April 27, 2007 / 12:53 AM / 11 years ago

California backs lowering formaldehyde in wood

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California regulators adopted new standards on Thursday to slash the amount of formaldehyde allowed in wood products, a move they say will save hundreds of people from getting cancer every year.

Over objections from some businesses, the California Air Resources Board approved new rules they say will reduce the total amount of formaldehyde released into the air in the state to 150 tons annually, down from the current 650 tons.

“They will be the most stringent in the United States and when they are fully implemented they will be the most stringent in the world,” said Dimitri Stanich, a spokesman for the board.

Formaldehyde is used in resins to bind together composite wood products. The new rules will be phased in starting in 2009 and fully implemented by 2012.

Stanich said 86 to 231 per million adults develop cancers from exposure to formaldehyde and that the numbers would drop by 35 to 97 lifetime cases per million under the first phase of the new rules. Formaldehyde can also cause eye, nose and throat irritation.

“Because these emissions would also substantially reduce indoor formaldehyde exposures, the largest benefit would be realized by buyers of new homes,” an Air Resources Board staff report said.

At a public hearing on the issue, some manufacturers warned the new rules would lead to higher prices and argued unsuccessfully they needed more time to adjust to the regulation.

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