A recent 60 Minutes report found that Chinese-made laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators—the largest hardwood flooring retailer in North America—contains levels of toxic formaldehyde that may fail to meet safety and health standards
In 2010, Klobuchar, Crapo, and Matsui passed a law setting tough limits for formaldehyde emissions to protect consumers from potentially hazardous levels of formaldehyde in composite wood products; with the final regulations for the law now two years overdue, lawmakers call on the EPA to protect families nationwide by immediately finishing its regulatory process
WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of recent reports over potentially toxic laminate wood flooring being sold in the United States, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), along with U.S. Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA), today pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finish implementing bipartisan legislation they passed into law more than four and a half years ago to protect consumers from formaldehyde in wood products. A recent 60 Minutes report found that Chinese-made laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators—the largest hardwood flooring retailer in North America—contains levels of toxic formaldehyde that may fail to meet safety and health standards.
In 2010, Klobuchar, Crapo, and Matsui passed a law setting tough limits for formaldehyde emissions to protect consumers from potentially hazardous levels of formaldehyde in composite wood products. With the final regulations for the law now two years overdue, the lawmakers today sent a letter calling on the EPA to protect families nationwide by immediately finishing the regulatory process.
“No family should have to worry that the wood floors they walk on and their kids play on contain toxic chemicals that could make them sick,” Klobuchar said. “New reports that certain laminate flooring products may still contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde should be a serious wake-up call that spurs action to protect consumers. We already passed bipartisan legislation to beef up existing safety standards and guard against these types of toxins in wood products, and it’s well past time for the EPA to finish implementing our commonsense measure to keep homes and families safe.”
“The EPA’s continued delay in implementing a national formaldehyde standard is creating uncertainty for Idaho businesses and putting American producers at a disadvantage,” said Crapo.
“More than four years ago, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to protect the health of American families from the high use of formaldehyde in common household items. Unfortunately, it is clear that there are still too many products on the market that include this dangerous chemical,” said Matsui. “I join Senators Klobuchar and Crapo in calling on the EPA to immediately implement the law, and strengthen the safety standards so no American has to worry about the health impacts of formaldehyde in their everyday lives. It is time for the EPA to act.”
Formaldehyde is a chemical that is used in many products as an adhesive, bonding agent, or solvent. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse public health effects including eye, nose, and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and, in certain cases, cancer. The domestic wood products industry has already adopted voluntary standards to limit formaldehyde, but domestic products face competition from cheaper imported wood products that may contain high concentrations of formaldehyde. These imports have increased dramatically in the past decade, with China as the principal source.
The lawmakers’ bipartisan legislation directed the EPA to establish national standards for formaldehyde emissions in new composite wood products by January 1, 2013. The law has broad support from the wood products industry as well as environmental, health, and labor organizations.
The full text of the lawmakers’ letter is below:
Dear Administrator McCarthy,
During the 111th Congress, we sponsored the bipartisan Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act that was passed by Congress and was enacted into law by President Obama on July 7, 2010. This legislation set tough limits for formaldehyde emissions to protect consumers from potentially hazardous levels of formaldehyde in composite wood products and to ensure a level playing field for the U.S. timber industry.
This law is the result of several years of negotiations and has the support of all of the affected industries, as well as public health and environmental groups. That is why we are concerned that the implementing regulations for this legislation have not been finalized. The law required final promulgation of regulations no later than January 1, 2013. We are now two full years past that statutory deadline with action by your Agency still incomplete and there are reports that potentially hazardous products are still being sold in the United States, posing a risk to consumers and families.
It is important for American consumers and the wood products industry that we have a national formaldehyde standard for composite wood products in place as soon as possible. We urge swift action to complete this regulation that will protect consumers and set clear, enforceable standards for these products. We request that your Agency provide our offices with a timeline for completing the necessary rulemakings on formaldehyde in composite wood products. We also request an explanation for the delay in this rulemaking. Please provide this information to our offices by March 13, 2015. Thank you for your timely action on this important issue.