WASHINGTON — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar that aims to create the toughest standards in the world on formaldehyde levels in wood products passed the Senate today by unanimous consent.
Klobuchar’s bill seeks to protect consumers from “potentially hazardous levels of the chemical formaldehyde.” Formaldehyde is used as a “chemical intermediary” in many household items, adhesives, solvents and composite wood used in furniture, cabinets, countertops and flooring.
Formaldehyde can be dangerous when concentrated — studies have shown “evidence of a causal relationship between formaldehyde exposure and cancers of the upper respiratory tract.”
The bill, introduced by Klobuchar and Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo in September 2009, would set an emissions cap of 0.09 parts per million, effective in 2013, require third-party testing to prove that the products follow national standards and call for the EPA to work with other federal agencies to monitor imported products. Similar standards are already in place in California.
“The bill will establish national standards that will both protect public health and ensure an even playing field between domestic wood products and foreign imports,” said Klobuchar in a statement.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House.
A representative for Minnesota’s Forest Industries, which employs more than 40,000, said the industry has much to gain if the legislation is successful in setting standards that make domestic products competitive with foreign imports.
“This legislation helps the forest products industry and consumers in our country,” said Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the Minnesota Forest Industries.
Lauren Knobbe is an intern in MinnPost’s D.C. bureau.