Final Correlation Rule

January 31, 2018

Earlier this week EPA published a prepublication notice on the proposed “correlation” rule allowing TPC the use of small chambers to test formaldehyde emission levels.  Recall the rule published in December of 2016 only allowed for the use of large chambers for testing purposes even though CARB permits the use of small chambers.  With limited large chambers throughout the world this provision would have impossible for all Third Part Certifiers (TPC’s) to test and label panels TSCA Title VI compliant prior to the compliance deadline (currently December 2018 but that date is being challenged in court by the Sierra Club). See story above. 
More details:
EPA is permitting any correlation data generated by the TPC on or after 12/12/2016 to be used for EPA mill correlations, regardless of whether that data was generated via ASTM E1333-98(2010), ASTM E1333-14, ASTM D6007-02, or ASTM D6007-14. Therefore, data generated prior to 12/12/2016 cannot be used. Also, new data generated after the date this updated rule is published in the FR is only valid if generated via ASTM E1333-14 or ASTM 6007-14. Refer to the text on pages 9-10 as follows:
"To aid mills and third-party certifiers in understanding the practical implications of this revision, and to help them implement this revision into the TSCA Title VI program, the Agency is clarifying that data generated beginning December 12, 2016 using an ASTM E1333-10 test chamber, or, upon showing equivalence, an ASTM D6007-02 test chamber, and a panel producer’s quality control (QC) test method under §770.20(b)(1) may be used to establish the required annual correlation. Data generated beginning December 12, 2016 from a panel producer’s QC test method under §770.20(b)(1) that has been correlated to either an ASTM E1333-10 test chamber, or, upon showing equivalence, an ASTM D6007-02 test chamber, may be used to certify compliant composite wood products under the TSCA Title VI program until a new annual correlation is required. Beginning [Insert the effective date of this final rule], data used to establish correlations must be generated using an ASTM E1333-14 test chamber, or, upon showing equivalence, an ASTM D6007-14 test chamber and the panel producer’s QC test method under § 770.20(b)(1)."
It seems that there are notable exceptions between EPA and CARB. However, these ongoing differences with the two regulations continue to pose potential stumbling blocks for TPCs until such time as CARB and EPA align their requirements. In the meantime, TPC’s need to be aware of the deviations and work according to whatever is the more stringent requirement. This underscores the importance for CARB and EPA to work together to align requirements as soon as possible, in the meantime, this presents an “outreach” opportunity for both EPA and CARB to make sure TPC laboratories understand these differences and what they need to do to comply:

  1. This EPA revision does not change the prior requirement for TPCs to demonstrate equivalence between ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14 for each individual small chamber in use. CARB, on the other hand, does not require equivalence for each individual small chamber. Instead, CARB only requires that when collecting the minimum 5 data pairs needed to calculate the equivalence value, each small chamber should be represented in the data set. Accordingly, the EPA requirement is more stringent and must be followed.
  1. CARB requires that equivalence be demonstrated for at least 2 out of 3 potential emission ranges (Low Range = <0.07ppm); Mid-Range = 0.07<0.15ppm; High Range = 0.15<0.25). At least 5 data pairs are required for each of the 2 ranges selected (minimum 10 data pairs total). As noted above, EPA requires equivalence to be demonstrated based on a minimum of 5 data pairs per small chamber, EPA does not require equivalence in two ranges. Instead EPA requires the 5 data pairs used for equivalence must include panels representing the range of emissions to be measured by the TPC. In this case, the CARB requirement is more stringent and must be followed.
  1. When calculating equivalence, CARB requires the calculated “C” value cannot exceed 0.026 (Low Range); 0.038 (Mid-Range); and 0.052 (High Range), respectively. EPA, on the other hand, requires the maximum calculated “C” value cannot exceed 0.026ppm for each individual small chamber in use.  Accordingly, EPA does not factor the tendency for greater measurement variation (e.g. lower repeatability) between large and small chamber as emissions increase or when emissions measure below the laboratory’s test limit of quantification. Therefore, unless CARB and EPA issue guidance, laboratories will need to decide how they intend to demonstrate conformance to the maximum “C” value requirements for both CARB and EPA, respectively. Given that we have established the 2 range equivalence requirement under CARB is more restrictive and therefore must be followed, the lab could choose to do one of two things:


    1. The lab can conduct the 2 range equivalence as required by CARB, but apply EPA’s maximum 0.026ppm acceptance criteria to both ranges for the purposes of demonstrating equivalence.
    2. For CARB, the lab can conduct the 2 range equivalence and apply the appropriate CARB-specified maximum “C” value according to the ranges measured. Then for EPA, they can either do a separate equivalence altogether or they could pick and choose the 5 data pairs needed for each small chamber provided that data represents the range of emissions to be measured. The TPC can then calculate the “C” value using EPA’s maximum 0.026ppm criteria to determine equivalence under TSCA.

~Benchmark International