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Upholstery Safety: Fire Retardant Chemicals and Standards

Furniture upholstery is an essential part of our homes, offices, and public spaces. It provides comfort and aesthetic appeal, but more importantly, it must also provide safety. One aspect of upholstery safety that is often overlooked is fire safety. Fire safety is critical to ensuring the safety of people and property in the event of a fire. To achieve fire safety, furniture manufacturers use fire-retardant chemicals in their products. In this article, we will discuss fire-retardant chemicals, their impact on human health, and the industry standards that regulate their use.

Fire-retardant chemicals are used to slow down or prevent the spread of fire in upholstered furniture. These chemicals are often added to the foam or fabric used in furniture construction. Fire-retardant chemicals can be divided into two categories: naturally occurring and synthetic. Naturally occurring fire-retardants include boron, aluminum, and magnesium. Synthetic fire-retardants, on the other hand, include chlorinated and brominated flame retardants.

Does Upholstery Fabric Need To Be Fire Retardant In The UK?

The use of fire-retardant chemicals in furniture has been the subject of much debate in recent years. There are concerns about the health effects of these chemicals, particularly the synthetic ones. Some studies have found that synthetic flame retardants can be harmful to human health, causing a range of health problems, including cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and hormone disruption.

One of the primary concerns about synthetic fire-retardants is that they can leach out of the furniture over time and enter the environment. They can then enter the food chain and have been found in wildlife, as well as human breast milk. The health effects of exposure to these chemicals are not yet fully understood, but it is clear that they can have harmful effects on human health.

In response to these concerns, several countries have started to regulate the use of fire-retardant chemicals in furniture. The most significant of these regulations is the California Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117), which was introduced in California in 1975. TB 117 requires furniture sold in California to be able to withstand a fire test without igniting. This regulation has been adopted by several other states, and it has led to the widespread use of fire-retardant chemicals in furniture sold in the United States.

Despite these regulations, there is still some uncertainty about the upholstery safety of fire-retardant chemicals. In 2013, California passed a new regulation, TB 117-2013, which requires furniture manufacturers to label their products if they contain more than a certain amount of fire-retardant chemicals. This regulation was introduced in response to concerns about the health effects of these chemicals, and it has made it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the furniture they buy.

In addition to the regulations in California, there are also international standards that regulate the use of fire-retardant chemicals in furniture. The International Association for the Assessment and Application of Fire Retardancy (IAAFR) sets the standards for fire-retardant chemicals used in furniture and other products. The IAAFR also provides a database of fire-retardant chemicals and their safety and performance characteristics.

Conclusion

Fire safety is an essential aspect of upholstery safety, and fire-retardant chemicals play a critical role in ensuring the safety of people and property in the event of a fire. However, there are concerns about the health effects of these chemicals, particularly the synthetic ones. In response to these concerns, several countries have introduced regulations to regulate the use of fire-retardant chemicals in furniture.

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