Cause for concern over the potential toxicity of some flame retardant chemicals has prompted the UK’s largest furniture association to investigate further. Findings from research into current and alternative flame-retardant technologies used in furniture and furnishings has been released in a report entitled Current and alternative flame retardants for use in upholstered furniture, carried out by FIRA International on behalf of the Furniture Industry Research Association.

“The use of flame retardants in furniture and furnishings is of great significance, especially in the UK, where fire safety of upholstery is governed by national legislation. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in prosecution, fines, and potential recall of non-compliant product already placed on the market. The potential toxicity of some flame retardants has been cause for concern, which prompted the association to investigate the situation with current flame retardants and to look at possible alternatives,” explains Phil Reynolds, director at the Furniture Industry Research Association.

Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of the presence of – and necessity for – chemicals in goods, and the effects that these chemicals might have on human health and the environment. However, the same consumers would also expect that the products that they purchase are safe in terms of fire safety.

The research aims to address a knowledge gap in which FR chemicals are currently used in products sold in the UK and to look for alternative technologies for when chemicals are reviewed for the potential environmental impacts, which can result in their restriction.

Phil continues: “The flame-retardant chemical industry is working hard to look for alternative chemicals and is actively involved in updating the furniture industry with progress through forums such as Fretwork, which work together with all sectors of the supply chain to keep abreast of issues. We hope that this research and our continuing work in this area will assist the furniture and chemical industries to work together to find solutions to issues as they arise.”

A summary of the findings from the project is available to download here, and the full report be accessed free of charge by members of the Furniture Industry Research Association.