Volume 9, Issue 7 - July-August 2008

Energy and Environmental News 

EPA Delays Rulemaking on Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products

Moulding and other building product manufacturers nationwide that use hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) in their products can rest easily for a little longer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is delaying a rulemaking process on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. 

The original petition was received on March 24, 2008, from 25 organizations and approximately 5,000 individuals, including the Sierra Club, and the petitioners are concerned about risks to human health and the environment from exposure to formaldehyde in composite wood products, including hardwood plywood, particleboard and MDF. The petitioners are asking the EPA “to assess and reduce these risks by exercising its authority under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) section 6(a) to: adopt and apply nationally the formaldehyde emissions regulation for composite wood products recently approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB); and to extend the regulation to include composite wood products used in manufactured homes. EPA must either grant or deny a TSCA section 21 petition within 90 days of receipt of the petition, which, for this petition, is June 21, 2008.”

The agency issued its decision on June 21 in a prepublication version of the Federal Register, titled “Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products; Disposition of TSCA Section 21 Petition [FRL-8371-5].”

In fall 2008, EPA plans to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to initiate a proceeding. As part of the ANPR process, EPA will engage stakeholders to contribute to obtaining a better understanding of the available control technologies and approaches, industry practices and the implementation of CARB’s ATCM.

With respect to the petitioners’ request that EPA use TSCA section 6 to apply the CARB rule to manufactured homes, EPA notes that HUD has regulations governing formaldehyde emission levels from plywood and particleboard materials installed in manufactured homes … HUD is in the process of reviewing proposed changes to these regulations to include medium-density fiberboard, among other things. HUD is also currently reviewing a proposal to amend its manufactured housing regulations governing formaldehyde to include the standards set forth in the CARB regulation.

Tom Julia, president of the Composite Panel Association, commented on the EPA’s delayed rulemaking. “Rather than an outright denial or acceptance of the rulemaking petition, EPA’s announcement suggests they are striving to take a methodical, prudent and politically astute approach to the merits of federal regulation.” www.carbrule.org 

Canadian Manufacturers Learn About Proposed Changes to Canada’s Energy Star® Program
As many U.S. manufacturers have concerns about some of the proposed changes to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Star program, so do Canadian manufacturers who learned more about proposed changes to their country’s program during the recent annual meeting of the Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association in Quebec. Steve Hopwood of the Office of Energy Efficiency briefed members and asked for input regarding the proposed changes.

As with the DOE’s proposals, changes to the Canadian program would also take a phased-in approach.

“2010 won’t be much of a leap but 2013 will be a major leap requiring more technology,” said Yvan Houle, president of a window fabricating company in Canada.

Addressing this issue, Hopwood said that his office is looking into new technologies and, when pushed by members as to what these are, he said the office is looking at aerogels and vacuum glazing.

“The industry has been talking about aerogels for 15 years and it’s still not here,” said Houle.

Hopwood reported that the labeling guidelines are also under review. For example, the office is considering one expanded label similar to an NFRC label. With this proposal, there would be one label on a window instead of a few different ones; however, many members weren’t too fond of the idea, as some groups, such as pre-hangers, would have to manage anywhere from 300 to 500 labels.

“That seems very unmanageable for the door industry,” said one attendee.

While Hopwood made many references to what the DOE is doing in the United States, he was surprised by one of its recent announcements.

“I was surprised the DOE came out with a non-zone model for swinging doors,” said Hopwood. “We hadn’t even considered that.”


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