European Furniture Industries Confederation
Rue Montoyer, 24, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
31 October 2019
The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture raises concerns over the British Government’s response to the British Parliamentary EAC report on ‘Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life’
Brussels, 31 October 2019 - The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture is concerned about the response of the British Government of 30 October to the recommendations given by the British Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in their report ‘Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life’ of 16 July, as the actions proposed by the Government will be likely to retain the current levels of potentially harmful chemicals in furniture for some years.
The Alliance entirely supports the EAC’s report ‘Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life’. The UK Government needs urgently to act on the findings and implement the recommendations of the EAC report without losing any more valuable time.
The EAC had recommended, among other points, that the British Government brings the UK into line with the rest of the EU by developing a new flammability test standard based on the EU’s smoulder test and California’s standard Technical Bulletin 117–2013 and that the dangers posed to furniture workers from the handling and use of foams and flame retardants need to be assessed.
The British Government’s envisages a new approach to furniture fire safety regulation, consisting of developing new legislation supported by technical standards in collaboration with the British Standards institution, which will be followed by a public consultation. This Alliance believes that these actions will further delay reforming the outdated fire regulations, which are no longer fit for purpose. The fact that the regulations are not fit for purpose has been proven and as such this Alliance also is concerned about the fact that the British Government does not plan to undertake further research to assess the dangers posed to furniture workers from the handling and use of foams and flame retardants, as it considers the current regulatory framework adequate.
Alternative and innovative solutions exist to chemical flame retardants and the presumption that fire safety is best met by the use of these chemicals is wrong. As a matter of fact, toxicity of fires caused by the presence of chemicals is a field of major concern. This Alliance believes that smoulder ignition tests should be put in place instead of open flame tests that require the use of flame retardants. This approach takes into account the flammability requirements, chemical exposure and consumer protection to make safe fire safety possible. In addition to this, the Alliance strongly supports the promotion of a fire safety culture (education to consumers on tools, such as sprinklers and fire alarms) to achieve behavioural changes in consumers.
___________________________ About the Flame Retardants Free Furniture Alliance
The Flame Retardants Free Furniture Alliance was created in 2016. It gathers the furniture industry, health and environmental NGOs, trade unions and firefighters in the call for flame retardant free furniture. See the Alliance’s policy paper and website for further information!