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Posted on 11/07/2019
UL study shows low FR emissions from furniture

A three year study by UL assesses flame retardant exposure and fire performance of upholstered furniture with and without California TB117 (open flame test) requirement. 20 commercial design chairs were tested, 5 each of 4 types: no FR, OPFR in foam (organophosphorus TPhP + TBPP), reactive FR (not specified, reacts with the polyurethane foam during polymerisation), no foam FR but fibreglass textile barrier behind covering textile. Air emissions (VOC, aldehyde) and FRs in air, dust and dermal transfer processes were tested in the different chairs, both new and after artificial ageing, and in a TV set and a laptop computer for comparison Fire performance (TB117, smoulder resistance, full-scale open flame) and smoke emission were tested for the chairs. Conclusions are that in all cases air emissions were low with the furniture, and lower than for the electronics. FR release from the reactive FR foam was not detectable, but FRs were detected in dust and air from the OPFR chair and from the electronics products (halogenated and phosphorus FRs). The possible significance of the levels of these FR releases is not considered. None of the chairs passed TB117 but the chair using a barrier showed nearly fifty times lower peak heat release than the other chairs. Also for this chair, hydrogen cyanide was not detectable during in burn emissions, and carbon monoxide and smoke density were lower. The study concludes that TB117, which is designed to control smouldering, does not indicate reduced open flame hazards, and that the barrier technology (which is already used in furniture on the market) is effective to reduce fire hazards and chemical exposure.

TPhP = triphenyl phosphate. TBPP = tertbutyl phenyl phosphate.
“New Study from UL Chemical Safety and Emory University Demonstrates Ways for Reducing Flame Retardant Exposure and Flammability Hazards of Residential Furniture” 23 April 2019 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-study-from-ul-chemical-safety-and-emory-university-demonstrates-ways-for-reducing-flame-retardant-exposure-and-flammability-hazards-of-residential-furniture-300833002.html and full study report https://ulchemicalsafety.org//wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Human-Health-in-the-Built-Environment_FINAL.pdf

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