Furniture Flammability Rules Proposed by CaliforniaSACRAMENTO, CA - New furniture flammability standards are being introduced by the State of California, intended to reduce the used of flame retardant chemicals in upholstered furniture.

The proposed furniture flammability standard would also update obsolete language and eliminate voluntary rules on furniture flammability that have not been used in practice for 10 years, according to the the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, which sets rules for the state. 

The agency, part of California's Department of Consumer Affairs, published the new proposed furniture flammability standard at its website (a copy is here) will hold a public hearing at the Department of Consumer Affairs’ 1st Floor Hearing Room located at 1625 North Market Blvd in Sacramento. March 26, 2013 at 10 a.m. Coments can also be mailed in.

Furniture flammability rules affect upholstery and the padding used in furniture production, so changes in rules affect many wood products manufacturing firms both in the U.S. and outside. California's market is so large - it is the ninth largest economy in the world - that rules adopted there drive production processes for the rest of the U.S. and foreign businesses selling there.

The impact is so significant to furniture manufacturers that the American Home Furnishings Alliance has invited the California official heading up revisions to that state's longtime flammability regulation and the scientist whose research prompted the regulatory overhaul to participate in its Feb. 20-21, 2013 Sustainability Summit at the Marriott SouthPark in Charlotte, NC.

"The environmental and health consequences of our industry's efforts to comply with longtime flammability regulations have been the subject of much debate in 2012. And the resolution of those issues is likely to impact all segments of our industry in 2013 – suppliers, manufacturers and retailers alike," says Bill Perdue, AHFA's vice president of regulatory affairs. "As a result, we have decided to devote the entire first half of our 2013 Summit to the regulatory policies, emerging science and consumer debate surrounding upholstered furniture flammability."

California's Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation notes the rationale for the proposed rule changes at its website, www.bhfti.ca.gov/about/laws/propregs.shtml

"This regulatory proposal benefits the health and welfare of California residents and the environment as it provides greater fire safety protection against smoldering materials, which are the leading ignition source of fires and losses today," says the proposed state rule governing Bureau is considering changes to Articles 1, 2, 13, and 15.5 of Division 3 of Title 4 of the California Code of Regulations as follow.

"As an added benefit, this regulatory proposal significantly reduces or eliminates manufacturers’ reliance on materials treated with flame retardant chemicals. It is the Bureau’s understanding that many manufacturers, who are no longer compelled to make materials open-flame resistant, will no longer use flame retardant chemicals in their products. Manufacturers would instead be able to purchase and use the less expensive non-flame retardant materials therefore saving in material costs."

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