Posted on 01/02/2017 in News 32 2017
Smouldering cigarette test for furniture not effective

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a 65 page report concluding against federal adoption of the California TB117-2013 ‘smolder resistance’ test. The report concludes that this test “does not address the hazard of smoldering ignition” for upholstered furniture, and that a small flame test would also be inadequate because of the variability of furniture textiles and foams.

Benefits of a US mandatory smouldering resistance requirement for furniture are considered limited because 90% of furniture is already today conform. The report indicates that in the USA some 4 700 fires, 390 deaths, 660 injuries and US$238 million property damage are attributable to fires where upholstered furniture is the first item ignited. This does not take into account impacts of fires igniting in other items and then spreading through furniture. CPSC concludes that a US mandatory small flame test (NPR) would bring fire safety benefits of around US$420 million/year, compared to costs to the furniture industry of only $32-357 million, but that the benefits cannot be confirmed without validation of bench-scale tests. The report indicates that, to date, it is not clear whether the change in California furniture fire regulation (from small flame to smouldering cigarette resistance) has modified use of flame retardants. The report includes a “Health Science Review” (TAB C: dated 5/8/2016) assessing flame retardant chemicals. This concludes that the health effects of flame retardants “concern CPSC staff” but that assessment has shown that “some FRs could be used without presenting hazards to consumers”*. Finally, CPSC concludes to recommend no further development of federal smouldering or small flame tests for furniture.

CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) Staff Briefing Package “The Feasibility, Benefits and Costs of Adopting TB 117-2013 as a Mandatory National Standard”, September 8th, 2016 

* CPSC indicate as not presenting hazard to consumers: Melamine, Cyclic phosponate esters (CPE), Decabromodiphenyl oxide (DBDPO), 2-Ethylhexyl diphenyl phosphate (EHDP), Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and Phosphonic acid, (3-([hydroxymethyl]amino)-3-oxopropyl)-, dimethyl ester (PA) but as potentially problematic or lacking data: Antimony Trioxide (AT), Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TDCPP), and Tetrakis(hydroxymethyl) phosphonium chloride (THPC), Firemaster-550TM.

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