Bad publicity dogs the US foam sector
by Liz White
Fire regulation in the US is heavily influenced by environmental groups and the current moves to ban chlorinated and brominated fire retardants is, “one of the most political events I have ever been involved in, in my career,” commented Bob Luedeka, executive director of the US Polyurethane Foam Association.
Looking generally at furniture fire regulation, Luedeka said environmentalists have influenced congress members, and this filtered down to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPS).The result was that, “after some 13 years of … trying to get an open-flame standard for furniture, that was just taken off the table,” Luedeka exclaimed.
But he thinks the new approach (see box below) “represents a fair standard in terms of the risk of injury and fire within America.”
The prospect is for the proposed open-flame standard for furniture to be dropped and replaced by smoulder ignition.
The smoulder ignition test would minimise reliance on FR chemicals, although it doesn’t ban the use of them, he said: “They have written the proposal to be very careful that it would not include a requirement for it.”
Looking at the potential US ban on chlorinated and brominated FRs, which started with a bill in the California legislature, Luedeka said, “For now we can safely say that any resemblance to good science is completely lost, and Iwould say fairly that that’s true on sides.”
The message from the environmenta lists seems…