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Furniture Makers Face Higher Costs to Meet Law Limiting Formaldehyde in Wood

Demand for no-formaldehyde-added wood is expected to rise after President Obama signed a law this month that limits the amount of formaldehyde in wood, reports USA Today. It’s also projected to result in higher furniture and cabinet prices but will make homes greener.

The new federal law is based on California’s standard for limiting the formaldehyde in wood. California officials recently extended the deadline until Dec. 31, 2011, for stores to sell furniture and cabinets that surpass formaldehyde limits, according to USA Today.

The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act sets national emission standards at about 0.09 parts per million by January 1, 2013, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, for formaldehyde in new composite wood products, reports the IdahoStatesman.com. Secondhand products and antiques are exempted from the law.

Andy Counts, CEO of the American Home Furnishings Alliance, told USA Today that pricing could rise from three to 15 percent for plywood and particle board, but wood is only a small portion of the total cost for furniture.

Formaldehyde, which is used in many building materials, including particle board to build inexpensive furniture, is linked to cancer and has been known to cause respiratory problems, according to the USA Today article.

Some Chinese plywood also can contain high levels of formaldehyde to compensate for excessive moisture during production, according to the article. However, domestic hardwood plywood suppliers are said to use costlier techniques that eliminate the need for glue containing formaldehyde.

Some wood suppliers already are eliminating formaldehyde-based glue from their products. As an example, Columbia Forest Products recently adopted a new soy-based adhesive to replace its urea-formaldehyde-based adhesive.

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