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Furniture Importers Facing TSCA Fees

Home furnishings companies that import components or finished products containing formaldehyde – or any other “high priority chemical” – are subject to provisions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “fees rule” – a cost-sharing provision within the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

In December, EPA announced 20 chemicals as “high priority,” meaning they warrant further risk assessments under TSCA. Formaldehyde, along with other chemicals frequently found in plastics, cleaners and flame retardants, were on this list.

Companies have an obligation to report to EPA by May 27, 2020, if they manufacture or import any of these chemicals in any quantity and in any manner. For home furnishings importers, this includes any home furnishings containing composite wood products (CWP) made using formaldehyde-based resins.

The reporting deadline originally was March 27. EPA announced a 60-day extension yesterday.

Under the TSCA “fees rule,” all companies that manufacture or import articles containing formaldehyde will be subject to a share of the cost for conducting the required risk assessment. This fee is expected to be assessed in August.

The fees rule was part of several 2016 amendments to TSCA that provided EPA with expanded authority to collect fees from chemical manufacturers and importers to help defray the costs associated with implementing TSCA – namely the costs associated with conducting risk evaluations for each of the high priority chemicals. EPA finalized the fees rule in 2018.

EPA has published a list of formaldehyde manufacturers but is seeking industry assistance in creating the list of importers that use CWP as a component part of a finished good. EPA is requiring these importers to “self-report” using the agency’s electronic reporting site, called the Central Data Exchange (CDX). EPA has the authority to pursue significant penalties against companies that do not self-report and/or fail to pay an assessed fee.

AHFA first learned the self-reporting deadline might be extended during an EPA conference call on the fees rule February 24. EPA attorney Ryan Schmit said the agency had received requests to extend the self-report period due to a variety of unresolved questions and concerns. AHFA members can find a transcript of the call in the Formaldehyde Compliance Toolbox on the AHFA member website.

Several days later, during a Small Business Administration environmental webinar on February 28, Mark Hartman, acting director of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, announced a 30-day extension, according to AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue, who participated in the webinar. But the March 9 EPA notice instead extended the deadline by 60 days.

On February 26, AHFA held a webinar for its member companies providing further insight on the impact of the fees rule on the home furnishings industry. That presentation is available to AHFA members in the Formaldehyde Compliance Toolbox on the AHFA member website.

Non-members can find general information on the fees rule on the EPA website.