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- Presentation to Calif. EFC 9: Use of Combustion Modifying Additives in Flexible Polyurethane Foam
- Fire Safety Education PSAs and Video
- Slide show: Facts on Flammability
- Position Statement on Flammability Testing of Upholstered Furniture
- Slide Show: Effects of Combustion Modifying Additiveson FPF Physical Properties
- Flammability Review: Proceedings of May 8, 2002 Industry Meeting
- PFA Statement on Furniture and Fillings Flammability for CBS News, Feb. 17, 2004
- Basics of Polyurethane Foam and the Use of Combustion Modifying Additives
- Statement on pentaBDE Combustion Modifying Additives
- News Release Announcing Conversion from PBDE Combustion Modifying Additives, Jan. 17, 2005
- PFA Addresses American Home Furnishings Alliance Flammability Workshop - March 20, 2008
Polyurethane Foam Association News Release
Polyurethane Foam Association
Members Successfully Phase Out
PBDE Flame Retardant Additives
January 17, 2005 Knoxville, Tenn. - Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA)
manufacturing members report an almost total phase out of the use of
pentabrominateddiphenylether-based (pentaBDE) flame retardant additives
in the manufacturing of foam grades for use in home furnishings cushioning
applications. PentaBDE, octaBDE and decaBDE are members of the polybrominateddiphenylether
(PBDE) group of fire retardant chemicals. OctaBDE and decaBDE additives
are not used in the manufacturing of flexible polyurethane foam. The
announcement was made after almost two years of conversion work on the
part of PFA's manufacturing members and their suppliers of combustion
For more than 25 years, pentaBDE additives have been the predominate fire retardant used to help meet the requirements of the Calif. TB117 upholstered furniture flammability standard. TB117 does not apply to mattresses. Currently, fire retardant additives are not required in mattress products. The new California mattress flammability standard (Calif. TB603) that became effective January 1, 2005 requires that finished mattresses be ignition and combustion resistant, but it does not require that mattress components, including foam, perform in a specific manner. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently announced intent to mandate a similar national mattress flammability standard.
According to Bob Luedeka, PFA Executive Director, the conversion process was one of the most complicated issues ever presented to the flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) industry. "Penta-based combustion modifiers were not only effective as fire retardants, the additives contributed other benefits during the foam manufacturing process, and they did not significantly detract from the comfort, support and durability of the final cushioning products. " Luedeka explained, "So, the problem of finding substitutes for pentaBDE-based products was multi-faceted and complicated by the fact that FPF manufacturing is not a standardized process. Each production facility uses proprietary manufacturing technologies, so each manufacturer had to develop a unique conversion strategy." Vincent Bonaddio, Foamex International Senior Vice-President and President of the PFA, reported that flame retardant suppliers have been responsive to the need for pentaBDE replacement technologies. "Working together with FPF manufacturers, the suppliers were able to commercialize a handful of possible substitutes that could be evaluated by FPF manufacturers," Bonaddio said.
The conversion goals were to:
- provide the desired level of combustion resistance;
- meet environmental, health and safety objectives;
- maintain physical comfort support and durability;
- protect the foam product from excessive discoloration during production;
- avoid sacrificing certain product grades that were very soft and / or low density for non-weight bearing applications;
- sustain reasonable economics so that end products remain
Bonaddio added, "In many cases, finding an alternative combustion modification technology for a particular foam product was a very challenging process. Converting from pentaBDE materials essentially required a complete reformulation of our entire combustion modified product line."
Luedeka reported that, based on the results of a recent poll of PFA
manufacturing members, more than 98% of previous pentaBDE-based combustion
modified product lines now are pentaBDE-free formulations. "With
the exception of a handful of specialty products and a small quantity
of traditional cushioning products manufactured to customer specification,
PFA members have successfully engineered solutions and now have alternative
pentaBDE-free products for almost all combustion modified FPF densities
and firmness to meet current flammability requirements."
Furniture manufacturers are urged to contact a PFA manufacturing member for information on pentaBDE-free cushioning alternatives.
The manufacturing members of the Polyurethane Foam Association produce
about 70% of all flexible polyurethane foam used in the United States.
Flexible polyurethane foam provides long-term comfort and support for
upholstered furniture, mattress products, automotive interiors and carpet
installations. The PFA was founded in 1980.
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