Swedish rules on formaldehyde in wood-based boards
Wood-based boards manufactured in Sweden or imported into Sweden may emit no more than 0.124 milligrams of formaldehyde/cubic metre of air. Boards that emit a quantity exceeding this limit may not be sold, transferred or used professionally either. The purpose of the ban is to reduce the occurrence of formaldehyde in indoor air.
Ban on formaldehyde in wood-based boards
Formaldehyde is a substance that can cause severe harmful effects to health in a number of ways, such as cancer and allergies. It is therefore important to reduce exposure to this substance.
There is a ban in Sweden which means that wood-based boards manufactured or imported into Sweden may not emit more than 0.124 mg formaldehyde/m3 of air. Boards that emit a quantity exceeding this limit may not be sold, transferred or used professionally either.
The Swedish ban applies to crude wood-based boards containing formaldehyde-based additives. By wood-based boards we mean chipboard, plywood, fibre board, laminated wood and so on. The manufacture of this type of board involves the use of adhesive for bonding the wood fibres. The adhesive may contain formaldehyde which can be emitted from the finished wood-based board.
The regulations are set out in Chapter 8, 1–7 §§ of the Swedish Chemicals Agency Regulations (KIFS 2017:7) (In Swedish only)
Proposal for an EU restriction
Work is underway in the EU to compile a restriction on the amount of formaldehyde that can be emitted from consumer articles intended for indoor use. This EU-wide proposal covers many types of articles, not just raw wood-based boards, which are currently regulated by our Swedish ban.
Read more about the proposed amendment on formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers in Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) External link.
Methods of testing
The emission limit shall be tested according to the standard SS-EN 717-1:2004 or an equivalent standard for emissions testing of wood-based boards. Simply carrying out a self-inspection in accordance with SS-EN 120 is often not enough; you need to correlate the method to the standard SS-EN 717. Wood-based boards that are given a CE label in accordance with emissions class E1 shall be seen to fulfil the requirements for the maximum emission limit of formaldehyde allowed. The regulations set special requirements for the laboratories that carry out this type of emissions measurement.
Standards can be ordered from the SIS, Swedish Institute for Standards. External link.
Wood-based boards not covered by the ban
The ban applies only to crude boards with no coating. Painted or varnished boards are therefore not covered by the ban. Nor shall the regulations apply to phenol-bonded boards, where formaldehyde occurs only as a co-polymer with phenol and is therefore not emitted.
The ban does not apply to raw wood-based panels assembled into finished furniture or other articles.
Dispensation from the ban
If there are special reasons, the Swedish Chemicals Agency may grant a dispensation from the ban. In order for us to assess an application for a dispensation, you must send us written documentation stating the reasons for it.