Paper concludes that lower fire safety standards may be justified in only a few specific furniture types. The UK has the world’s strictest fire safety regulations for domestic furniture and these regulations are currently under review (see pinfa Newsletter n°154). This study was requested by the Government as input to this revision. The authors note that open weave fabrics and foams used in furniture are highly flammable and that the flame retardants currently most used are halogenated and suspected of being SVHC (substances of very high concern). This study develops a conceptual risk assessment framework to identify certain types of furniture with a low balance of fire risk, based on literature and expert opinions, where fire safety regulation could be relaxed, so reducing flame retardant use and exposure. Fire risk and exposure were assessed for different types of furniture, different dimensions and different types of furniture. The authors state that “many materials used in furniture are inherently flammable. Until this is addressed, complete elimination of FRs may pose unacceptable fire risks” and identify a few specific clusters of furniture product types for which fire regulation requirements could be relaxed, including baby and infant products and pillows.
“Reconciling chemical flame retardant exposure and fire risk in domestic furniture”, P. Whaley et al., 2023, PLoS ONE 18(11): e0293651, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0293651