A bill the Senate passed on Monday would set standards for emissions of the chemical formaldehyde, commonly used in building materials and household products, which the EPA has linked to serious health risks.
By voice vote, the chamber passed the bill (S 1660) after adopting a substitute amendment offered by bill sponsor Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., that added several new provisions and changed some of the deadlines in the measure.
The bill would create a national emissions standard for formaldehyde in domestic and imported composite wood products, the most common source of the chemical in homes, according to the EPA. The standards would be based on the California Air Resources Board regulations and would apply to both finished and unfinished products.
“This legislation is pro-industry, pro-consumer, pro-environment and pro-public health,” Klobuchar said in a statement.
Indoor pressed wood products that often contain formaldehyde include particleboard, hardwood plywood paneling and medium density fiberboard, usually used for sub-flooring, shelving, cabinetry and furniture.
At room temperature, the chemical lets off an invisible gas, which can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; coughing and wheezing; fatigue; skin rash; and severe allergic reaction. The EPA also has reported that formaldehyde may cause cancer.
Klobuchar’s amendment, adopted Monday before the bill was passed, would push back to July 1, 2013, the deadline for the EPA to issue new regulations and revise importation regulations concerning composite wood products. The original bill would have set July 1, 2012, as the deadline for those new rules.
It also would require the EPA submit a report to Congress on its progress in establishing the regulations, within one year of the bill’s enactment, instead of by Dec. 31, 2010.
The amendment also adds language specifying emission standards in parts per million and adds to the list of products exempt from the standards. Certain windows, doors and garage doors that contain a low percentage of composite wood products would be exempt.
In the House, a companion measure (HR 4805) was favorably reported by the Energy and Commerce Committee in March. It is unclear which version of the legislation that chamber will choose to move forward with.