Frequently Asked Questions
This page last reviewed August 25, 2015
I. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Categories
(updated August 2015)
- Applicable Products
- Emission Testing
- No-added formaldehyde (NAF) and Ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) products
- Public Health
- Resin Chemistry
- Third Party Certification (TPC)
(HWPW = hardwood plywood; HWPW-VC = hardwood plywood veneer core; HWPW-CC = hardwood plywood composite core; PB = particleboard; MDF = medium density fiberboard)
II. Questions and Responses
- Applicable Products
- What composite wood products are subject to the Composite Wood Products Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM)?
The ATCM establishes formaldehyde emission standards for panels of
HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, MDF, and thin MDF (< or = 8 mm). The ATCM
requires that finished goods and laminated products made with the
materials subject to the formaldehyde emission standards, that are
sold, offered for sale, supplied, used, or manufactured for sale in
California, be made with materials that comply with applicable emission
standards (e.g., Phase 2).
- What specific products are not covered by the ATCM?
Materials that are not covered by the ATCM include, but are not limited
to hardboard, natural wood, and certified structural plywood, certified
structural panels, structural composite lumber, oriented strand board,
glue laminated timber, prefabricated wood I-joist, finger jointed
lumber, cellulosic fiber insulating board or "composite wood products"
used inside of new vehicles, rail cars, boats, aerospace craft or
aircraft (please also refer to question #24).
- What are examples of finished goods?
Finished goods mean any good or product other than a panel, containing
HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, MDF, or thin MDF. Finished goods include, but are
not limited to furniture, cabinets, shelving, countertops, flooring,
moldings, caskets, base boards, rosettes, corbels, etc.
- Who is subject to the ATCM? The
ATCM applies to manufacturers, distributors, importers, fabricators,
and retailers of the products identified in question 1, as well as
third party certifiers of panel manufacturers.
- Does the ATCM apply to block board?
No. While block board is considered a type of HWPW, emission standards
were only established for HWPW-VC and HWPW-CC. Block board is made with
a core made of solid wood strips, not veneer core or composite core.
- Are molded products, such as toilet seats, subject to the regulation?
If the products (toilet seats) are compression molded, meaning that flat panel products (such as MDF, PB, or HWPW)
are not used in manufacturing of these products, then the product is exempt from the regulation.
6A. If a company that produces molded toilet seats wants to have their product tested by a CARB-approved third party certifier (TPC) for formaldehyde emissions, should these products be labeled to let consumers know that the product is compliant? There are no prohibitions on a company voluntarily having a CARB approved TPC test a product for formaldehyde emissions. However, these products should not be labeled as CARB compliant and they should not include a statement of CARB compliance on their label because they are not subject to the regulation. Nevertheless, they could use labels that indicate the product is "low formaldehyde" or some other terminology that does not refer to the CARB regulatory requirements.
chair backs and seats made by molding wood flour and resin into the
desired shape considered particleboard and do they require emission
testing? No, such products would not be considered to be a composite wood product under the ATCM.
- Does the ATCM apply to low-density fiberboard (LDF) or high density fiberboard (HDF)?
Yes, depending on how they are marketed and used and if they meet the
ANSI standard for MDF. The ATCM applies to MDF that meets the ANSI
standard for MDF, A208.2-2002. Because the ANSI standard for MDF is
based on performance and is independent of density, some products
marketed as LDF and HDF are also subject to the ATCM. Products that are
labeled as LDF or HDF, meet the ANSI A208.2-2002 standard and are
marketed for use in typical MDF applications such as furniture
manufacturing, shelving, molding, and kitchen cabinets, would be
subject to the ATCM.
- Does the ATCM apply to insulating fiberboard or cellulosic fiber insulating board?
No. Cellulosic fiber insulating board or insulating fiberboard made to
the specifications in ASTM C208-08a include sound deadening board, roof
insulation board, ceiling tiles and panels, wall sheathing, backer
board and roof deck. These products are not made with synthetic (such
as formaldehyde-based) resins and do not meet the definition of
HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, MDF or particle board which are subject to the
emission standards in the ATCM.
- The regulation is applicable to
hardwood plywood. However, what if the plywood is made with a softwood
like spruce? Is it then exempt? The ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2004 standards
that apply to HWPW allow for the use of hardwood or decorative softwood
face veneers. Hence, if softwood is used as the face veneer, the HWPW
would be subject to the ATCM (please also refer to question #11).
- A plywood product is made with phenol
formaldehyde (PF) resin and softwood face veneers. It meets the
specifications for PS 1-09 structural plywood and is labeled as such.
The product is used as paneling and wainscoting in both interior and
exterior applications. Is it exempt from the ATCM? The product
would be exempt if it is certified to PS-1 (Voluntary Product Standard
for Structural Plywood). If the product is not certified to PS-1, it
would need to be third party certified to meet the Phase 2 emission
standard for hardwood plywood.
- Are decorative wood pieces (such as corbels, moldings, rosettes, transition blocks, etc.) subject to the regulation?
Decorative wood pieces made out of solid wood are not subject to the
regulation. However, if these decorative wood pieces (such as corbels,
moldings, rosettes, transition blocks, etc.) are made out of products
that contain HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, or MDF, then these goods would be
subject to the regulation as a finished good.
- Is wood packaging (e.g., pallets, crates) subject to the ATCM?
No. While wood packaging may contain composite wood products (i.e.,
HWPW, MDF, or PB), and be considered "finished goods" subject to the
ATCM, it was not CARB's intent to regulate wood packaging as "finished
goods." By "wood packaging" we mean pallets, skids, boxes, crates,
reels, spools and containers used for handling, sorting, storing,
shipping, and transporting goods.
- Does the ATCM apply to molded pallet blocks?
No. Molded pallet blocks that are made in individual molds (i.e., not
cut from a flat panel) and made specifically as molded pallet
components are not subject to the emission standards for HWPW, MDF, or
PB in the ATCM (also see question #13 regarding pallets).
- Is packing material or "dunnage" subject to the ATCM?
No. Packing material, also referred to as "dunnage" is essentially
loose, waste material such as composite wood products that are used for
packaging or covering shipments in order to protect cargo from damage
during transport. Dunnage is not considered to be a finished good and
is not subject to the ATCM.
- Does the ATCM apply to rental items such as rental furniture?
Furniture that is rented prior to the effective dates of the emission
standards is exempt, because such furniture is considered to be "used
goods," which are exempt from the definition of finished goods. At the
end of the rental period, the furniture may be sold as used furniture.
However, if a furniture rental company purchases new furniture after
the effective dates of the emission standards, for purpose of renting
that furniture in California, the new furniture must be made with
materials that comply with applicable emission standards.
- My company supplies just a few products
that contain a very small amount of composite wood products to
California retail stores. Would CARB take size, volume or quantity of
composite wood products used for finished goods into account? The
regulation does not allow exemptions for de minimus use of the
regulated products in finished goods. The regulation applies to all
products, (e.g., picture frames, plaques, toys, etc.) containing HWPW,
PB, or MDF, and there is no minimum amount that is exempt. However, the
ATCM does include de minimus use exemptions for windows and doors only,
see Section 93120.7 (b)(1).
- Does the ATCM apply to curved or bent plywood?
Curved plywood is excluded from the definition of HWPW and is not
subject to the ATCM. Due to the difficulty differentiating between
finished products that were made using plywood made in a curved
mold/press and plywood made from panels that were bent, CARB exempted
both curved and bent plywood. Curved/bent plywood comprises a
small segment of the composite wood products, for which there is not a
standard test method for measuring formaldehyde emissions.
- Does the ATCM apply to bamboo flooring?
It depends on the type of bamboo flooring. Bamboo floorings are
typically made in two basic forms: solid bamboo planks or as engineered
Solid bamboo flooring is generally manufactured into three different types: vertical grain solid strip, flat (horizontal) grain solid strip, and strand woven bamboo. Vertical grain bamboo is comprised of narrow bamboo strips, which are glued together on edge and pressed together. Flat grain (horizontal) bamboo is made up of thin, flat strips of bamboo stacked on top of each other and pressed together. Strand woven bamboo is made from thin, shredded bamboo strands or fibers, which are mixed with resin and pressed together. Floorings consisting solely of bamboo veneers (manufactured in the manner listed above) are not subject to the ATCM. The definition of HWPW in the ATCM specifies the use of hardwood or decorative softwood face veneers. Since bamboo is a grass, plywood made using bamboo face veneers is exempt from the regulation at this time. Since solid bamboo floorings are not subject to the ATCM, such products are not required to be labeled.
Flooring that consists of a bamboo veneer laminated to a lumber-core platform is also not subject to the regulation, as the platform does not meet the definition for either HWPW-VC or HWPW-CC (please also see question #21).
Engineered bamboo flooring consists of a bamboo veneer (e.g., strand woven bamboo is cut into thinner slices) affixed to a composite wood platform (medium density fiberboard, hardwood plywood, or particleboard). Such products are considered laminated products and subject to the ATCM. The composite wood platform material contained in the bamboo flooring is required to be certified to meet the Phase 2 formaldehyde emission standard; however, the overall flooring product does not have to be third party certified. Since engineered bamboo floorings are subject to the ATCM, such products are required to be labeled. (For additional information on labeling refer to Section F of the FAQs).
19A. What if bamboo is used in a flooring product, such as bamboo fibers for PB or MDF panels? Bamboo particles or fibers used to make PB or MDF falls into the definition of cellulosic materials used to make these products. Therefore, bamboo PB and bamboo MDF are required to be third party certified.
I am a retail store owner and I acquire displays to be used by me and
not sold to the public, do the displays need to be made from CARB
certified composite wood products? Yes. Displays containing
composite wood products are finished goods and must meet the
requirements for finished goods. All displays (finished goods)
sold/supplied into California must meet the ATCM requirements.
Note: Fabricators that are selling and/or supplying finished goods for display purposes to a downstream client, (even though these items are not intended for resale by that downstream client) are required to made with materials that are compliant with applicable emission standards and a statement of compliance must be provided on the bill of lading or invoice for products intended for sale or supply to California. Fabricators fall under the applicability provision in the ATCM § 93120 (c) (4) available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2007/compwood07/fro-final.pdf.
- Are lumber core products subject to the regulation?
No. HWPW with a lumber-core is exempt from the regulation. The ATCM has
two HWPW standards, neither of which includes lumber-core: one for
HWPW-VC and one for HWPW-CC. HWPW-VC does not have a lumber-core (made
of wood strips), and HWPW-CC is defined in the regulation as being made
with a PB, MDF, or PB or MDF in combination with veneer (combination
- How are warranty stocks (also known as replacement parts) considered under the regulation?
Existing stocks* of replacement parts may be sold indefinitely. No
labeling is required on such parts. After the applicable sell-through
periods have ended, then any new replacement parts must be made of
Replacement parts, as well as components parts that are sold and/or supplied as individual items (e.g., in a situation where a consumer is buying a replacement part such as a cabinet door), are subject to labeling requirements.
If component parts and/or warranty stocks that are supplied to a fabricator (e.g., from a fabricator of component parts) and will be used in a finished good, component parts do not need to be labeled, but the invoices or bills of lading must include the statement of compliance to indicate that the shipment of components parts or replacement parts are made of complying composite wood products.
*Existing stocks include pre-Phase 1 and Phase 1 products; however, the sell-through provision for replacement parts/warranty stocks will be subject to change and further clarified via the amendment process of the ATCM.
- Is MDF made by a "wet-forming" process subject to the ATCM?
No. MDF mats can be manufactured by either wet or dry forming
processes. In "wet-forming," the fibers are carried in a water
suspension and the product is often made without an adhesive. In "dry
forming," the fibers are transported by air and a resin is added to
form the fiber mat. The ATCM defines MDF as "... panels composed of
cellulosic fibers made by dry forming and pressing of a resinated fiber
mat (ANSI A 208.2-2002)." As MDF panels made by "wet-forming" are not
specified in the ATCM, they are not subject to the requirements of the
- The ATCM excludes certain types of
structural plywood from the definition of composite wood products,
namely those meeting the Voluntary Product Standards for Structural
Plywood (PS 1) and Wood-based Structural-use Panels (PS 2). Are other
types of structural plywood, such as those made to comply with
standards other than PS 1 or PS 2, also excluded from the definition of
composite wood products? CARB excluded structural plywood products
that conform to the PS 1 or PS 2 standards that are used for a variety
of structural applications in North America. PS 1 and PS 2 structural
plywood were excluded from the definition of composite wood products in
the ATCM for reasons of public safety and also because they are made to
be exterior grade products. To provide the water resistance necessary
for exterior applications, structural plywood is made with phenol
formaldehyde (PF) or polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (pMDI)
resins, both of which are low emitting with regard to formaldehyde, as
opposed to interior-grade industrial panels typically made with
urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins. We recognize that "structural plywood"
is made in other parts of the world to meet standards other than PS 1
or PS 2. In cases where we are able to identify products with
structural and resin properties equivalent to certified PS 1 or PS 2
structural plywood, they will also be exempt from the requirements of
Product standards for composite wood panels in countries outside of the U.S. in some cases do not clearly differentiate between panels made for structural vs. nonstructural applications. For example, structural plywood standards vary around the world, owing to differences in region-specific building codes, market needs, and manufacturing methods. In North America, structural plywood is commonly used for building structures, while in other countries clear distinctions are not made with respect to structural plywood for interior vs. exterior applications. Typically, exterior grade products that meet the PS 1 or PS 2 standards are made using PF or pMDI adhesives to comply with prescribed bond durability requirements that products made for interior applications cannot meet.
While standards in other countries are not directly comparable with the requirements specified for North American PS 1 and PS 2 structural plywood, we believe that products that are equivalent to PS 1 or PS 2 structural plywood, and certified as such, should also be exempt from the requirements of the ATCM. At this time, staff has determined that structural plywood that is certified to the following standards is not subject to the formaldehyde emission standards:
- Australian "AS/NZS 2269"
- European "EN 636 3S" (including CE label)
- Canadian CSA (Canadian Standards Association) "CSA O121" Douglas fir plywood, "CSA O151" Canadian softwood plywood, "CSA O153" Poplar plywood, and "CSAO325" Construction sheathing
The exemption applies only to products that are marked as compliant with those standards specified above, so as to clearly distinguish them as exempt products for purposes of the ATCM. (For the list of structural panels exempt from the ATCM, please refer to question #2).
- Australian "AS/NZS 2269"
- Would structural plywood that is a
"downfall" (products that do not meet all the required properties of
PS1 or PS2 structural plywood) be exempt from the ATCM? No,
structural plywood "downfall" is not exempt from the requirements of
the ATCM. From a formaldehyde emissions standpoint, it is likely that
downfall is also a low-emitting product, but from an enforcement
perspective, the sale and supply of uncertified and unmarked structural
plywood products to California creates an unenforceable situation since
downfall products are not labeled and unverifiable. As a side note,
downfall products may be used for packaging applications (e.g., for use
in making pallets, crates, boxes, etc.) which are not subject to the
requirements of the ATCM (please see question #13).
- Does the ATCM apply to LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber)?
No. The Structural Composite Lumber products (ANSI A. 190.1 Structural
Glued Laminated Timber), standard includes LVL products which are
exempt from the composite wood products ATCM.
- Does a veneer core platform affixed to a laminate that is composed of a thin MDF fall under the regulation?
If a product has HWPW-VC as a platform with thin MDF affixed to the
face and back, then this product is considered to be a laminated
product under the regulation. This laminated product, made with third
party certified composite wood products (the HWPW-VC platform and thin
MDF laminates) does not need to be tested by a CARB-approved third
party certifier to be compliant. Hence, the company that affixes the
thin MDF to the HWPW-VC platform is a fabricator of a laminated
product, and not a panel manufacturer.
- What composite wood products are subject to the Composite Wood Products Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM)? The ATCM establishes formaldehyde emission standards for panels of HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, MDF, and thin MDF (< or = 8 mm). The ATCM requires that finished goods and laminated products made with the materials subject to the formaldehyde emission standards, that are sold, offered for sale, supplied, used, or manufactured for sale in California, be made with materials that comply with applicable emission standards (e.g., Phase 2).
- Emission Testing
- Who is required to emission test their products?
Manufacturers of HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, MDF, and thin MDF are required
to conduct emission testing of their products. The objective of the
emission testing is to verify that the composite wood products produced
comply with the emission standards on an on-going basis, to ensure the
accuracy of production control and to ensure that low-emitting products
are sold in California. Fabricators of finished goods are not subject
to third party certification requirements and do not have to emission
test their finished goods or laminated products to verify compliance
with the ATCM.
- Why does CARB test composite wood products in finished goods?
The ATCM requires that composite wood products (e.g., hardwood plywood,
particleboard, and medium density fiberboard) contained in finished
goods (e.g., flooring, furniture, and cabinets) comply with the
formaldehyde emission standards. To verify compliance, CARB tests
emissions of composite wood products as well as the emissions of such
products contained in finished goods.
- How does CARB test emissions of composite wood products in finished goods?
CARB uses ASTM D 6007-02 - Standard Test Method for Determining
Formaldehyde Concentration in Air from Wood Products Using a Small
Scale Chamber, specified in section 93120.9(c) of the ATCM, to verify
that composite wood products contained in finished goods comply with
the emission standards.
Pieces of composite wood products contained in finished goods (e.g., laminate flooring that consists of a laminate affixed to a medium density fiberboard core material, or a cabinet door that consists of particleboard with melamine laminate affixed to the face and back of the door) are prepared to expose the composite wood product for emissions testing. CARB's sample preparation procedures are documented in: "Standard Operating Procedure for Finished Good Test Specimen Preparation Prior to Analysis of Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products," which can be found at the following link: http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/outreach/compwood_sop_fg_decon_091313.pdf.
There is some variability and uncertainty associated with sample preparation and emissions testing. This is not unique to testing of composite wood products. CARB staff accounts for this when considering whether or not enforcement action should be taken.
- Are fabricators or retailers of finished goods required to conduct testing?
No. Some companies have chosen to periodically test composite wood
products from their suppliers. The ATCM requires fabricators of
finished goods to use compliant composite wood material in their
finished goods; to label their finished goods or boxes containing
finished goods; and to provide documentation (i.e., invoices or bills
of lading) with a statement of compliance to their customers. The ATCM
also requires fabricators and retailers to keep records to document the
steps they have taken to ensure that the goods that they make or sell
comply with the ATCM. Fabricators and retailers are in violation of the
regulation if they sell products that violate the emission standards.
- What defines a reasonable correlation
between a manufacturer's quality control data and a third party
certifier's compliance testing data? Third party certifiers are
required to establish a correlation (i.e., linear regression equation)
between a manufacturers' routine quality control testing data and their
third party certifier's primary or secondary test method data. All
correlations must be based on a minimum of five data pairs. CARB relies
on third party certifiers to establish reliable correlations to ensure
on-going compliance of composite wood products offered for sale and
supply to California.
- Will CARB supply correlations for small-chamber-to-large-chamber and desiccator-to-large-chamber?
No. The correlations will be calculated for manufacturers of composite
wood products based on the primary or secondary test method data
received from their third party certifier (see FAQ section J), under
the requirements established by CARB.
- The Dynamic Microchamber (DMC) is used
extensively in the composite wood industry. Will it be CARB approved
using the InterScan sensor? The dynamic Microchamber (DMC) and the
new GP™ DMC are both approved for use as alternate small scale test
methods for conducting formaldehyde emission testing for composite wood
products. For further information, please refer to the following link
- What would constitute an acceptable demonstration of compliance for a manufacturer of a very low emitting product?
The ATCM contains special provisions for CARB-certified manufacturers
that produce composite wood products with very low formaldehyde
emissions. The special provisions are provided for composite wood
products made with no-added formaldehyde (NAF) or ultra-low emitting
formaldehyde (ULEF) resins. To receive CARB approval as a NAF or ULEF
product manufacturer, applicants are required to submit three months of
quality control test data for NAF products and six months for ULEF
products, along with primary or secondary method test data provided by
their third party certifier. Upon CARB approval, NAF and some ULEF
products are exempt from on-going testing for two years; other ULEF
products may be granted a reduction in frequency for on-going quality
control testing for two years. Please refer to the following link for
additional information concerning the NAF/ULEF requirements: http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/naf_ulef/naf_ulefapp.pdf (Attachment A).
testing of finished furniture products conducted for non-CARB
formaldehyde emission standards be considered reasonable prudent
precautions under the rule? No. Testing of furniture products for
compliance with non-CARB emission standards (e.g., European
formaldehyde standards) would not constitute reasonable prudent
precautions. A finished good could be made with non-complying composite
wood, but due to the application of a laminate or a coating, may be
able to pass the non-CARB emission standard. Under the rule, only
actions taken to ensure that compliant composite wood products were
used to make the furniture being offered for sale or supply to
California would be considered to be reasonable prudent precaution.
- Can a manufacturer use a small emissions chamber (ASTM D 6007) as a routine quality control test method?
Yes, but a small chamber test data needs to be correlated to paired
primary or secondary test method collected by their third party
certifier. Manufacturers may deem a small emissions chamber as
equivalent to a primary method (section 93120.9), but their data cannot
be used as a demonstration of product compliance in their quarterly
tests for certification purposes. Quarterly tests for purposes of
certification must be conducted by their third party certifier.
- What is the difference between primary testing, secondary testing, and the quality control testing conducted by a manufacturer?
Manufacturers of composite wood products are required to conduct small
scale quality control testing of their products at the manufacturing
plant to ensure that their panels do not exceed applicable emission
standards. Appendix 2 of the ATCM states that manufacturers have three
options for conducting quality control testing: a desiccator (ASTM D
5582-00), a small chamber (ASTM D 6007-02), or an alternative small
scale test that can be shown to correlate to the primary or secondary
test methods. The primary and secondary test methods are used by third
party certifiers to verify compliance of manufacturers with applicable
emission standards. Certifiers work with manufacturers to establish
correlations between the manufacturer's small scale quality control
tests and the primary or secondary method tests. Certifiers have the
option of using either the primary or the secondary method. The primary
method is defined as the large chamber test method (ASTM
E-1333-96(2002)). The secondary test method consists of operating a
small emissions chamber (ASTM D 6007-02) that has been deemed
equivalent to a large chamber following the procedures specified in the
- For hardwood plywood with a composite
core (HWPW-CC), does the core need to be tested and certified as
complying with the applicable emission standard? Unless the core is
being offered for sale separately, it does not need to be tested. Only
the HWPW-CC needs to be tested and certified as complying. However, if
the HWPW-CC is being sold as having been made with no-added
formaldehyde (NAF) resins, the NAF designation applies to the entire
composite wood product (the core and the resins used to affix the
veneers) and in that case the core would need to be tested as part of
the NAF product demonstration.
- Who is required to emission test their products? Manufacturers of HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, MDF, and thin MDF are required to conduct emission testing of their products. The objective of the emission testing is to verify that the composite wood products produced comply with the emission standards on an on-going basis, to ensure the accuracy of production control and to ensure that low-emitting products are sold in California. Fabricators of finished goods are not subject to third party certification requirements and do not have to emission test their finished goods or laminated products to verify compliance with the ATCM.
- How does CARB enforce the composite wood products ATCM?
CARB's approach to enforcing the composite wood products ATCM is
consistent with our approach to enforcing all of our regulations. CARB
conducts inspections at various points in the product distribution
chain from manufacturers to retailers. Inspections may include review
of products for compliance with labeling requirements, review of
documentation, and/or collection of samples for emissions testing.
Additional investigation may result from an initial inspection. Other
enforcement activity may include requests for documents and use of
other investigative tools. Enforcement options include administrative,
civil, and/or criminal penalties.
- When enforcing the regulations, will
CARB require the retailer to produce chain-of-custody documents even if
product emissions are compliant? Would this be a punishable violation
of regulations? Yes. Recordkeeping is an important part of the
ATCM. In the course of inspecting a retailer, we can ask to see the
chain-of-custody documents that verify the emission characteristics of
the products being offered for sale.
- In what form and how long are records required to be kept?
Records must be kept in electronic or hard copy form for a minimum of
two years and provided to CARB or local air district personnel upon
- How will CARB police wood products sold into California via the Internet?
CARB's enforcement staff will purchase products from Internet retailers
and if through enforcement testing the product is found to be
noncompliant, CARB will track the paper trail for the noncompliant
product back through the distribution chain (e.g., manufacturers,
distributors, importers, or fabricators) to determine who is in
violation of the ATCM.
- How will CARB enforce composite wood products that are produced overseas?
In the case of noncompliant products being imported from overseas, it
is likely that in most cases the importer will ultimately be held
responsible as they are bringing the goods into California. However,
importers, as well as distributors, retailers, fabricators, or
manufacturers can all be held responsible for the products that they
sell or supply in California. Parties bringing composite wood products
into California are responsible for knowing and following the law. In
the event of a violation of the emission standards, everyone from the
board manufacturer to the retailer and all parties in between are
potentially liable until the enforcement investigation determines
otherwise. There is no product certification or chain of custody that
insulates anyone from an enforcement action. CARB enforcement staff
will evaluate each situation on a case by case basis.
- 45A.Will an importer who happens to be a good faith purchaser, obtaining all the required
documentation be at more fault than a distributor who purchases from a domestic mill?
No. Any party bringing noncompliant goods into California is subject to enforcement action by CARB.
Importers of noncompliant foreign goods are equally liable as distributors of noncompliant domestic products.
45B.Does it matter if the importer is importing raw board or a finished product (furniture)? All composite wood products, including raw boards and finished goods containing composite wood products, are required to comply with the ATCM and will be equally enforced.
order to be best prepared for a potential inspection, what type of
information should fabricators and retailers have available for CARB
enforcement staff? With regard to potential inspections,
fabricators and retailers need to keep records to show they've taken
"reasonable prudent precautions" to ensure compliance. These records
need to be kept in hard copy or electronic form and must show that the
fabricators and retailers instructed their suppliers of the need for
complying products. The fabricators and retailers must also keep
records to show that their suppliers have stated that the products
being provided comply with the formaldehyde emission standards.
- How will CARB test pre-assembled case
goods made of composite wood products (e.g., a small table) that are
painted, with no edges unsealed? CARB will purchase case goods,
deconstruct them, remove the paint, and test the exposed composite wood
product surface using our enforcement test method. CARB staff has
developed the sample preparation protocol to be followed to remove the
layer of paint or laminate, and then will determine if the composite
wood product in the case good complies with applicable standards or
- We make furniture using structural
plywood, which is not visible in the finished furniture. What records
do we need to keep to demonstrate that we are not using regulated
composite wood products (PB, MDF, HWPW)? Structural plywood that
meets either the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
PS 1-07 or PS 2-04 standard is excluded from the definition of
composite wood products in the ATCM, and no records are required to be
kept by the ATCM. However, fabricators would be advised to keep
invoices to show that the composite wood they use is structural plywood
and not HWPW (for more information concerning structural plywood,
please refer to question #24).
- How does CARB enforce the composite wood products ATCM? CARB's approach to enforcing the composite wood products ATCM is consistent with our approach to enforcing all of our regulations. CARB conducts inspections at various points in the product distribution chain from manufacturers to retailers. Inspections may include review of products for compliance with labeling requirements, review of documentation, and/or collection of samples for emissions testing. Additional investigation may result from an initial inspection. Other enforcement activity may include requests for documents and use of other investigative tools. Enforcement options include administrative, civil, and/or criminal penalties.
- Are manufactured homes or mobile homes subject to the ATCM?
The ATCM does not apply to HWPW or PB manufactured, sold, supplied for
installation, or installed in manufactured homes subject to the United
States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations.
However, the ATCM does apply to any MDF or thin MDF products installed
in manufactured homes designated for sale in California.
- Military is exempt. What about federal
government institutions such as UNICOR that manufactures furniture for
government offices and the military? Military specified plywood is
exempt from the ATCM. If UNICOR is manufacturing furniture for
government offices, they would be considered a fabricator under the
ATCM for products sold to California and must comply with the
- The ATCM includes an exemption for windows. Does the exemption include bay windows?
Yes. Requirements for fabricators include an exemption for windows if
the window product contains less than five percent by volume of HWPW,
PB, or MDF combined, in relation to the total volume of the finished
window product. The definition of a window specifies that a frame
includes jambs, stiles, sashes, and rails, and excludes sills, window
headers and window seats. Because sills, window headers, and window
seats are excluded from the definition of a frame, they cannot be
factored into the exemption. Therefore, if sills, window headers, and
window seats contain composite wood, the composite wood must comply
with the ATCM and the finished window product must be labeled
- Other than windows, what other exemptions does the ATCM contain?
Exemptions have also been provided for exterior doors and garage doors
if these products contain less than three percent by volume of HWPW,
PB, or MDF combined, in relation to the total volume of the finished
door product made from composite wood products. The ATCM does not apply
to finished goods sold outside of California or to products subject to
federal requirements governing the construction of manufactured homes
(please refer to question #2).
- Are manufactured homes or mobile homes subject to the ATCM? The ATCM does not apply to HWPW or PB manufactured, sold, supplied for installation, or installed in manufactured homes subject to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations. However, the ATCM does apply to any MDF or thin MDF products installed in manufactured homes designated for sale in California.
- Will CARB accept European E0 or E1 boards as meeting the Phase 2 standard?
No. While CARB's Phase 2 standards are comparable to some E0 and E1
emission levels, differences in the test methods and the amount of
in-plant quality assurance testing done in Europe varies considerably
from CARB's requirements. Even if boards meet the E1 standard, the
mills producing those boards would need to be certified by an
independent, CARB-approved third party certifier and have test data to
show that it also meets the CARB Phase 2 standard using the primary or
secondary test method, if they are offered for sale in California as
panels or in finished goods. During the implementation of the Phase 2
standards, composite wood products are required to have emission levels
well below E1 to be acceptable for sale in California.
- Will CARB accept European E0 or E1 boards as meeting the Phase 2 standard? No. While CARB's Phase 2 standards are comparable to some E0 and E1 emission levels, differences in the test methods and the amount of in-plant quality assurance testing done in Europe varies considerably from CARB's requirements. Even if boards meet the E1 standard, the mills producing those boards would need to be certified by an independent, CARB-approved third party certifier and have test data to show that it also meets the CARB Phase 2 standard using the primary or secondary test method, if they are offered for sale in California as panels or in finished goods. During the implementation of the Phase 2 standards, composite wood products are required to have emission levels well below E1 to be acceptable for sale in California.
some upholstered products, the frame is cut from plywood, but the
products are covered in material. How should such products be labeled
as compliant finished goods? It is up to the fabricator to decide
how to label the upholstered product - the label (e.g., tag and
statement on the invoice) could be affixed with a staple and must
clearly state that the product is legal for sale in California.
labeling the packaging on bulk products permitted? For example, can a
single label be attached to the outer packaging material of a skid of
work surfaces? The ATCM requires that a label shall be applied on
"every finished good produced, or on every box containing finished
goods." One label on the box will comply with the ATCM; however, we
strongly recommend that both the box and finished good be labeled.
the label identifying the manufacturer's name and the date of
manufacture be a separate label from the label that states that the
product was made with Phase 2 compliant hardwood plywood,
particleboard, and/or medium density fiberboard? Separate labels
can be used to identify fabricator name, production date, and that the
finished good was made with complying composite wood products, as long
as the labels are all visible (e.g., inside a cabinet door or on the
back of a credenza).
- If an unboxed or blanket-wrapped chair, desk, and shelving unit were packed on a single skid, would a single label still apply?
If three different finished goods were all packed on a single skid,
each would need a separate label. (Each product might contain different
- What is the
expectation for labeling if the finished product contains components
from various board manufacturers? Hypothetically, an order for 10,000
bookcases involves 3 mills and 5 dates of board manufacture (i.e.,
production). What level of traceability is acceptable? Is it sufficient
to list the mills that provide board product for any of those 10,000
bookcases? The label for finished goods only require the fabricator
name, production date, and a marking or brief statement to denote that
the product complies with the applicable Phase 2 emission standard in
section 93120.2 (a) (or that the composite wood products in the
finished good were made with no-added formaldehyde (NAF) or ultra-low
emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins. The fabricator label does not need
to include the name of the panel manufacturer. The fabricator needs to
keep records of panel purchases to demonstrate that all composite wood
products used in the finished good comply with the ATCM. Records on the
amount of composite wood used to make finished goods would need to
reasonably match the amount of complying composite wood purchased from
composite wood product mills.
- When can a
manufacturer of particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium density
fiberboard officially designate their composite wood products as
CARB-compliant (or refer to their low-emitting products) on their
boards? Manufacturers cannot officially label their products as
CARB-compliant, or refer to their product as low-emitting, until they
have been approved to do so by a CARB-approved third party certifier
and, in the case of products made with NAF or ULEF resins, by the CARB
- Is there a "set label" that should be applied on finished goods labels?
There is no set requirement or restriction on the label material in the
regulation. The regulation requirements on labeling do not require the
use of any logo. These provisions are contained in section
93120.7(d)(1), and require that the label include: the name of the
fabricator, the date of production and a short statement to indicate
Phase 2 emissions are being met in the finished good. For more
information on labeling requirements, including example labels, please
refer to our enforcement advisory regarding labeling, available at
receive bundles of composite wood products such as hardwood plywood,
which are broken down to several customers. What labeling requirements
do we have? If a group of items are labeled and then divided and
distributed separately, each separate item must be labeled with the
same information as required on the original label. It would be
acceptable if you take the label that was affixed to the original
bundle or shipping pallet, photocopy the label and affix one to each
- A final finished product
may be composed of numerous small pieces of wood, potentially from
various vendors. How much detail is required to document the chain of
custody? That is, can chain-of-custody be established for each batch of
material used before the different pieces are combined into the final
product? Or does each individual piece in each final product need a
chain of custody? At a minimum, records must be kept documenting
purchases of compliant composite wood products – HWPW, PB, and MDF
Where different pieces are combined in a final product, fabricators
should be able to demonstrate how many final products were made using
the regulated materials, so a determination can be made if an
appropriate supply of raw materials was purchased to make the reported
amount of final product.
In the case where there are multiple suppliers of MDF, for example, records need to show that an appropriate amount of final goods were made from the amount of MDF purchased for use. It is important that the supplier(s) can be identified. For a given volume of finished goods, fabricators must be able to demonstrate the amount of MDF, etc. that was used, and records showing that enough compliant MDF was purchased to make the amount of final products that were sold.
are following California's Proposition 65 and OSHA requirements for
formaldehyde warnings on all products containing such. Does this also
present additional issues with CARB enforcement? No, that is a
separate issue from the composite wood products regulation. The
regulation is clear as to how products containing Phase 2 compliant
materials need to be labeled, and if there is no label, then we must
assume that the product does not contain compliant materials.
the fabricator's name be on the product or box, if traceability is
apparent through use of visible batch code or other identification?
Due to the nature of the import business, many importers and
distributors avoid sharing their suppliers with potential competitors.
The regulation requires that the fabricator's name, and the date the
finished good was produced, is applied as a stamp, tag, sticker, or bar
code on every finished good produced, or on every box containing
finished goods, provided that it is destined for sale or supply in
California. The wood products industry often uses brand names or other
means to conceal trade secrets such as which manufacturer or fabricator
makes a certain product. In recognition of this, as an accepted
practice, ARB will allow some flexibility in the labeling requirement
for manufacturer or fabricator name. It is the intention of the ATCM
that the name be included on the label to easily identify the party
responsible for the formaldehyde emission characteristics of the board.
It is acceptable for a distributor/importer to replace an original
label with a label listing their company name as long as all other
information required on the original label is retained. It should also
be noted that if an importer or distributor replaces a label on a
finished good, then they assume the liability for the finished good as
- What labeling and notification language is acceptable for fabricators of finished goods containing composite wood products?
The regulation requires fabricators to clearly label finished goods
containing HWPW, PB or MDF. CARB strongly recommends labeling of both
the finished good and the box the finished good is contained in. Labels
must include, at a minimum, the following information:
- fabricator's name,
- date the finished good was produced, and
statement of compliance to denote that the composite wood product or
finished good complies with the ATCM. Finished goods made with all NAF
or all ULEF based resins shall be labeled as such.
The intent of the statement must be clear in indicating compliance with the ATCM and should refer to California, or CARB, and include section 93120. For example, a statement of compliance may read "California 93120 Compliant for Formaldehyde."
- What labeling requirements apply if a
finished good only contains NAF products? Products need to be labeled
as "NAF" (example: "product was made with NAF resin")
labeling requirements apply if a finished good only contains ULEF
products? Products needs to be labeled as "ULEF" (example: "product was
made with ULEF resin")
- What labeling
requirements apply if a finished good contains NAF and ULEF products?
The label need to indicate that the product was made with "NAF and ULEF
resin" (example: "product was made with NAF and ULEF resin")
labeling requirements apply if a finished good contains NAF/ULEF and
Phase 2 products? The label should indicate that the finished good
contains products that were made with materials that meet Phase 2
emission standard and products containing NAF/ULEF resins ('product
contains Phase 2 products and NAF/ULEF products)
- Should fabricators label their finished goods as "CARB-exempt" if they use products containing NAF/ULEF-based resin? No. NAF/ULEF products are not exempt; rather they are subject to different requirements (exemption from third party certification or reduced testing requirements) as compared to Phase 1/Phase 2 products.
- Do component parts need to be labeled?
Components parts or replacement parts that are sold and/or supplied as
individual items to anyone in commerce (individual finished goods,
e.g., in a situation where a consumer is buying a replacement part such
as a cabinet door or warranty replacement item) are subject to labeling
Component parts and/or replacement parts, that are supplied to a fabricator (e.g., from a fabricator of component parts), and will be used in a finished good, do not need to be labeled but the invoice or bill of lading must include the statement of compliance to indicate that the shipment of components parts or replacement parts are made of complying composite wood products.
- What is meant when a third party certifier number is on the label of a finished good?
Fabricators of finished goods (e.g., flooring, cabinets and furniture)
are required to use compliant composite wood material, but are not
required to be third party certified. When a fabricator puts a third
party certifier (TPC) number on a finished good label, they are stating
that all composite wood products contained in the finished good were
produced by a panel manufacturer that was certified by that TPC. A TPC
number is not required to be on a finished good label. The presence of
a TPC number on a finished good label does not mean that a TPC has
tested the finished good or that a TPC has verified that all composite
wood material contained in a finished good complies with the emission
- In some upholstered products, the frame is cut from plywood, but the products are covered in material. How should such products be labeled as compliant finished goods? It is up to the fabricator to decide how to label the upholstered product - the label (e.g., tag and statement on the invoice) could be affixed with a staple and must clearly state that the product is legal for sale in California.
- No-added formaldehyde (NAF) and Ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) products
make a veneered raised panel door. If the MDF core meets the NAF/ULEF
(no-added formaldehyde/ultra-low emitting formaldehyde) standard, but
the splices in the veneer are glued with UF, will it still meet the
NAF/ULEF standard? The "NAF" and "ULEF" designation applies only to
manufactured HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, or MDF panels and not to finished
goods, such as doors.
- The CARB regulation will drive an
increase in use of NAF adhesives. Some of these adhesives emit
substances that are irritating, harmful, and/or hazardous to the human
body. An example is free MDI radicals - what is being done to address
concerns like this? The ATCM is based on emissions performance
standards, which does not dictate resins to be used. We cannot predict
whether the use of NAF adhesives will increase as a result of the
regulation, given the technological advancements with low-emitting urea
formaldehyde resins (ULEF). When a manufacturer applies to CARB for
certification, we will review the chemical composition of the NAF resin
to determine if it qualifies for a NAF designation, we may also seek
additional information from the applicant to clarify our assessment of
the candidate NAF composite wood product. Furthermore, manufacturing
facilities may also be regulated as stationary sources of emissions.
The use of a particular resin, such as MDI, may be regulated by the
local or state agencies that issue permits to stationary sources or
regulate occupational exposure to chemicals.
- Would a phenolic-formaldehyde (PF)
platform (for example PB or MDF core) overlaid with hardwood veneer
with PVA glue be considered a NAF product? No. The NAF designation
refers to HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, and MDF panels made entirely with a NAF
adhesive (products made with PF resin are not qualified as NAF).
However, such composite core plywood could be tested and would probably
meet the emissions requirements to be considered a ULEF product.
- Is there concern that manufactured
products using NAF/ULEF adhesives will act as sponges for formaldehyde
when stored next to manufactured products using UF adhesives (e.g., Big
Box retail storage)? No. We will be able to determine if the
NAF/ULEF products were made with the proper resins, and if the retailer
has the proper documentation on-site for both the NAF and ULEF products
they offer for sale. In addition, the sample preparation conditioning
requirements of ASTM D 6007-02 (small chamber) and ASTM E 1333-96(2002)
(large chamber) are designed to address contamination by other
products, by achieving a steady state emission rate prior to measuring
the formaldehyde from the NAF/ULEF product.
- Will CARB randomly test product from
manufacturers that are using NAF/ULEF adhesives that have exemptions
from the Executive Officer? Yes. The integrity of the program
depends on consumers having certainty that the products meet the low
emission standards and there is an effective compliance program.
- Can a mill that's been approved to
produce NAF/ULEF panels for sale in California also manufacture
non-NAF/ULEF panels for non-California use? Mills can choose to
produce products not subject to the California standards for
non-California customers, but could not label those products as legal
for sale or use in California. Moreover, they should inform their
customers that if they intend to sell their products to California,
they should purchase California compliant composite wood products to
make those goods.
- What are the third party certification requirements for panel manufacturers that produce NAF/ULEF products?
Manufacturers of "no-added formaldehyde" (NAF) products have to apply to CARB to be approved as a NAF manufacturer.
Emissions data must be included in the application. If the application is approved by CARB, the product manufacturer
would be exempt from the TPC requirements for two years, but still subject to field inspection and audits to verify
their use of NAF resins. Manufacturers of ultra-low emitting formaldehyde resin (ULEF) products would also have to
apply to CARB to be approved as ULEF manufacturer along with providing emissions data with their application. Once
the application is approved by CARB, the ULEF manufacturer may be exempt from the TPC requirements for two years or
allowed to test their products less frequently; however, they would be subject to field inspection and audits to
verify their use of ULEF resins. NAF and ULEF approvals are granted for two-year periods and must be renewed accordingly.
- I make a veneered raised panel door. If the MDF core meets the NAF/ULEF (no-added formaldehyde/ultra-low emitting formaldehyde) standard, but the splices in the veneer are glued with UF, will it still meet the NAF/ULEF standard? The "NAF" and "ULEF" designation applies only to manufactured HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, or MDF panels and not to finished goods, such as doors.
- Public Health
emissions are significantly lower today compared to say 20 years ago on
average. Why regulate composite wood products particularly when most
raw board is finished or laminated that encapsulates formaldehyde?
Studies show that formaldehyde emissions occur from both laminated and
un-laminated boards and that current exposures still result in a public
health threat. In our view, until the formaldehyde content of the board
is reduced, the health risks from exposure to formaldehyde continue to
exist. In the interest of public health protection, action is needed to
lower formaldehyde contents from composite wood products, which have
been identified as major source of formaldehyde in the context of total
daily exposure to the general public.
- What is the target population you are trying to protect? If it is the end users, wouldn't finished goods
be the only products to regulate? Why target raw panels that will be laminated (industrial grade)?
The target population is the citizens of California. Because large
amounts of formaldehyde are released over time from composite wood
products made with UF resins, the best solution for reducing public
exposure is to reduce the amount of formaldehyde emitted by composite
wood products, which is aligned with the principal of "pollution
prevention." In doing this, the amount of formaldehyde emitted in
California will be lowered over the useful life of the raw panel or
finished product (i.e., decades), regardless of whether the product is
laminated or not.
- What are the specific goals of the proposed regulations and lower formaldehyde emissions?
Improved air quality? By what measure will it be improved? Reduced risk of cancer? By what percent?
The specific goal of the proposed regulation is to reduce formaldehyde
emissions from HWPW, PB, and MDF through the application of Best
Available Control Technology (BACT), in consideration of technological
feasibility and cost. Improved air quality is a resulting benefit, and
implementation of the Phase 2 standards are projected to lead to a
reduction in statewide formaldehyde emissions of 500 tons per year.
Reduced risk of cancer from formaldehyde exposure is also a resulting
benefit, and implementation of the Phase 2 standards is estimated to
reduce excess cancer cases per million people from formaldehyde
exposure by about 40%.
- Formaldehyde emissions are significantly lower today compared to say 20 years ago on average. Why regulate composite wood products particularly when most raw board is finished or laminated that encapsulates formaldehyde? Studies show that formaldehyde emissions occur from both laminated and un-laminated boards and that current exposures still result in a public health threat. In our view, until the formaldehyde content of the board is reduced, the health risks from exposure to formaldehyde continue to exist. In the interest of public health protection, action is needed to lower formaldehyde contents from composite wood products, which have been identified as major source of formaldehyde in the context of total daily exposure to the general public.
- Resin Chemistry
the beginning of this Best Available Control Technology (BACT)
assessment, the limit was going to be on "unreacted UF molecules." Now
it is formaldehyde as a whole, yet PF is one of your (CARB) recommended
alternatives. Is this not a contradiction? It is our understanding
that the major portion of formaldehyde emissions from products made
with UF resins is "unreacted" formaldehyde. While some formaldehyde may
be released from previously bound molecules over time, the amount of
"unreacted" formaldehyde is known to be much lower in products made
with PF or NAF resins. Because the chemical bonds formed by
formaldehyde in PF resins are largely irreversible, we believe that the
use of PF resins will result in lower formaldehyde emissions throughout
the life of the composite wood product and would be an effective
alternative to the use of UF resin and an example of an ULEF resin
system. Innovative ULEF resin systems, based on the use of scavengers,
can be an effective alternative as well.
- Does the new standard distinguish between
urea-formaldehyde and phenol- formaldehyde or for the sake of the rule
are they equally regulated? Under CARB staff's original proposed
regulation, they were treated equally as both having added formaldehyde
and would not qualify as "no-added formaldehyde" resin systems.
However, the final regulation includes staff's modifications to the
original provision and allows ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde-based
resins (such as phenol-formaldehyde) to have reduced testing
- In the beginning of this Best Available Control Technology (BACT) assessment, the limit was going to be on "unreacted UF molecules." Now it is formaldehyde as a whole, yet PF is one of your (CARB) recommended alternatives. Is this not a contradiction? It is our understanding that the major portion of formaldehyde emissions from products made with UF resins is "unreacted" formaldehyde. While some formaldehyde may be released from previously bound molecules over time, the amount of "unreacted" formaldehyde is known to be much lower in products made with PF or NAF resins. Because the chemical bonds formed by formaldehyde in PF resins are largely irreversible, we believe that the use of PF resins will result in lower formaldehyde emissions throughout the life of the composite wood product and would be an effective alternative to the use of UF resin and an example of an ULEF resin system. Innovative ULEF resin systems, based on the use of scavengers, can be an effective alternative as well.
- Third Party Certification (TPC)
- Who has to be third party certified?
Only manufacturers of HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, MDF and thin MDF are required to be third party certified.
- What do Third Party Certifiers (TPCs) "certify"?
TPCs verify that manufacturers of composite wood products (panels) are capable of complying
with the ATCM's emission standards. Manufacturers certify that their panels comply with
the emission standards by labeling their panels as CARB Phase 2 compliant. TPCs also
conduct quarterly inspections and testing, and review routine quality control testing
conducted by each manufacturing mill. Verifications by TPCs apply to specific product
types at each mill operated by a manufacturer. A list of certified manufacturing mills
is maintained on CARB's composite wood products webpage at the following link:
It is important to note that just because a mill is listed on CARB's list of certified mills does not mean that everything made by that mill complies with CARB's emission standards. For many mills, most of their production is not intended for sale in California and is not CARB compliant.
- Are Third Party Certifiers (TPCs) required to test finished goods? No.
- Will CARB supply manufacturers with a list of certified third party testing facilities?
We maintain a list of approved third party certifiers on our website. Currently, we have approved of about 40
third party certifiers. For more information on their contact information, please visit our website at:
- What plans are in place to have certified third party testing facilities internationally?
Of the 40 approved TPCs (as of August, 2014), most are providing international services. A list of approved TPCs is
available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/listoftpcs.htm.
- What has CARB done to address international stakeholders with respect to third party certification?
CARB approached this issue in three steps. Initially, CARB conducted outreach to major international stakeholders and to
the regulated community abroad. Staff traveled to China and Malaysia to conduct site visits to the Chinese consulate and
participated in conferences to discuss and explain the CARB ATCM and the standards. CARB's outreach efforts also include
translations of fact sheets, presently available in five language (Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Indonesian).
The translations of the ATCM text are available in the above listed languages at the following
website:http://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/outreach/foreign.htm. Second, CARB also put great emphasis on working
with international third party certifiers to develop the certification program. Thirdly, important modifications were
made to the rule in order to provide consistency compared to other international standards. CARB staff developed and
changed the ATCM to allow the use of the secondary test method (small chamber method) to reduce the worldwide need for
large chamber testing. In addition, we allowed alternative quality control test methods to provide consistency with
existing test methods used for Japanese and European Union composite wood product regulations. CARB also worked
closely with the International Wood Panel Association and made contacts with its member manufacturers.
- My company is currently accredited to be a product certifier (e.g, ISO Guide 65),
testing laboratory (e.g., ISO 17025), and inspection body (e.g., ISO 17020), and we have years of
experience in inspecting composite wood products mills and testing formaldehyde emissions from panels.
The scope of our ISO/IEC 17025 includes ASTM D 6007, but does not include ASTM E 1333. Do we have the
qualifications to be a CARB-approved Third Party Certifier?
Your company can qualify as a TPC if your secondary method (ASTM D
6007) has been deemed equivalent to the primary method (ASTM E 1333),
in accordance with title 17, California Code of Regulations, section
93120.9 and the data is included as part of the TPC application. Unless
your ASTM D 6007 chamber is equivalent, it cannot be used to verify
panel emission levels, for purposes of the ATCM. If you are in the
process of establishing equivalence with an ASTM E 1333 chamber, your
application may be submitted, but will be deemed "incomplete". Please
note that the demonstration of equivalence will require you to perform
the required comparison testing with an ASTM E 1333 chamber operated by
a CARB-approved testing laboratory before an approved Executive Order
can be granted. A demonstration of equivalence made with a testing
laboratory that has not received CARB-approval will not be accepted as
valid, for purposes of the ATCM.
- Who has to be third party certified? Only manufacturers of HWPW-VC, HWPW-CC, PB, MDF and thin MDF are required to be third party certified.
- Do other states have a similar regulation?
We are unaware of any other State having a similar regulation. However,
in 2010, the federal Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products
Act was signed into law by President Obama. The Act establishes
formaldehyde emission standards for HWPW, PB and MDF sold, supplied,
offered for sale or manufactured in the United States. The law requires
U.S. EPA to adopt CARB's formaldehyde emission standards for composite
wood products and to promulgate a regulation to implement these new
federal standards. The U.S. EPA regulation is expected to be effective
- Are reload warehouses classified as a distribution warehouse or a manufacturing warehouse?
Example: take rail cars of product to a reload warehouse and distribute
truckloads from there. All warehouses are owned by independent third
parties and are established as separate business entities from
manufacturing companies. Reload warehouses would be considered as
distributors who must take reasonable prudent precautions to ensure
that compliant products are purchased for resale to California.
- Is an "installer" of architectural
woodwork and miscellaneous cabinetry (e.g., on-site milling and
matching, setting up, installing, adjusting, positioning, etc.)
responsible for recordkeeping under the ATCM? No. The ATCM does not
apply to business entities that only install cabinetry for California
consumers, since they are not considered to be a fabricator or a
manufacturer. As an "installer," these business entities only put
finished goods into service and are not involved in the fabrication,
purchase, or sale of products containing the composite wood products
for downstream customers. If an installer uses composite wood products
in the act of "installing" finished goods in California, then the
installer must use complying composite wood products.
- Does a retailer need to know what type(s) of composite wood product(s) a given piece of furniture or finished good contains?
Yes, to the degree that it satisfies the retailers need to demonstrate
"reasonable prudent precautions". As many components in furniture are
made with HWPW, PB or MDF, retailers must work with their suppliers to
ensure that the finished goods were made with compliant materials.
Retailers must ask for and receive from their suppliers, a statement of
compliance that indicates that the finished goods that they are
supplied for sale in California were made with composite wood products
that comply with applicable California standards.
- The regulation states that no person
shall "supply" any composite wood product which, at the time of sale or
manufacture, does not comply with the emission standards. What is meant
by "supply"? If a distributor is providing cabinets to a builder or
contractor of new homes, the distributor would be "supplying" finished
goods to his customer.
- Are refurbished products regarded as used products?
Yes. Refurbished or reconditioned items are not sold as new. Hence,
they would fall under "used goods' and not be covered by the
- Is an installer (i.e., closet company),
who purchases full-sized laminated panels, cutting them into shelves,
edge banding them and trimming their work for installation considered a
retailer or fabricator? If a closet company is simply purchasing
composite wood products or component parts and then taking them to a
consumer and installing shelving/closets, then they would be considered
as a retailer. In this case, a retailer is not making a new product,
simply installing a pre-fabricated product according to the steps
necessary for on-site carpentry, assembly and installation. Retailers
need to take reasonable prudent precautions to ensure that they obtain
compliant composite wood products, and keep records to demonstrate
their products comply with the applicable emission standards
However, if a business exists in which, panels are cut, edge banded, and essentially "new fabricated products" are produced, then that business would be considered as a fabricator. In addition to demonstrating the use of complying composite wood products, fabricators also need to label the finished products. To document their purchases and use of compliant materials to California, fabricators must keep records showing the dates of purchase and suppliers of composite wood products that they used.
- Can noncompliant composite wood panels
and/or finished goods be donated after the expiration of an applicable
sell-through period? No. Business entities may not opt for donating
their noncompliant inventories. In the ATCM (California Code of
Regulations, title 17, Section 93120 (b)), the purpose is stated as
"…..the purpose of this airborne toxic control measure is to reduce
formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, that are sold,
offered for sale, supplied, used, or manufactured for sale in
California. By making donations, a business would be "supplying"
noncompliant products and potentially exposing the California public to
high-emitting and unhealthy products.
- Are travel goods, including backpacks,
luggage, leather goods, business and travel accessories, handbags,
business and computer cases etc., that contain small amount of
composite wood products subject to the ATCM? Why do I have to use
compliant materials if linings and other durable materials fully
encapsulates the composite wood products? Under the ATCM, some
items such as backpacks, luggage, leather goods, business, and travel
accessories, etc., would be considered finished goods if they contain
HWPW, PB or MDF. For these products, you would be subject to the
regulatory requirements, provided they are sold or supplied to the
The ATCM does not allow exemptions for de minimus use in finished goods, other than those specifically identified for windows and exterior doors (please see question #46 & #47). The ATCM is an example of pollution prevention because the strict surface formaldehyde emission standards on composite wood panels will necessitate the use of advanced resins systems that will either eliminate or chemically bind formaldehyde, thereby preventing pollution before it occurs. Therefore, we do not view coverings as emissions mitigation. At some point, even covered high-emitting composite wood products will emit into the atmosphere over time as products are worn and damaged. The broad applicability was necessary to ensure that all fabricators of California finished goods would use only certified lower-emitting composite wood products.
- Do other states have a similar regulation? We are unaware of any other State having a similar regulation. However, in 2010, the federal Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act was signed into law by President Obama. The Act establishes formaldehyde emission standards for HWPW, PB and MDF sold, supplied, offered for sale or manufactured in the United States. The law requires U.S. EPA to adopt CARB's formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products and to promulgate a regulation to implement these new federal standards. The U.S. EPA regulation is expected to be effective by 2016.