AHFA Issues Flame Retardant Position StatementNovember 30, 2012
The American Home Furnishings Alliance says the jury's still out on upholstery flame retardants that garnered headlines in news reports this week.
“A recent Duke University/University of California-Berkeley study found that a majority of sofas contain some level of flame retardant chemicals," read the position statement AHFA issued in response to the study. "The American Home Furnishings Alliance is not aware of any evidence, and there is none in this study, linking the level of flame retardants typically found in home furnishings to human health problems.
"Nevertheless, we agree with the authors of the study that additional research should be conducted on the chemicals currently used as flame retardants. These chemicals are used in the home furnishings industry for the sole purpose of meeting a stringent flammability standard mandated by the state of California."
AHFA noted that California regulators themselves are now questioning their standard and the reliance it created on flame retardant chemicals.
"AHFA is working with those state officials in their efforts to balance the desire for the highest possible level of fire safety with the equally important goal of limiting exposure to potentially harmful chemicals," the statement continued.
AHFA pointed out that over the past 25 years, the number of U.S. household fires involving upholstered furniture has been reduced by more than 85 percent, due to compliance with the voluntary Upholstered Furniture Action Council standard; fewer smokers; increased use of residential smoke detectors; and, most recently, development of reduced ignition propensity cigarettes.
Because of the positive results achieved by these industry and societal changes, AHFA has for many years advocated a federal flammability standard based on the UFAC smolder test--and argued that point before a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C. as recently as August 2012.