Amendments Proposed for Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products Regulations

The Canadian government is planning to introduce amendments to the Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products Regulations to address certain oversight and improve clarity for regulated parties in the secondary wood manufacturing industry. The amendments are aimed at rectifying drafting errors, clarifying record-keeping requirements, aligning with changes to the United States Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and addressing stakeholder concerns.

The Regulations, which came into force on January 7, 2023, aim to reduce health risks associated with indoor formaldehyde exposure by setting limits on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat and worsen asthma symptoms, particularly in children. The Regulations prohibit the import, sale, or offer for sale of composite wood products exceeding the established limits.

The drafting oversight identified in the Regulations pertains to the quality control testing requirements for composite wood panel manufacturers and record-keeping obligations for downstream regulated parties. The proposed amendments intend to clarify the requirements for quality control testing, simplify record-keeping for finished goods along the supply chain, and ensure alignment with the changes to the U.S. TSCA Title VI adopted on February 21, 2023.

Regarding quality control testing, the amendments would specify that routine testing carried out in production mills does not need to be performed by an accredited laboratory, aligning with the TSCA requirements. Only primary testing would require accreditation. The proposed amendments also aim to reduce the burden on regulated parties by simplifying the record-keeping obligations for importers and sellers of finished goods. Instead of collecting declarations for each type of composite wood panel incorporated into finished goods, a single manufacturer’s attestation affirming the use of certified panels would be required.

Minor amendments are also proposed to clarify certain requirements and correct technical aspects in the Regulations. These include changes related to non-compliant lots, declarations’ language requirements, contact person information, and the location of certain records. Additionally, the proposed amendments would align the Regulations with recent U.S. EPA changes to the TSCA Title VI Rule, updating voluntary consensus standards and incorporating changes to establish equivalence with ASTM emission testing methods.

The government has engaged in consultations with key stakeholders from the composite wood products industry, addressing concerns raised by associations such as the Composite Panel Association, Retail Council of Canada, and others. The proposed amendments aim to address these concerns and maintain regulatory alignment while minimizing compliance costs and administrative burdens on regulated parties.

The anticipated costs for regulated parties are expected to be minimal, as the proposed amendments align with the original policy intent and do not impose additional compliance expenses. Small businesses, in particular, stand to benefit from the amendments, as they would see reduced burdens in terms of reporting and record-keeping requirements. The amendments aim to ensure consistency and alignment with TSCA Title VI, benefiting Canadian composite wood product manufacturers, sellers, and importers operating in the U.S.


Summary of Amendments to the Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products Regulations:

  1. Accredited Laboratory: The definition of an accredited laboratory is added, specifying the conditions for accreditation related to formaldehyde emissions testing from composite wood panels or laminated products.


  1. Directive: The definition of Directive is updated to refer to the specific directive concerning testing for formaldehyde emissions published by the Government of Canada.


  1. Non-application for Installers: Installers of composite wood products are exempted from certain regulations, as they are not considered sellers of the products.


  1. Retention of Attestation: Sellers or manufacturers must retain a copy of the attestation related to the product types used in component parts or finished goods.


  1. Frequency of Testing: Testing and verification of formaldehyde emissions must be conducted four times a year during a 90-day period, with specific timeframes outlined.


  1. Formaldehyde Emissions Limits: The permissible formaldehyde emissions limits are specified for composite wood panels and laminated products.


  1. Re-test and Notice of Non-compliance: Procedures are defined for re-testing non-compliant lots and notifying purchasers of non-compliance within 72 hours.


  1. Repeal of Section 17: Section 17 and its heading are removed from the regulations.


  1. Accredited Laboratory Access: The requirement for an accredited laboratory or access to one using specific testing methods (ASTM D6007 or ASTM E1333) is added.


  1. Contents of Declaration: The contents of the declaration of certification are specified, including the name of the certifier and manufacturer, as well as addresses and contact information.


  1. Attestation: Manufacturers can produce an attestation for the component parts or finished goods they manufacture if a declaration of certification has been produced for each relevant product type.


These amendments aim to regulate formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, ensure proper testing and verification, and provide clarity on documentation and compliance procedures.

See the full proposed amendments in the Canadian Gazette.


Tyler Holt is the Editor of Wood Industry / Le monde du bois magazine. He has a master’s degree in literature and publication, and years of experience in the publishing and digital media industry. His main area of study is the effect of digital technologies on industrial and networked production.

You might also like