrations have led our domestic wood products industry to adopt voluntary standards to limit the chemical, but we need to establish national emission standards. This will ensure certainty for manufacturers and safeguard consumer health. The measure would apply to new products; secondhand products and antiques are exempted.
Under the measure, by January 1, 2012, products sold in the U.S. would have to meet a formaldehyde emission standards of about 0.09 parts per million, making it the toughest standard in the world. Third-party testing and certification are also required to ensure that products with formaldehyde comply with the national standards.
The wood products industry has already given broad support, as well as environmental, health and labor organizations. This legislation is pro-industry, pro-consumer, pro-environment and pro-public health.