Becky Gillette has long fought for stronger public protections against formaldehyde emissions. The Sierra Club's Volunteer Formaldehyde Campaign Director, Gillette first became involved in this issue when high levels of formaldehyde were harming the health of the families living in the emergency trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Formaldehyde is used in adhesives to make building materials and products, and exposure to the chemical can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and, in certain cases, cancer.
So on Wednesday, Gillette and many others applauded the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal of a new safeguard that will limit formaldehyde emissions that comes from the manufacture of wood products.
Gillette helped champion the law directing the EPA to instate this safeguard, a law passed by Congress in 2010 with widespread support from industry, especially the Composite Panel Association, and bipartisan majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate.
"This protection will benefit all Americans since these wood products -- commonly known as particle board or pressed wood -- are used in thousands of products such as furniture, cabinets and flooring," said Gillette, who's been called "the Erin Brockovich of formaldehyde." She's also won awards for her commitment to the issue.
The next step is for the EPA to move quickly forward in finalizing this long overdue protection, added Gillette. The EPA must also ensure that imported wood complies with the standard.