01/21/2014

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Chemtura challenges revised CA TB 117 flammability test

Chemtura is claiming that the new regulation and the proposed smoulder test will weaken fire safety standards and create a serious risk to California consumers. Chemtura already offers a new halogen-free flame retardant, Emerald NH-1, specifically for flexible polyurethane foams used in automotive and furniture applications. Chemtura representatives believe that a lawsuit is necessary to obtain a judicial review of the revised rules, which went into effect 1 January 2014. The lawsuit also points out that the California Bureau had previously stated that an open-flame test was crucial to a viable national fire safety standard in 2008. "The revised rules require furniture makers to pass only a cigarette smolder test and eliminates a vital requirement - required by the law mandating the Bureau (California Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation) to establish fire safety standards - that all filling material used in upholstered furniture pass an open-flame test to replicate a candle, match or lighter flame,” said Anne Noonan, Senior Vice President, Industrial Engineered Products, Chemtura. "If left unchallenged, California's revised, weakened fire safety standard could tragically lead to more fires and more injuries, deaths and property damage nationwide.” "As a member of the industry that develops and supplies products to prevent fire injuries and deaths, we are filing this lawsuit to defend the need for a standard that provides more fire protection, not less; and to require the Bureau to adhere to its statutory obligations in the rulemaking process,” Noonan said. "We are seeking a judgment that will throw out the revised standard - a standard that does not provide protection from open-flame ignition sources, as mandated by law. Our hope is that the court will throw out the revised standard. While an open-flame standard is paramount for safety, we believe an ideal result would be that the Bureau will develop a new standard that addresses both smoulder and open-flame ignition sources, which would improve, rather than weaken, fire safety.” Andy Counts, CEO for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, told a US trade magazine  that "California officials conducted a robust review of the available science, including new studies completed since the 2008 flammability debate Chemtura cites in its justification for challenging TB-117-2013.” Counts said: "Current data shows that smoulder ignition remains the primary source of household fires involving upholstered furniture. In addition, while California officials have moved to a smoulder test within their standard, they also agreed to continue studying the remaining hazards of small open-flame ignition sources and the best way to address those hazards.” Arlene Blum, PhD and visiting scholar, chemistry, at the University of California, Berkeley, and the executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, who has consistently campaigned against the use of flame retardants, said that she thinks the new standard represents a positive change for consumers. "The new TB-117-2013 will provide an enormous consumer benefit,” Blum said. "To meet the old standard, the foam used in furniture had to contain flame retardants. Hundreds of scientific papers document that these chemicals are harmful to human and animal health. The new standard allows manufacturers to provide increased fire safety without the use of toxic flame retardants.”

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