High emission wood panel products still on Australian markets
FLAT pack book shelves sourced in Asia and purchased on the open market in southeast Queensland have failed Australian standards for formaldehyde emissions.
In one sample laboratory tested by EWPAA last month, emissions were above 3 mg/L.
All samples tested were above the safe emission level of E1, recommended by the federal government’s National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS).
“This random testing has revealed unsafe materials are still entering the Australian market – a potentially serious problem,” EWPAA general manager Simon Dorries said.
NICNAS, which is responsible for the assessment and safe use of industrial chemicals, has advised construction workers and wood panel users against the use of products that contain formaldehyde exceeding the low emission limits of E0 and E1.
Products meeting E0 and E1 are considered safe in all applications including indoor and poorly ventilated applications.
A report by NICNAS has detailed the potential health hazards associated with formaldehyde exposure from pressed wood products that fail to meet low emission standards.
“This notice is very comforting for the wood processing industry that for many years has battled against market-damaging high emission imported materials such as flat panel products that fail to meet Australia’s low emission standards,” Mr Dorries said. “Independent routine testing of imported panels purchased in the open market for formaldehyde emissions continues to show a disturbing failure rate when compared to acceptable low emission limits.
“More importantly, product is seldom branded to identify to the consumer low and high emission product as required by Australian standards. Furthermore, some of the labelling claims which identify product as low emission are highly questionable.”
Mr Dorries said the EWPAA strictly maintained JAS-ANZ accredited certification schemes that guaranteed its members’ factories complied with the Australian standards on low formaldehyde levels. The association carries out regular laboratory tests in its NATA-accredited laboratories for formaldehyde emissions from all certified products manufactured in the Australasian region.
The construction industry and users of wood components have been notified to refer to the NICNAS material safety data sheet before purchasing any pressed wood products. The Information Sheet No 30 refers to Australian standards, labelling and product certification information available from the EWPAA.
Pressed wood products are sheet materials in which wood is largely in the form of strips, veneers, chips, strands or fibres. The wood particles are bound together by glue which is commonly a formaldehyde-based resin.
NICNAS has identified pressed wood products as plywood for panelling, furniture and other products; particleboard for shelving, countertops, floor underlay, furniture and some laminated flooring; and medium density fiberboard (MDF) used for cabinets, furniture, doors and laminated flooring.
Pressed wood products are used in the construction of furniture, kitchens and flooring and are commonly used in caravans, mobile homes and demountable buildings.
The current national occupational exposure standard for formaldehyde is 1 ppm 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) and 2 ppm short-term exposure limit (STEL).
The EWPAA maintains two NATA-accredited laboratories to test for formaldehyde emissions. Formaldehyde emissions for all EWPAA certified products are tested on a monthly basis. The schemes are accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australian and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).
The average formaldehyde emission for all structural and Type A exterior plywood products produced by EWPAA certified mills is only 0.14mg/L or one-third the permitted level for E0 and approximate to the natural formaldehyde emission from timber.
Visit www.nicnas.gov.au and go to publications / information or download this document.
The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia provides accreditation for plywood, LVL, particleboard, MDF and solid timber.Learn more