When it comes to buying new furniture I find the more information I have the harder it seems to be to make a decision about whats completely safe. You can ask a million questions about how something is made, be assured that it includes no toxic glues or pressed wood, and then get it home and find it stinks to high heaven.
California is as close to Europe as this country gets for strict safety standards, and next week the California Air Resources Board is finalizing a rule that will reduce the formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products like plywood and particleboard by a very dramatic 57% percent (thats 700 tons per year by 2011 in California alone). The rule lays out tighter restrictions and a quality assurance program that will ensure compliance with the standards.
Because of federal preemptions however, the rules do not apply to manufactured housing. Manufacturing housing is covered by HUD's rules. During the past two years, the Sierra Club and others, under the leadership of Becky Gillette, found high levels of formaldehyde in the "temporary" housing FEMA provides to disaster victims. Last week, the CDC confirmed these findings and called for FEMA to get people out of the housing as soon as possible.
In order to protect all Americans from dangers of formaldehyde, the Sierra Club is spearheading an effort to get EPA to adopt the California standards and extend them to manufactured housing. If EPA implements the recommendation, it will reduce the formaldehyde exposures resulting from FEMA's disaster response as well as the lower exposures we all endure when we buy items made from particleboard and other composite wood products.
Tom Neltner of the Sierra Club and the non-profit, advocacy coalition IKE (Improving Kids' Environment) has written a petition that hed like you to sign.
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