Dear Readers: Here is a thought a new friend shared with me: When California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lights up a cigar to celebrate another state-wide tax-raise, he is producing about 40 ppm (parts per million) of formaldehyde….and seems to be more in jeopardy on a motorcycle than enjoying a stogie.
In contrast, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is mandating that composite wood panels (used in a multitude of furniture products and consumer goods) be certified to eventually have 0.05 ppm of this same, naturally-occurring compound. A combination of bureaucratic hubris, regulatory power-grabs, poor science, and interstate commerce regulations endangers billions of dollars in revenue and countless jobs in California and other states in an already weakened economy.
I submit the real hazard to California’s citizens is CARB.
The new friend is Jeff Lassle. He is a former director of a forest products company that is 135-years old and reeling from forced compliance with draconian requirements under the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rules for formaldehyde.
“Businessmen and women are afraid to complain, because they are afraid they are going to be targeted for regulatory retribution,” said Lassle. “These rules killed my job, the jobs of hundreds of Californians, and the livelihood of thousands of American in other states – because, according to the interstate commerce clauses, manufacturers who make items for California must meet our state’s guidelines.”
There are many extreme environmental measures endangering the economy of California’s enterprises and industry. It is so bad, that Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill allowing the construction of a 75,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles area; the bill nullifies a lawsuit filed by residents in nearby Walnut over the project’s environmental impact (click HERE to read the details).
Lassle put this act perspective: “American sports industries account for $16 billion in income annually. Its furniture and forestry products businesses account for $350 billion per year for the state (and approximately $2 trillion, when considering the national industries). Why doesn’t this type of real industry, that provides great jobs with reliable income, qualify for similar waivers and exemptions?”
Here is an example of a plea for regulatory relief from an Executive Vice President of International Wood Products to CARB Chairwoman, Mary Nichols (click HERE). The letter provides chilling details on the economic consequences to this state, especially during these economically challenging times, if CARB does not grant the Furniture and Forest Products Industry the same consideration it does sports teams.
The poor science and unreasoned promulgation of CARB requirements have been detailed in this weblog often, especially as they pertain to the diesel emission rules. Lassle offers a perspective on different series of regulations – those pertaining to formaldehyde in forest products, furniture items, and thousands of other retail goods that are critical to American consumers.
Formaldehyde is a simple chemical made of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. It occurs naturally and is made within our bodies. The typical human produces 1-1/2 oz. of it every day (and you can have 2 ppm in your bloodstream at any moment). Plants and animals also produce formaldehyde; and is present in the air. The average oak tree, for instance, emits 0.009 parts per million (ppm) of formaldehyde (think of it as less that 1 cent contained in $ 1 million – and that will give you a sense of the scale). The compound is also in many fruits and vegetables; it is a byproduct of cooking some vegetables and meats (e.g., brussel sprouts, cabbage, and a tasty sirloin steak).
This chemical breaks down quickly and is metabolized to simple carbon dioxide. Our bodies readily break down the low levels to which we are exposed everyday.
Formaldehyde does present specific health hazards (e.g., it is “known to the State of California to cause cancer“, and can cause allergic properties); however, these hazards are not pertinent to the already low levels found in wood products (especially when they are coated or painted). Furthermore, the concentrations that CARB mandates to be permitted in composite panels for furniture products are net set on hard data – just the desire to be the lowest level on the globe.
Lassle offers the following overview on formaldehyde limits currently used and accepted:
• The U.S. HUD Manufactured Housing Standard is 0.20 ppm of formaldehyde (equivalent to 20 cents in $1 million).
• European standards for composite board are set to be 0.1 ppm (equivalent to 10 cents in $1 million).
• By June of this year, the California forest products industry will have to ensure any item sold here has 0.08 ppm (equivalent 8 cents per $1 million) in Phase I of compliance with the new CARB standards
• By June of 2010 after Phase II is complete, the forest products industry produced items must be certified to have less than 0.05 ppm (equivalent 5 cents per $1 million).
Lassle notes that the furniture industry lags these rules by 12 months.
“The only reason CARB set levels this low is to have the most stringent standard in the world. These levels are at the limits of analytical detection. This is nonsense, and will contribute to California economic failures.”
[I would like to note that one of the CARB officials say “there is no safe level for formaldehyde”, citing its cancer-causing status. As mentioned above, our bodies produce safe levels of formaldehyde daily. Additionally, a study conducted by three separate groups determined that the CARB over-estimated the risk of cancer from formaldehyde up to 36,000 times. A review of these studies can be found HERE.
The ignorant CARB statement also belies that it is a general rule of occupational safety in industrial settings (i.e. laboratory) to reduce all exposures to carcinogens to lowest possible levels. Furthermore, the human body is designed to handle regular exposures to toxins found in foods and nature regularly. In fact, Californians routinely voluntarily consume carcinogenic ethyl alcohol in wines often; most wine imbibers do not develop cancer, and it is thought its consumption is beneficial! Utilizing the language of industrial hygiene for fear-mongering and bureaucratic empowerment is disgusting.
As additional background, the actual potential of formaldehyde to cause nasal cancer is questionable. The American Cancer Society reports that 50, yes only 50, cases of nasal cancer are diagnosed yearly in the United States. The causes of nasal cancer are chiefly related to genetics, the HPV virus and smoking and according to the Center for Disease Control, Formaldehyde has never been directly linked to even one case of cancer to date.]
To place the significance of this “safety enhancement” in perspective, Lassle noted that a professional toxicologist (Dr. F.J. Murray, DABT of Stanford University) estimated that the extra protection provided by CARB’s punitive formaldehyde levels would protect 0.16 person per 38 million over a 70 year time. In summary, CARB’s gutting a multi-billion dollar industry critical to our state’s economy will theoretically save….1 foot on 1 person in the entire state’s 38 million population each 70 years.
If a piece of furniture is not certified to be at or below the above threshold levels, it cannot be sold in the state of California. Therefore, many furniture distributors and sellers are in jeopardy of not being able to sell their current stock – especially as inventory has been slow to move in the current economic environment. Many in that industry are appealing to CARB to extend deadlines, so that they can sell off the current stock (click HERE to read further details).
Wayne Nunnally, purchasing and sales manager of Peterman Lumber Inc. in Fontana, said the new regulation, effective Jan. 1, 2009, doesn’t give hundreds of businesses enough time to sell off existing stock. The wood must be certified where it is manufactured, and so far, certified wood has not arrived from overseas mills.
Although the current products might meet the new standard, they won’t have the necessary certification to be sold in California, Nunnally said.
“We are in favor of reducing air pollution, but we want to make it so we don’t get killed,” he said. “We might have to dump it and lose money because of the inventory.”
Lassle details the current unrest in the furniture and forestry products industry: “Many people can survive a year or two without profits. However, the new CARB rules pertaining to permission will extend the losses, especially in this economy. Businesses will close, and this will prolong our state’s weak economy.”
At the present time, CARB does not appear to be receptive based on the scientific and economic counter-arguments offered by environmental professionals and experienced businesspeople. Furthermore, other state and countries are poised to benefit from our state’s ill considered regulations impact on California itself; an example follows:
Ernie Montano, vice president of a La Mirada importing company, has surveyed a sampling of California importers and has estimated that there is nearly $200 million worth of noncompliant materials in warehouses and lumberyards.
Montano, of Del Valle, Kahman & Co. Inc., said he is already getting calls from wood suppliers based in Mexico and Arizona offering to buy his inventory at prices about half what his company paid for the wood.
Sadly, the only profits that CARB seems interested in is their own. Failure to meet the draconian certification requirements can lead to fines of $10,000 per day, and in special situations $70,000 a day and 1 year of jail time. Additionally, the CARB salary levels are ASTONISHING! Specific details and analysis are HERE; a snippet is below:
Californians should be very concerned. Imagine going into a Target to by a coffee table, only to find none available or priced at levels far higher than in neighboring states. With no sales, employees from a wide range of industries will become jobless.
Citizens who want to take action can start by reviewing the information HERE: Miracle in California — Stopping the Cancer of Big Government!.
MUT News and Views:
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A look at how children are being exploited to promote the “global warming” inanity by The Anchoress, another example of poor science is being used to control the populace and suppress liberty and capitalism.
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