Contact: Bryan Goodman, 202-249-6510   

WASHINGTON (July 2, 2013)  - The nation's leading advocacy organization for flame retardant producers and users provided formal comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this week encouraging the agency to adopt a strong national standard for testing the flammability of upholstered furniture. The comments from the American Chemistry Council's  North American Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA) echo others in detailing the need for both an open flame test, such as exposure to matches, lighters and candles, as well as a "smolder" test, such as exposure to a cigarette. The comments come as CPSC considers various measures for inclusion in national flammability regulations for upholstered furniture.

"To ensure adequate fire safety, and allow compliance flexibility, the Commission must consider a standard that requires compliance with both the smoldering and open flame ignition tests," wrote Steve Risotto, NAFRA's senior director.

NAFRA's comment to CPSC cited data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) showing that an open flame test is a critical element for protection of public safety. The data show that fire fatalities and fire injuries originating with upholstered furniture items are among the most serious fire problems in the United States. Ignition from upholstered furniture still contributes to the highest rates of home fire deaths. Research findings released in May 2011 by NFPA found that children under the age of five and seniors over the age of 65 were at the highest risk for fire-related deaths.

Risotto explains that California saw an improvement in fire safety, because of its open flame test. He noted that between 1982 and 1991, the period in which California's open flame test was being implemented, fires in the state decreased by 50 percent and the number of fire deaths decreased by nearly 83 percent.

"California fire statistics suggest that the state's mandate for open flame testing has contributed significantly to improved fire safety of upholstered furniture," he said. While noting that flame retardants may not be the only way to meet an open flame test, Risotto highlighted the affordability and effectiveness of the chemistries.

The deadline to submit comments to CPSC was July 1.


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