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Ray Allegrezza

Consider consumer in debate over FR

Ray AllegrezzaRay Allegrezza
As expected, the sparks are already flying over California's recent announcement that it wants to eliminate a longstanding regulation that requires the use of chemical flame retardants in upholstery.
     The fire safety standards, which have been on the books in California since the 1970s, require that any foam used in furniture cushions withstand a 12-second exposure to a small open flame without igniting.
     But now, California wants to eliminate the open flame test and replace it with a smolder-only test, which it says will enable upholstery makers to be compliant without flame retardants.
     Not surprisingly, this has evoked a strongly worded reply from the American Chemistry Council, which in response to a study released by Heather M. Stapleton and others on the use of flame retardants in U.S. sofas, said, "This study confirms what we would expect to find: Furniture manufacturers use flame retardants to meet established fire safety standards, which help save lives. There is no data in this study that indicates that the levels of flame retardants found would cause any human health problems.
     "Statistics show that home fires from open flame ignition sources are still a significant problem. Flame retardants can be an effective way to meet fire safety standards, and are designed to prevent fires from starting and if a fire does occur, slow its spread and provide valuable escape time...."
     But while this debate gathers steam, there is another voice - that of the consumer - that needs to be heard. I came across one blog from Sarah Janssen, titled
     "My Toxic Couch's Days Are Numbered: New Furniture Flammability Standard Proposed." She writes, "I spend a lot of my weekends snuggled up on the couch with my family, but since I found out my couch is toxic, I've been spending a lot more time on the floor."
     If she has a problem, you have a problem.
     When she comes into your store, will you be equipped to put out the fire?

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