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What Is CARB 2 Compliance

There are many industry terms used to describe features and environmental characteristics of cabinetry in the market today. If you’re building a home, are in the middle of a renovation, or even you’re just considering a remodel, then you’ve probably already heard of the term ‘CARB 2 Compliance’. 


This is a phrase that carries a lot of weight in the market and is very important. In this article, we’re talking about this term, its role in the cabinetry industry, and your health. Stay with us. 


What Is CARB 2 Compliance? 

As you’ve been looking for cabinets, furniture, flooring, carpet, or paint for your home, you may have encountered the label “CARB 2 compliant.” It certainly sounds like a good thing – but what is it? “CARB” stands for the California Air Resources Board, which introduced a certification process for limiting levels of formaldehyde in products that are used indoors. It’s a standard that ensures safe air quality for indoor spaces. Read on to find out why it’s important.


What products, in particular, does CARB 2 compliance cover?

Because the manufacture of cabinetry consumes a large number of natural resources, many people assume that cabinetry products will be excluded from this building standard. However, this is not true. Cabinetry products are included in the CARB 2 regulation.


CARB 2 compliance relates to composite wood products, or, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency, “panels made from pieces, chips, particles, or fibers of wood bonded together with a resin.”


This includes particleboard, medium-density fiberboard, and hardwood plywood. You can find such materials in large items such as flooring, doors, countertops, and cabinets as well as toys, photo frames, and audio speakers. 

While you are browsing items for your home remodel, be sure they are CARB 2 compliant to make sure that the air quality of your home is safe.



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How is formaldehyde used in composite wood products

So, what does CARB compliance mean for cabinets? It means that it CAN’T contain formaldehyde. The chemicals used to make cabinets aren’t as much of a health risk as raw formaldehyde is. 

Most manufacturers follow CARB strict guidelines when making products such as cabinets, countertops, and other similar items because they don’t want the bad press associated with negative health effects from using their products. 


In composite wood products, resins containing formaldehyde are frequently used as adhesives, or glues, to bond parts together. Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable chemical with a strong smell that can have negative health effects, both from short- and long-term exposure. 

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has listed formaldehyde as a “probable human carcinogen,” meaning that studies have linked exposure to formaldehyde to cancer. Short-term exposure can also have negative effects such as shortness of breath, throat irritation, wheezing, and a burning sensation in the eyes. Other symptoms from exposure include headache, nausea, and fatigue. 

How can you tell if a product is CARB 2 compliant?

Goods that meet all of the standards determined by the California Air Resources Board will be labeled as CARB 2 compliant. Other labels to look for are NAF (“no added formaldehyde”) or ULEF (“ultra-low emitting formaldehyde-based resins”); also look for the label “California Phase 2 Compliant.” 


The description page for these Shaker cabinets made by Nelson Cabinetry, for example, shows the “CARB 2 compliant” label alongside the icon for a lifetime warranty. Always look for this label as you are shopping for items to include in your next home remodel to ensure that they meet CARB’s emission standards, which are among the most stringent in the world.

What were the levels before CARB 2 compliance was introduced?

CARB first determined the standards for composite wood products in 2007 to make sure that new products did not expose people to unsafe levels of formaldehyde. Before that, formaldehyde levels in the glues and resins used to bond such products were approximately ten to twenty times higher than the levels that are currently permissible. 


If a Product Gives Off a Chemical Smell, Should I Worry That It’s Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is associated with that “new car smell,” which is a combination of formaldehyde and other chemicals. In products made of composite wood materials, there are likely other chemicals present in the paint or varnishes, so if the product is giving off an odor, it is not necessarily formaldehyde. 


However, it’s a good idea to “off-gas” a product before setting it up for regular use. You could, for example, leave a new item in the garage or a part of the house that is not used frequently to off-gas and then set it up after it is no longer emitting any chemical smells. Good ventilation will also encourage off-gassing, so it’s a good idea to open windows or run exhaust fans to dissipate any smells quickly.   



In conclusion

When it comes to CARB 2 Compliance, many homeowners and businesses choose to use engineered woods such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). These materials are CARB 2 compliant, meaning that they emit very little formaldehyde into the air.


Another great benefit of using engineered wood is that it is very durable compared to traditional wood made from a tree. Engineered woods are stronger and much more resistant to damage, making them a great choice for anyone looking to build their home on a budget.


In addition to the benefits mentioned above, following CARB 2 Compliance can also help you reduce your carbon footprint. By choosing eco-friendly materials, you can drastically improve the health of your business while also helping the environment.


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Nelson Cabinetry

Nelson Cabinetry is an online distributor of high quality kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. We pride ourselves in delivering a high quality product via an easy to use, convenient website. Placing your cabinet order has never been easier and you can do so from the comfort of your home, office or job site.


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