EPA, CARB & Wood Flooring

Galleher only sells engineered wood flooring products that meet federal (Environmental Protection Agency or EPA) and California (CARB) limiting formaldehyde emissions, or – if they are not subject to these regulations – that use low-VOC glues and meet these limits. As an extra precaution, we independently test samples of our imported products in an American lab to verify ongoing compliance with formaldehyde emissions limits.

What are EPA/CARB requirements for Wood Flooring?

What are CARB’s special 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 EPA/CARB requirements.

What are CARB & EPA regulations on composite wood products?

The Composite Wood Products Regulation was established in 2009 by the California Air Resources Board, a public agency in the state of California (confusingly, the regulation is referred to as CARB, i.e. the acronym CARB agency that created it).

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.

In 2017, the EPA finalized a new rule – the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which added Title VI to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – that basically extends CARB requirements to all 50 states.

CARB and the EPA regulation reduce 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). They require that composite wood products including those used in some types of engineered wood flooring, be tested and certified as compliant at the mill that makes them. The CARB regulation was introduced in two phases: CARB 1 came first and had higher emissions limits than CARB 2.

EPA/CARB Formaldehyde Emission 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
EPA & 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.