New law will protect Americans from formaldehyde
Congress has passed and President Obama has signed legislation in July enacting national standards for formaldehyde in composite wood products. Formaldehyde dramatically came to national attention when tens of thousands of families housed in travel trailers after Hurricane Katrina became ill.
The standards signed into law match those recently adopted by the California Air Resources Board, which dramatically reduce formaldehyde off-gassing that can cause watery eyes, headaches, depression, memory problems, and cancer. People with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and emphysema are especially susceptible to formaldehyde’s toxic effects. The new law will significantly reduce formaldehyde levels in products such as furniture, cabinets, shelving, countertops, flooring, and molding.
The Sierra Club and a broad coalition of groups and citizens concerned about public health submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency asking that the Agency adopt the more protective formaldehyde standards already in place in California and extend them to manufactured housing. Key coalition partners included the United Steelworkers and the National Center for Healthy Housing. As the first organization to publicize the toxicity of formaldehyde-laden emergency housing after Hurricane Katrina, the Sierra Club has taken a lead role in fighting for better disaster assistance and stronger regulations.