Carb & Wood Flooring

Galleher only sells engineered wood flooring products that are CARB-compliant, or – if they are not subject to CARB – that use low-VOC glues and meet CARB limits for formaldehyde emissions. As an extra precaution, we independently test samples of our imported products in an American lab to verify ongoing CARB compliance.

What are CARB requirements for Wood Flooring?

Why are CARB provisions for manufacturers who use no-added or ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde adhesives?

Formaldehyde & wood flooring

Because formaldehyde occurs in nature – even outdoor air has low levels of formaldehyde (about .03 ppm) – and is part of the chemical composition of wood itself, there is no such thing as a formaldehyde-free wood flooring product. There are, however, engineered wood flooring products whose adhesive system contains no, or very low, levels of added formaldehyde. They therefore do not off-gas formaldehyde at dangerous levels and comply with CARB requirements.

What is CARB, aka the Composite Wood Products Regulation?

The Composite Wood Products Regulation is a law established by the Air Resources Board, a public agency in the state of California. Its goal is to reduce public exposure to formaldehyde. The Air Resources Board evaluated formaldehyde exposure in California and found that one of the major sources of exposure is from inhalation of formaldehyde emitted from composite wood products containing urea-formaldehyde resins.

Confusingly, the regulation itself is also regularly referred to as CARB (an acronym for the California Air Resources Board), and products that meet the regulation are said to be CARB-compliant.

The regulation reduces exposure to formaldehyde through the establishment of strict emission performance standards on particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), heavy density fiberboard (HDF), and hardwood plywood (collectively know as composite wood products).

CARB requires that all finished goods destined for sale in California, including some types of engineered wood flooring, use composite wood products that have been tested and certified as compliant at the mill that makes them. The regulation was introduced in two phases: CARB 1 had higher emissions limits than CARB 2. All composite wood products must now meet CARB 2 limits.

CARB Formaldehyde Emisson Limits Compared to Regulations in Other Parts of the World

System Limit on Formaldehyde Emissions
European E2 Below 3.00 ppm, above 0.1
European E1 Below 0.1 ppm, above 0.07
European E0 Below 0.07 ppm
CARB Phase 1 Below 0.08 ppm
CARB Phase 2 Below 0.05 ppm
Outdoor ambient air About 0.03 ppm

California now has the strictest formaldehyde emissions laws for wood products on Earth. For composite wood products to now be sold legally in California, they must meet standards that only a few years ago were seen only with rigorous independent green product certifications.