Flame Retardant: Industry Speculations & Continued Fire Safety Concern
There has been a lot of new development with flame retardants recently with the upheaval over the chemicals’ effect on the health of people and their pets. While new cases are being pushed to ban certain flame retardants from the market, the importance of the purpose of flame retardants still remains a concern.
Flame retardants are commonly used in textiles to reduce the likelihood of spreading a flame in case of a fire. While many materials without a retardant can melt and spread quickly to other flammable materials, a flame retardant fabric would make that process less likely. Annual fire records from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security claim over 2,500 people die and 12,600 people are injured from fires. Fires are also costing more than $7.3 billion annually in damages. It’s clear why flame retardant chemicals are important not only for the protection of assets, but also people’s lives.
In a recent press release posted on the American Chemical Society Press Room, researchers stated that upholstery furniture and mattresses not coated with a flame retardant and made of polyurethane materials are some of the first things to ignite in 17,000 fires per year. FEMA posts on its website the dangers of rapid fire spreading. In two minutes, an ignited mattress can spread in a home to a life threatening degree. In only five minutes, the entire home could be in flames. This is an especially intimidating statistic for families with small children or pets.
In 2007, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission passed the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. This standard enforced that mattresses manufactured after 2007 are at or above a set performance standard for the amount of heat released if the mattress caught fire. The standard was said to prevent 270 deaths and over 1,300 injuries.
The US Navy also took notice of the hazards of flammable materials. According to an article posted at the end of May 2013 via ABC News, the Navy plans to implement flame-resistant uniforms for their sailors. The Navy is reinstating the standard after terminating it back in 1996 due to poor flexibility and high cost. After a study proved how flammable the current uniforms truly are, the Navy admirals supported the change. The implementation is set to occur over a three year period.
As reported by Freedonia Group, the flame retardant industry is planned to see a demand increase of 5.6% each year through 2016. Part of this increase is in response to the recovery of the economy. With construction, housing, and US automotive industry upturns, the need for flame resistant materials will increase due to these industries’ demands for the products. Internationally, developing nations are also understanding the importance of fire safety regulation and increasingly utilizing flame resistant products in their new construction and development efforts.
With current health hazard concerns, the spotlight has been put on bromine and chlorine free flame retardants. As demand in general increases, so do opportunities for alternative flame retardants. While the market is dominated by the brominated and chlorinated retardants, many are starting to look at alternatives to reduce health risks. Make sure you’re considering all the options available to best select flame retardants for your products. Solutions exist to keep your products safe, both from fire and for families.
Visit our Specialty Chemicals line to learn more about flame retardant options for your applications.