Environmentalists Seek Formaldehyde Exposure Limit | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: March 26, 2008

Environmentalists Seek Formaldehyde Exposure Limit

EPA is being petitioned to set national standard to protect public from wood-treatment chemical
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE

Environmental activists are urging EPA to set a national standard limiting the amount of formaldehyde that can be released by wood products used in homes. Long-term exposure to the toxic gas has been linked to cancer in humans.

The Sierra Club and about 20 other groups have petitioned the agency to adopt a standard recently finalized by California's Air Resources Board and apply it nationally. The state claims its regulations, which set strict limits on formaldehyde emitted from raw composite wood panels and finished wood products sold or used in California, will reduce emissions from these products by 57%—or 700 tons—per year by 2011.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, the Sierra Club says a national standard is necessary because no federal rules protect the public from formaldehyde exposure in their homes except the Department of Housing & Urban Development's manufactured housing standards.

"The HUD standards were adopted almost 25 years ago in 1984, and provide inadequate protection of human health," the letter says. "We now know that formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen with no safe level of exposure."

In February, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that 140,000 Gulf Coast hurricane victims would be relocated from their government-provided trailers after tests revealed high levels of formaldehyde in the units (Feb. 25, p. 9).

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