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Laws and Regulations Concerning Formaldehyde

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Toxic Substances Control Act 

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gives EPA authority to require reporting, recordkeeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures. In addition to TSCA Title VI, which applies to formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, the Act regulates significant new uses of formaldehyde pursuant to Section 5(a)(2) of TSCA. Such regulations are listed at 40 CFR Part 721, Subpart E.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from the "cradle-to-grave." This includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also set forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. The 1986 amendments to RCRA enabled EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances. 

Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. Under the CWA, EPA has implemented pollution control programs, such as setting wastewater standards for industry and water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. Section 311(b)(2)(A) regulates discharges of hazardous substances, including formaldehyde. The list of designated hazardous substances, including formaldehyde, is found at 40 CFR 116.4. A table of reportable quantities of hazardous substances, including formaldehyde, and applicability, notice, and liability provisions are found at 40 CFR 117.

Clean Air Act

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA sets limits on certain air pollutants, including setting limits on how much can be in the air anywhere in the United States. The Clean Air Act also gives EPA the authority to limit emissions of air pollutants coming from sources like chemical plants, utilities, and steel mills. Individual states or tribes may have stronger air pollution laws, but they may not have weaker pollution limits than those set by EPA. Formaldehyde is designated as a hazardous air pollutant pursuant and regulated pursuant to national emission standards at Section 112.

National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants under the CAA

Section 112(d) states that EPA must promulgate regulations establishing emission standards (NESHAP) for each category or subcategory of major sources and area sources of HAPs [listed pursuant to Section 112(c)]. The standards must require the maximum degree of emission reduction that the EPA determines to be achievable by each particular source category. Different criteria for maximum achievable control technology (MACT) apply for new and existing sources. Less stringent standards, known as generally available control technology (GACT) standards, are allowed at the Administrator's discretion for area sources.

Categories which formaldehyde is regulated under the NESHAP:

  • Plywood and composite wood products
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Wet formed fiber glass mat production
  • Mineral wool production
  • Wool fiberglass manufacturing
  • Manufacture of amino/phenolic resins
  • Wood furniture manufacturing operations
  • Rubber tire manufacturing
  • Natural gas transmission and storage facilities
  • Synthetic organic chemical manufacturing industry
  • Organic liquid distribution operations
  • Taconite iron ore processing
  • Emissions for polyvinyl chloride and copolymers production
  • Oil and natural gas production facilities 

Control of Hazardous Air Pollutants from Mobile Sources

Section 202(1) of the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set standards to control hazardous air pollutants from motor vehicles, motor vehicle fuels, or both. The 2007 Control of Hazardous Air Pollutants from Mobile Sources rule allows EPA to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants, including formaldehyde, from highway vehicles and non-road equipment. Such regulations are found at 40 CFR Part 85.

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