CARB Compared to TSCA

A few weeks ago, CARB released a comparison of CARB and TSCA rules. It is expected that some differences will disappear in future amendments to CARB or as the EPA puts out more guidance, but for now, you have to be ready to comply with both. For example, remember the label requirements for de minimis plywood tips in lumber core discussed in an earlier blog? That’s one of many small things you have to understand and prepare for.

There are bigger things too. It is very important that manufacturers, in particular, understand the differences in some of the requirements such as in their development of correlation values and equivalence for secondary test method. You’ll need to read the all the comparisons outlined in the link, but for now, here are a couple I want to make sure the greater general industry doesn’t miss:

Tracking your components:

Can you trace your production? If you are a manufacturer, do you know the source of the plywood in your engineered flooring or the MDF in your laminate? Do you mix and blend? For retailers, do your suppliers properly track their material so things can be traced backwards along the chain. Whoever you are in the chain, make sure your record keeping program is well established.

NAF/ULEF now requires TPC oversight:

First, remember that NAF stands for “No Added Formaldehyde” and ULEF is “Ultra Low Emitting Formaldehyde.” These are routes to CARB/TSCA compliance and they are based on meeting specific emission standards, although they might seem to be content focused. Here is a comparison of how the two agencies approach this type of production:

This is something we discussed at the FER panel at the convention. In simple terms, under CARB, a mill could undertake 6 months of intensive testing and with that data, along with other information, apply to CARB for ULEF or NAF status. If granted, this was an exemption from the regular TPC oversight that comes with P2 certification. They had to renew this every two years. Their labels did NOT have a TPC number because once approved, they were outside TPC oversight.

Under TSCA, the panel producers do not apply to the EPA. They can continue to work with CARB or apply to their TPC receive this designation and the reduced oversight exemption. Unlike CARB, however, they have to include their TPC number on their labels. So the amount of direct TPC oversight that continues past the initial six months of intensive testing will be up to them and their TPC. It is expected that although the EPA does not require TPC testing during that two year exemption period, many TPCs will require at least an annual testing since they have assumed responsibility for the mill’s NAF/ULEF status.

For the time being, if something is recognized as CARB NAF/ULEF it is good by TSCA as well. But that will change as mills renew their status so make sure that in the years ahead, if you are buying panels that are sold as NAF/ULEF, that you look for the TPC number. One of the many small differences between CARB and TSCA that you’ll want to know.

Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only.  Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.  Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.

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