A national trade publication today released an exhaustively researched article on flame retardants (“Ablaze Over Furniture Fires”) that sheds light on how leading experts view the chemicals. We found the following observations, as reported by William G. Schulz of Chemical & Engineering News, particularly insightful.
Regarding some efforts to reduce fire-safety standards:
Nearly every fire-safety, fire-test-standards, and flame-retardant-materials expert C&EN has spoken with over the past few months has expressed anger and frustration with Blum’s campaign and what they say is a foolish drive to weaken the TB 117 standard because of chemophobia. The California fire standards for upholstered furniture work, they say, and the state’s own fire statistics since the rule went into effect back them up.
Regarding a National Institute of Standards & Technology study on the efficacy of flame retardants:
‘This work determined that escape time for building occupants can rise significantly with the use of fire retardants,’ says NIST Senior Research Scientist Richard G. Gann, who organized the project. ‘Fire retardants can decrease the amount of a flammable product—such as foam used to cushion furniture—that burns and can slow the rate of that burning.’
Regarding the layer of protection flame retardants provide:
‘Flame-retardant chemicals are effective. There’s no doubt about it,’ says Matthew S. Blais, director of the Fire Technology Research Laboratory at Southwest Research Institute(SWRI), a nonprofit, independent testing laboratory in San Antonio. Recent fire-testing results at SWRI facilities for the National Institute of Justice, part of the Department of Justice, back up his assertions.