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April 24, 2015

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Monday, April 27, 2015
Updated: Friday, April 24, 2015
Formaldehyde levels, laminate flooring, deconstructive testing, and CARB rules -- topics once reserved for discussions at composite wood industry events, are now being discussed by investor, national and local media outlets. The March ’60 Minutes’ segment focused on allegations that testing of samples of laminate flooring purchased from Lumber Liquidators had formaldehyde emissions that exceeded California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) limits. The story and the resulting discussions have alarmed and confused customers, and attracted the interests of plaintiff lawyers. This situation, while challenging, also presents an opportunity to educate both your customers and suppliers.

IWPA supports the objectives of the formaldehyde air emission standards to protect the health of the public and we agree that the levels set in the CARB Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) standards are protective of public health. IWPA has worked with CARB to educate overseas manufacturers, importers and domestic consuming industries about the rules.

IWPA members who manufacture, import and sell composite wood products have spent considerable resources, both time and money, ensuring compliance. The interest piqued by the ’60 Minutes’ piece is an opportunity for these companies to show their dedication to their customers.

Too often questions about compliance can put businesses on the defensive. This is especially true when the media play “gotcha” in a cynical quest for exposure and controversial test methods, like deconstructive testing, are used. Rather than being defensive, take this as an opportunity to review your procedures and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Long before the national media expressed an interest in this matter, IWPA was providing resources on CARB compliance. IWPA staff travelled to California to participate in CARB’s Public Meetings on amendments to the formaldehyde ATCM. CARB and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff joined us at our 2013 World of Wood Annual Convention to update attendees about revisions to the CARB standard and the pending EPA rule. In recent months, CARB has agreed to work with IWPA as we develop guidance for importers.

In the meantime, we are waiting to see what form the final rule implementing the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products Act will take when EPA issues it later this year. As with the CARB standard, IWPA has been active in the public comment process, both on its own and as a member of the Federal Wood Industry Coalition. All companies will have to put in place new procedures when these new rules are issued.

Successful businesses see opportunities where others only see risk. By putting the procedures and systems in place that ensure compliance, and effectively communicating that you stand behind the safety of your products, you can rest easier knowing you have met your costumers’ highest expectations.

Tags:  Formaldehyde