Skip to main content

Fighting for Restrictions of Hazardous Formaldehyde in Wood Products

Fema Trailer

A FEMA trailer. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen that also causes or exacerbates respiratory ailments, and was blamed for numerous illnesses among Gulf Coast residents housed in travel trailers and mobile homes supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Mariel Carr Chemical Heritage Foundation / CC BY 3.0

What’s at Stake

Formaldehyde is a carcinogen that also causes or exacerbates respiratory ailments. The unlawfully-postponed standards limit the amount of hazardous formaldehyde gas that can be released from various types of wood products, including materials often used in emergency housing and inexpensive furniture.

Overview

Formaldehyde is used to bind plywood, particleboard and other wood products used in a wide array of consumer products, such as paneling, flooring, cabinets, furniture and recreational vehicles (RVs). It is a carcinogen that also causes or exacerbates respiratory ailments, and was blamed for numerous illnesses among Gulf Coast residents housed in travel trailers and mobile homes supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Congress passed in 2009—and President Barack Obama signed in 2010—a law requiring the EPA to issue a final rule by 2013, limiting formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products made, imported and sold in the United States. But EPA missed the deadline. Although EPA finally published the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards in December 2016, with compliance required one year later, the Trump administration extended the compliance deadlines in 2017 by one additional year.

The unlawfully-postponed standards limit the amount of hazardous formaldehyde gas that can be released from various types of wood products, including materials often used in emergency housing and inexpensive furniture.

Case ID

3531

Case Updates

February 16, 2018 | Legal Document

Formaldehyde in Wood Products Decision

Now before the Court are the motion for summary judgment filed by Plaintiffs Sierra Club and A Community Voice-Louisiana (“Plaintiffs”) and the cross-motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Scott Pruit, in his official capacity as the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). This action addresses whether the EPA’s most recent year-long delay in implementation of formaldehyde emission standards exceeds its statutory authority under the Formaldehyde Standards in Composite Wood Products Act. See 15 U.S.C. §2697 (the “Formaldehyde Act” or the “Act”).

October 31, 2017 | Legal Document

Formaldehyde in Wood Products Complaint

This action concerns two rules recently promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) implementing the Formaldehyde Standards in Composite Wood Products Act. 15 U.S.C. § 2697 (the “Formaldehyde Act,” codified as Title VI of the Toxics Substances Control Act (“TSCA”)). The first rule established emission standards for formaldehyde in composite wood products and associated testing and compliance mechanisms. 81 Fed. Reg. 89674 (Dec. 12, 2016) (the “Formaldehyde Rule”). EPA signed this rule in July 2016 and published it in the Federal Register on December 12, 2016. The second rule extended the Formaldehyde Rule’s compliance dates so that the first compliance deadline is December 12, 2018, one year later than the December 12, 2017 deadline in the Formaldehyde Rule and more than three years after the Formaldehyde Act directed EPA to require compliance. 82 Fed. Reg. 44533 (Sept. 25, 2017) (the “Formaldehyde Delay Rule”).