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The UK has some of the highest fire safety standards in the world. The role of flame retardant chemicals in enabling consumer products to fulfil these fire resistance requirements is well recognised. However, concerns have been raised about whether some flame retardant chemicals may present potential unacceptable risks to human health and the environment, and there have been various risk assessment studies on these aspects.
The aim of this project is to review the available technologies for achieving flame retardant properties in key product groups, and to determine best practice in terms of achieving appropriate safety standards with minimal environmental impact.
- Provide a summary of the legislative landscape (including UK, EU and US developments, and covering both fire safety requirements and restrictions on substances used).
- Provide a UK and EU market analysis to provide an insight into the key technologies currently used in different products in the UK and EU and emerging trends.
- Undertake a review of latest scientific knowledge and risk assessment conclusions of the hazardous nature of flame retardants.
- Undertake a review of alternative approaches to flame retardancy, including reactive technologies and physical barriers / use of naturally fire retardant materials, together with an indication of relative costs of the different approaches.
- Provide a recommendation, for each key product group, of the fire retardancy approach with the best performance in terms of environmental impact. This will be accompanied by an assessment of the level to which this optimum approach is already employed by industry and, if applicable, the ease with which it could be taken up by the mass market and associated costs. Case studies will be used to illustrate this.
- In the light of the study findings, review and comment will be made on the latest criteria set under the EU Ecolabel for the consumer products of interest.
Types of Product
The study will focus on the following products:
- Products covered by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988: "items which contain upholstery: beds, headboards, mattresses, sofa-beds, nursery furniture, garden furniture which can be used indoors, furniture in new caravans, scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows and loose and stretch covers for furniture".
- Clothing textiles and nightwear
- Consumer Electronics
Types of Application
The study will consider both consumer products and commercial products (for example, furnishings for public use areas which may be subject to more stringent fire protection standards).
Types of FR Technology
The study will consider all methods of achieving flame retardancy in products, including additive, reactive, barrier and other relevant technologies or design solutions. Where appropriate, brominated compounds will be considered alongside mineral and organophosphate based substances.
The study will focus on the specific UK situation in terms of fire safety legislation but will take account of European and international (particularly US) technological developments and market trends, to determine leading technologies and best practice.