S. 1660: Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act

S. 1660

Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

June 23, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

S. 1660 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on September 10, 2009.

Bill Summary

S. 1660 would apply the California formaldehyde emission standard to hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particle board that is sold, supplied, offered for sale, or manufactured in the U.S. The bill would, however, include several exemptions (such as for antiques, secondhand furniture and military plywood).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be required to issue regulations to implement that standard no later than January 1, 2013, and revise regulations relating to the importation of products covered under this legislation no later than July 2013. EPA also would also be required to provide annual reports to Congress on the status of implementing the standard. Finally, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development would be required to update regulations relating to formaldehyde emission levels of products installed in manufactured homes.


This bill intends to use available technology-based emissions control measures to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products.

Formaldehyde is the most reactive of the aldehyde family of chemicals and exists at room temperature as a colorless gas with a strong, pungent smell.  Formaldehyde is commonly used in the U.S in the production of resins used in the manufacturing of composite wood products.  The highest levels of airborne formaldehyde have been detected in indoor air, where it is released from various composite wood consumer products, such as cabinetry and household furnishings.

In the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Congress identified formaldehyde as a hazardous air pollutant for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was required to establish emission standards for major and area sources under the Clean Air Act.  With the exception of Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations regarding manufactured homes, formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products are not currently regulated by the federal government.

In July 1992, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment issued a Staff Report on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, finding that formaldehyde is a toxic air contaminant with no safe level of exposure and proposed technology-based emissions standards.  


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that S. 1660 would cost about $3 million over two years assuming appropriated funds. Requiring manufacturers, sellers, suppliers and importers of composite wood products to meet a national standard for formaldehyde emissions constitutes a private-sector mandate.