Terminology Time – CARB

I’m going to do a series now and then called “Terminology Time” where I’ll try to define an acronym or explain a phrase or term in common (or uncommon!) usage. And since we’re going to be talking a lot about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this year, I thought a good start would be to review some basic definitions. And the first one we need to know if we’re going to understand all this is to look where it all started: CARB.

The California Air Resource Board (CARB) is a state agency that governs everything from truck exhaust emissions to agricultural concerns. In the flooring industry, we know it best for ATCM 93120, the standard for composite wood products. This standard is only legally applicable in California, however, it has become a de facto industry standard in both the U.S. and Canada. And it is the basis for the upcoming EPA regulations as well.

CARB was rolled out in phases. Products are currently marked as compliant under “Phase 2” (or P2). Further modifications are predicted for some time in 2018 or later, but the emissions standards are not scheduled for change. These modifications may expand the coverage of products or change some of the administrative requirements.

CARB, like the EPA and the Canadian standard to be discussed in the next few weeks directly cover four specific products, generally what the building industry looks at as raw material:  plywood, two thickness groupings of medium density fiberboard (MDF) and particleboard.

For a composite wood product to be CARB/TSCA certified it must meet both an emissions level standard and a documentary burden and the mill producing the panel must be certified by an accredited CARB Third Party Certifier (TPC). These regulated products are marked as “Certified” or “Compliant,” however flooring (or other products like kitchen cabinets and furniture) that utilize those products as components and meet an administrative burden can only be labeled as “Compliant.”  To be clear, there is no such thing as “CARB Certified Flooring.”

Some useful website links are: