The risk posed by formaldehyde emissions from pressed wood products is to be investigated by the US government.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started an assessment into the possible risks posed by the emissions, including looking at the costs and benefits of control technologies, and determining what role EPA should take in addressing any identified risks.

The assessment follows a citizens’ petition received under the Toxic Substances Control Act, signed by organisations and individuals concerned by formaldehyde emissions. The issue of formaldehyde emissions “significantly increased” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina according to EPA, with temporary wooden shelters allegedly causing illness in New Orleans residents.

EPA is holding a 60-day consultation period for interested parties to table their views on the issue, as well as staging five public meetings.