In 2013, Chemical Insights Research Institute began an initiative to examine flame retardants, furniture flammability and human health. Chemical Insights Research Institute held summits that brought together different stakeholders representing furniture manufacturers, material suppliers, public health experts, academic researchers, firefighters and fire experts, flame retardant manufacturers, public health advocates, and policy makers. Together they outlined public safety issues and developed a roadmap to use to fill the data gaps.
Chemical Insights Research Institute, with its toxicology laboratory and human exposure chambers, teamed with Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and additional expert partners to conduct this research.
The research showed that both fire and chemical exposure safety could be achieved by using a fire barrier material without the use of flame retardants, and that one safety measure did not have to be sacrificed for another.
As a result of the research and summits, the research report published by Chemical Insights Research Institute, “Human Health in the Built Environment: A Study of Chemical Exposure Risk and Flammability of Upholstered Furniture and Consumer Electronics,” was one of the first scientific studies to demonstrate pathways for consumer exposure to flame retardants. Researchers with Chemical Insights Research Institute and Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University found that adding fire barriers to upholstered chairs was a way to manufacture chairs without the use of chemical flame retardants that successfully addressed fire and chemical safety risks.
In 2020, the Flame Retardants and Furniture Flammability and Human Health Taskforce convened to explore flame retardants and human exposure in greater detail. “UL Guidance Document 118F: Managing Fire and Chemical Exposure Risks of Residential Upholstered Furniture” was published in April 2021 to provide actionable guidelines to interior designers and consumers, allowing them to specify and select residential furniture with reduced chemical and flame-retardant exposure and increased fire risk protection. The technical content within this document was converted into a user-friendly toolkit for specifying and designing residential upholstered furniture.
Chemical Insights Research Institute provides targeted tools and resources to support interior designers in specifying residential upholstered furniture to safeguard human health and well-being.
Protection from fire hazards and chemical risks are not mutually exclusive and both should be essential safety features of residential furniture.
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