EPA proposes new standards for composite wood products
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed two new regulations last month that would help further protect Americans from formaldehyde emissions in composite wood products. The proposals are currently up for public discussion in the Federal Register, where woodworking professionals and other interested parties can submit formal comments through Aug. 9.
The legislation would apply to all composite wood products that are sold, manufactured, supplied, offered for sale or imported into the United States.
The first rule would place a limit on formaldehyde emissions for hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished goods. The second rule would call for a third-party certification system that would verify manufacturers’ compliance with the Toxic Substances Control Act formaldehyde emission standards.
According to the EPA, health effects resulting from formaldehyde exposure include irritation of the nose, throat and eyes, respiratory complications, worsening of asthma symptoms, fatigue, headache, nausea and possibly cancer.
Tarkett unveils asthma- and allergy-friendly flooring
Sustainable flooring company Tarkett has announced its FiberFloor line of products, the only collection in the industry that is certified asthma- and allergy-friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
FiberFloor was created in response to the significant portion of homes where one or more family members suffers from asthma or allergies (one in five). The product is made with woven fiberglass, foam and a wear-resistant top layer. The AAFA certification indicates that FiberFloor is minimally retentive of allergens and that installation and recommended cleaning won’t result in elevated levels of chemicals and allergens.
FiberFloor is also among the Tarkett products that have received FloorScore certification by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and Scientific Certifications Systems. As such, all of Tarkett’s flooring products produce no more than 100 micrograms of VOC emissions per cubic meter of air.
Tarkett also offers an alternative line of low-VOC flooring products called Transcend.
All Transcend and FiberFloor (except Ambiente) are phthalate-free.
Builder confidence surges in June
For the first time since April 2006, builder confidence surged past 50 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released Tuesday. This benchmark indicates that builder sentiment is mostly positive regarding market conditions.
The eight-point jump to 52 in June also marked the biggest one-month gain since August and September 2002.
Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.
"Builders are experiencing some relief in the headwinds that are holding back a more robust recovery," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe.
June’s HMI numbers are on track with the forecast for a 29% increase in total housing starts for 2013, according to Crowe.
All three HMI components posted gains in June. The index gauging current sales conditions increased eight points to 56, while the index measuring expectations for future sales rose nine points to 61 — its highest level since March 2006. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose seven points to 40.
The HMI three-month moving average was up in three of the four regions, with the Northeast and Midwest posting a one-point and three-point gain to 37 and 47, respectively. The South registered a four-point gain to 46, while the West fell one point to 48.