Posted on 19/10/2022 in Fire Safety Regulatory 2022
Regulatory and testing

Tim Reilly, Clariant, summarised regulatory developments in the USA, underlining that this is largely driven by NGOs, often via political action in one or a few States. Federal action has mainly targeted “PBT” chemicals (Persistent, Bio-accumulative, Toxic), concerning a number of brominated FRs. States have different approaches, ranging from positions against nearly all FRs (e.g. New York, pinfa Newsletter n°135) to more measured assessments of different FRs, fire safety and applications (Washington, pinfa Newsletter n°140). Increasingly, NGOs argue that the only way to ensure FR safety, in particular in recycling, is to move to FRs with low hazard properties. In conclusion, FR users should anticipate regulatory developments, avoid any FR which is possibly PBT or with problematic hazard properties (health or environment risks) and use 3rd party chemical hazard data to support this selection (e.g. US EPA, GreenScreen, ChemFORWARD)

James Zhou, Avient, summarised fire testing, noting that there is not one best test, but a range of tests for different fire behaviours of materials: thermal degradation, ease of ignition, ease of extinction, dripping and flaming droplets, flame spread, heat release rate, fire endurance, smoke emission, toxic gas emission and char formation. Correlations between different fire tests, in particular small-scale to larger-scale, were discussed. New developments in standards include fire tests for EV batteries and the wildland – urban interface.

Lauren Heine, ChemFORWARD, presented the NGO’s globally harmonised repository of chemical hazard assessment data (see pinfa Newsletter n°141). This provides readily accessible and useable information on chemical ingredients identified by EC and CAS number and/or by trade name, reviewed by toxicologists and peer-challenged, for downstream users. Such information is necessary to respond to criteria such as EPEAT (Global Electronics Council: Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) which represents over 2 billion US$ annual purchasing (specified by US Federal Executive Order). EPEAT is currently working to reduce chemicals of concern, in particular certain flame retardants, plasticisers and PFAS.

Panel discussion moderated by Scott Marko, SPE (Society of Plastics Engineers), the speakers, Anteneh Worku, FR Adviser and Steve Scherrer, Lanxess, answered participant questions on different PIN FRs and on appropriate fire tests for different applications. On regulatory questions, the panellists emphasised that there are many information sources, including regulatory agencies, 3rd party organisations (see above), pinfa and importantly FR suppliers (including on safety data sheets).

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