Composite Wood Products Airborne Toxic Control Measure
CARB identified formaldehyde as a toxic air contaminant (TAC) in March 1992. According to section 39655 of the California Health and Safety Code, a TAC is "an air pollutant which may cause or contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious illness, or which may pose a present or potential hazard to human health."
Following its identification, CARB evaluated formaldehyde exposure in California and found that one of the major sources of formaldehyde exposure is from inhalation of formaldehyde emitted from composite wood products that contained formaldehyde resins. These emissions resulted from the release of unreacted formaldehyde from the resins in the composite wood products and from chemical degradation over time. Resins used to bond wood materials typically contain formaldehyde. CARB, in its evaluation, proposed a regulation to reduce emissions of formaldehyde from hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard panels, and finished goods, such as furniture and cabinets fabricated with those materials.
On April 26, 2007, CARB approved an airborne toxic control measure to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products that are sold, supplied, used, or manufactured for sale in California. The final regulation is available in several languages.