Regulatory Developments

EPA Issues Wood Products Rule Voluntary Consensus Standards Revisions

Companies subject to EPA’s December 2016 final rule establishing formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products should review a regulatory revision the Agency has issued involving voluntary consensus standards.

The 2016 rule set formaldehyde emissions standards for hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and finished goods containing these products, which are sold, supplied, offered for sale, or manufactured (including imported) in the United States. This rule included provisions relating to, among other things, laminated products, products made with no-added formaldehyde resins or ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde resins, testing requirements, product labeling, chain of custody documentation, and other recordkeeping requirements, enforcement, import certification, and product inventory sell-through provisions, including a product stockpiling prohibition.

The rule also established a third-party certification program for hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard and includes procedures for the accreditation of third-party certifiers and general requirements for accreditation bodies and third-party certifiers.

TSCA Title VI

Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which provided the EPA with the statutory authority to issue the formaldehyde emissions rule, directed the Agency to make use of voluntary consensus standards, which are technical standards (e.g., materials specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. Title VI also directed that certain specific consensus standards were to be adopted into the final regulations (e.g., two quarterly test methods, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E-1333-96 and ASTM D-6007-02, a quality control test method, ASTM D-5582-00, and various consensus standards that define specific composite wood products). In addition, the EPA selected other voluntary consensus standards for incorporation into the regulations.

14 standards

The Agency notes that following publication of the 2016 rule, multiple voluntary consensus standards that were incorporated by reference underwent changes. The new rule lists 14 consensus standards that have been either updated or withdrawn and superseded and replaced; each of these current consensus standards was incorporated into the emissions standards effective upon publication of the rule in the February 7, 2018, Federal Register (FR). The Agency adds that any future versions or updates to withdrawn/superseded standards will be announced by the EPA through a separate FR document with opportunity for public comment.

Older standards no longer apply

“The amendments regarding the voluntary consensus standards reflect the current voluntary consensus standards,” states the EPA. “To the extent that the regulation required regulated entities to demonstrate compliance according to outdated standards that have been updated, superseded, or withdrawn by their respective organization, this change relieves that restriction. This will avoid confusion over compliance, as the amended versions represent the current voluntary consensus standards in use.”

The new rule also includes a technical correction to allow panel producers to correlate their approved quality control test method to the ASTM E1333-14 test chamber or, upon showing equivalence, the ASTM D6007-14 test chamber.

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