May 19, 2022

AHFA finds no risk of formaldehyde in engineered wood furniture


HIGH POINT, NC – The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has released the results of tests it says confirm the consumer safety of home furnishings containing engineered wood and that these products meet the formaldehyde emission standard of California (CARB).

The safety of home furnishings containing engineered wood was recently questioned by Whitney Tilson, Founder and Managing Partner of Kase Capital Management. Tilson claimed to have purchased and tested five home furnishings sold by Wayfair.com and other national retailers. According to Tilson, four of those products did not meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) formaldehyde standard.

AHFA purchased the same four products for testing by UL Environment, Marietta, Ga., A business unit of Underwriters Laboratory, the global provider of certification, testing, inspection and auditing services. Test results showed that all four products had formaldehyde emissions well below the CARB standard and complied with all related regulations.

“We believe that CARB compliant wood products are safe for consumers,” said Andy Counts, CEO of AHFA. “In order to meet California formaldehyde emission limits, manufacturers of composite wood components today are using new formulations of glue, including ultra-low formaldehyde emitting glues and glues without added formaldehyde. . As a result, wood furniture constructed with these CARB compliant components emit extremely low levels of formaldehyde. “

In a simulation of actual consumer use, the UL lab found that the four products sold by Wayfair produced formaldehyde emissions well below the CARB standard and at a level that UL considers “extremely low”.

In fact, UL test results showed formaldehyde emissions to be between 49% and 91% lower than the levels allowed by the current CARB standard, which remains the strictest formaldehyde standard in the world.

In order to produce a higher formaldehyde emission level, Tilson used “deconstructive testing,” Counts explained. “Deconstructive testing is not a valid method for determining CARB compliance of components in finished consumer products. In our many years of working with CARB staff, deconstructive testing has only been used as a screening tool to determine if further testing might be needed. It produces highly variable results and, therefore, is considered imprecise and unreliable.

Counts continued, “We think Tilson is using deconstructive testing in ways that CARB never envisioned.”

“These results are well below CARB standards,” noted John Dunlap, former president of CARB. “The goal of the CARB standard is to make sure that manufacturers use the right materials, CARB certified panels, to make products that are safe for consumers. The idea that one would deconstruct a finished furniture product and then test it against a raw board standard is not what was intended.

Dunlap continued, “As UL tests on these specific products show, the system works well and the products have been found to be acceptable and safe when used as intended. No third party should deconstruct a finished piece of furniture and then suggest that it is unsafe – this seems like a tactic designed only to scare and manipulate consumers, or, in this case, investors.

“CARB has done a world class job of protecting consumers by ensuring that manufacturers use the best input materials and make safe furniture products,” Dunlap concluded. “CARB has always been an expert in inspection and compliance programs.

The AHFA works with its member companies and others in the industry to ensure that all regulations pertaining to home furnishings are understood. As part of this ongoing work, the organization recently added a fact sheet on formaldehyde to its website, as well as results of independent testing of furniture products for formaldehyde emissions.