In the last months, the general public has become more conscious of what is known as CARB Phase 2. In the United States, there are cases involving improperly labeled flooring products, this has forced many homeowners to think about the additional safety concerns they should be aware of. While you may not think of it right away, indoor air quality, or IAQ, is important. Here’s the inside on the California regulation focused on air quality.
CARB is known as California Air resources Board or (ARB). CARB is a department within the cabinet-level California Environmental Protection Agency. Established in 1976 with the purpose of mantaining and improviving the air quality; research the cause and solutions of air pollution. The quality standards of CARB like the MDF (which meet CARB2) , are stricted and in general they are considered the main standard in the United States.
CARB Phase 1 and Phase 2 are a part of California’s Composite Wood Products Regulation (CWP Regulation), which took effect in 2009 with Phase 1. The regulation has to do with reducing formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, hardwood plywood (HWPW), particleboard (PB) and medium density fiberboard (MDF). In the 2009 launching of the CARB’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM), formaldehyde emissions were limited at .08 parts per million (ppm). CARB Phase 2 went into effect in 2010 and has much lower formaldehyde emissions than the previous phase; set at .05 ppm.
One of the main reasons why the CARB ATCM is the strictest air quality measure is because it CAPS emissions levels. Other air quality standards are averages.
Any product made with hardwood plywood, particleboard or medium density fiberboard must be labeled with the appropriate labeling. To check if a composite wood product is compliant for formaldehyde Phase 2, look for a label that includes the name of the manufacturer, production date, and language that indicates the product meets the compliant with CARB Phase 1 or CARB Phase 2 emission limit. These labels will often include “California 93120 Compliant for Formaldehyde” or “California Phase 2 Compliant.”
This regulation is important because it ensures the air we breathe is healthy and free from carcinogens which can harm us. As of 2011, formaldehyde was added to the federal government’s carcinogen list due to its health effects, which often include nose and throat irritation, burning eyes, wheezing or difficulty breathing, headaches, and nausea. Formaldehyde is a colorless gas and is emitted from a variety of sources like fireplaces, tobacco smoke, and wood burning stoves, just to name a few. In the flooring industry, it’s often used to manufactured products including resins that are used as adhesives for composite wood products. The CWP regulation ensures formaldehyde emissions do not exceed the limit established.
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