Environmental Certifications and What They Mean
In 2000, the European Panel Industry set forward a series of standards regulating the amount of free formaldehyde an HDF, MDF or plywood panel can off-gas. In order to qualify for the standard, manufactures must submit samples of the panels they produce to independent laboratories. These laboratories put the panel samples in a chamber and measure the amount formaldehyde emitted into the air in parts per million (ppm). Depending on the amount of formaldehyde measured panels may be classified as E0, E1, or E2. E0 is the classification with the lowest level of formaldehyde, E2 the highest. Mills that submit samples that exceed the standard for E2 are not classified. In order to label a product in accordance with the European regulations the manufacturer must submit panels for regular independent testing to an accredited laboratory. After testing the lab will issue the manufacturer with a certification. All Twelve Oaks products meet or exceed the E1 standard and are legal for sale in Canada.
The California Air Resource Board (CARB) has also developed a set of standards for Formaldehyde emissions. The program is similar to the European program. Manufacturers must submit panel samples to independent laboratories, those labs measure formaldehyde emissions and issue certifications. Flooring products must achieve CARB certification to be legal for sale in California; but adoption of this standard is very widespread throughout the United States. Like the European program, a product cannot be called CARB compliant if it has not been independently tested and certified as such. The majority of our Twelve Oaks products have been tested and achieve CARB as well as E1 certification. In order to save costs, some of our low priced laminates have only been tested to comply with E1 at this time.
E1 and CARB are roughly equivalent standards. For example, the current CARB phase 2 standard for allowable emissions from MDF is .11 ppm. The E1 standard for the same product is .10 ppm. The test methodology differs for the two standards; but both standards regulate formaldehyde to levels that are low and safe.
FloorScore is a voluntary standard for indoor air quality developed by the Resilient Floor Coverings Institute and an environmental auditing organization called SCS. In order to qualify as FloorScore certified, the finished product must be tested and passed. SCS verifies the manufacturer’s claims and issues certifications to qualifying companies. Due to the multiple process involved in production of flooring, manufacturers need to control emissions of VOCs and TVOCs at almost every step of manufacturing chain to make sure the finished products pass the extensive tests.
Twelve Oaks considers FloorScore to be the gold standard for the regulation of chemicals that affect indoor air quality. We are working hard to ensure that our entire product line becomes FloorScore certified.