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California board hears comments on furniture FR rule

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation held a hearing on Wednesday marking the end of a six-week public comment period on the state's proposed new upholstered furniture flammability standard.

A story in the Chicago Tribune reported that no witnesses for the chemical industry presented testimony. The hearing was attended by a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission representative who said the federal agency would not interfere in any state actions, the Tribune said.

The proposed revision to the California rule, known as TB-117-2013, has been proceeding quickly through the bureau after a directive from Gov. Jerry Brown last year calling for a revision. Officials cited concerns that chemicals used to make furniture foams flame resistant could be harmful.

The draft proposal would change the rule to require a smolder-only test to determine whether upholstery fabrics are safe enough. Many anticipate that without the current open flame test requirement, the use of chemical flame retardants in furniture foam will cease.

The draft released in February is patterned after ASTM E-1353-08a, which is based on the Upholstered Furniture Action Council method. The test shifts the emphasis from foam to seat coverings.

The rule was released on Feb. 8. BHFTI officials have said the agency will review comments in April with a likely additional 15- day comment period in May or June.

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