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9 of the Most Important Takeaways from the Toxic Substances Control Act and Title VI

In August 2016, Furniture Today published an article on the final rules of Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The regulation is overseen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the final act addresses formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. Read on to gain a better understanding of what the act intends to accomplish as well as insights on the latest addition.

  1. What is the Toxic Substances Control Act?

laboratoryAlso known as TSCA, the law makes it permissible for the EPA to enforce rules governing the use, production, transportation, and disposal of specific chemicals. The EPA can require all organizations handling toxic substances to keep thorough documentation of their use and testing procedures. Depending on the situation, the agency can also place restrictions on its use.

  1. What does the act include?

The act contains six titles. The first five address control of toxic substances, asbestos hazard emergency response, indoor radon abatement, lead exposure reduction, and healthy high-performance schools. Title VI, most recently amended, focuses on formaldehyde standards for composite wood products.

  1. Is the EPA the sole governing authority?

While the agency serves as the main regulator of the act, the EPA may give states the right to oversee their own enforcement of the law, with some limitations. Permitted states can develop accreditation and certification programs that fulfill some parts of the statute. The programs must reduce risk and safeguard the standards set forth by the TSCA. The same courtesy is extended to tribes. However, the act does not explicitly state tribe eligibility in developing and implementing statute programs.

  1. Which chemicals are impacted?

Title I restricts the sale, transfer, and distribution of mercury. Title II impacts asbestos and discusses remediation programs. Title III limits indoor radon levels to a quantity that cannot exceed outdoor ambient levels. Title IV requires all homes to be void of lead-based paints. Lead is also a part of Title V, which helps schools integrate environmental health programs to combat lead use. Title VI restricts the amount of formaldehyde used in hardwood plywood, particle board, and medium-density fiberboards. While not specific to a title, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are also banned from commerce use and distribution under the TSCA.

  1. How does Title VI impact the home furnishing industry?

composite chairsTitle VI will impact companies that produce finished goods stateside as well as those receiving imports. It requires documentation of the types of resins used in the creation of items. Based on the type, urea-formaldehyde (UF), no-added-formaldehyde (NAF), or phenol-formaldehyde (PF) resin, a company may be exempt from testing and certification processes.

  1. Who was involved in the creation of the final rule?

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AFHA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) played vital roles in solidifying Title VI. CARB partnered with the EPA to establish initial formaldehyde emissions requirements for composite wood products. AFHA advocated on behalf of its industry, educating EPA policymakers on how the regulation would affect fabricators and importers. Ultimately, the initially proposed law would halt furniture production for potentially unnecessary testing, and the delay would be detrimental to the sector. With the help of the alliance, the EPA was able to specify which resins truly required testing to reduce emissions.

  1. How many phases are covered in the final rule?

The TSCA involves two phases, the first of which includes four components. The first component excuses home furnishings manufacturers and importers if their laminated products are comprised of curved plywood, PS-1 and PS-2 structural plywood, synthetic face veneers, and oriented strand board. Those made with medium-density fiberboard or particle board that are then covered with laminated material require adherence to emissions rules one year from the date the title is enforced. The final two factors of the initial phase cover proper labeling and import certification.

The second phase does not go into effect until seven years after the title’s publication date. Companies utilizing NAF or PF resins to create products will remain exempt from testing and certification processes. Use of UF resins following the seven-year deadline will make it mandatory for a company to undergo testing and certification to ensure emissions are within a limit deemed reasonable by the EPA.

  1. What do industry professional anticipate will happen?

According to the vice president of regulatory affairs for the AHFA, fabricators will likely move away from using UF resins to avoid the need for testing and certification. As a result, a growth in products laminated with NAF and PF resins is expected.

  1. What should be expected moving forward?

Aside from the deadlines outlined in phases one and two, the law will be continuously reviewed by the AHFA to guarantee its stipulations are reasonable and do not negatively impact the sector. Industry professionals can expect assistance from the alliance in the form of an importer guide and compliance toolbox. A workshop, which will include EPA professionals, is slated for the future. Use of resources will give professionals a clear understanding of expectations so they can plan accordingly.

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