The EPA is still trying to figure out how to handle the imported products with regards to the new proposed formaldehyde regulations that include engineered wood flooring. No question, all imported products will need to meet the emission standards and be certified by an approved TPC. There may also be additional paperwork required at the time of import. However, there's one part of the proposed regulations which should be looked at very carefully by importers [the emphasis is mine]:

"TSCA section 13 regulations, promulgated by CBP, require importers to certify that shipments of chemical substances and mixtures are in compliance with TSCA or not subject to TSCA. EPA believes that most, if not all, products subject to TSCA Title VI would be considered articles ... Articles are generally exempt from the TSCA section 13 certification requirements, but ... EPA is proposing to specifically require TSCA section 13 import certification for composite wood products that are articles."

What does that mean? Good question. We're not 100 percent sure of all the possible impacts of such a change, but it could mean that you would need treat composite wood products as a hazardous chemical shipment. It could result in changes in how the shipping companies handle them or the paperwork required. It might mean new SDS requirements. It might impact OSHA regs for handling, or change the disposal regs. We really don't want to see these wood flooring (and other composite wood products) identified as "chemical shipments." The impact of these changes will be felt far down the supply chain and can end up impacting domestic production, as well.

The EPA website says that the enforcement of Section 13 products "requires chemical importers to submit certification statements concerning import shipments of chemical substances. These reporting and recordkeeping provisions impose similar types of requirements, and therefore, failure to comply leads to similar types of violations." It went on to give some examples which included this one:

"An importer imports a chemical with no certification and which is otherwise in compliance with TSCA. Failure to certify, level 6, significant: 1 count, $1,300."

Yes, if engineered wood flooring is considered a chemical under these regulations and you bring it in without whatever certification paperwork is required (that's still under discussion), even if it is properly certified and in compliance with the emission levels, that can be a $1,300 fine.

There's a lot more in those regulations that impact specifically on imports. Please participate in the process by going here.

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")