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USA: California Upholstered furniture flammability

June, 2014

 

California is currently the only state that has mandatory flammability regulations for upholstered furniture for residential use. The standard which has been used to fulfil this requirement, TB 117, is more than 40 years old and needed to be updated to reflect modern manufacturing methods that can reduce the use of harmful chemicals.

The new standard, TB 117-2013 “Requirements, Test Procedure and Apparatus for Testing the Smolder Resistance of Materials Used in Upholstered Funiture”, was approved by the States’ Governor and published on 22 November 2013 by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI). TB 117-2013 came into effect on 1 January 2014 and from 1 January 2015, all upholstered furniture sold in California must meet the requirements of this standard.

The new standard includes test methods that are designed for the assessment of the resistance of upholstered furniture component assemblies to combustion after exposure to smouldering cigarettes under specified conditions. Unlike TB 117 which only covers resilient filling materials, TB 117-2013 covers the following four upholstered furniture components: cover fabrics, barrier materials, resilient filling materials and decking materials. Separate test methods are provided for each of the materials, and they refer to different sections of ASTM E1353-08aε1 for the test specimen preparation and/or test procedure.

The previous standard includes an open-flame test for filling materials, such as foam, which were treated with flame retardants. However, the new standard eliminates this as the most common ignition sources of fires are smouldering sources such as cigarettes, space heaters and extension cords. Under the new standard, manufacturers can meet the requirements by using smoulder-resistant cover fabrics or smoulder-resistant barriers beneath the cover fabrics, thus removing the need to use harmful flame retardant chemicals in the filling materials.

In addition, the exemption scope for childcare products has been extended to cover the following: bassinets, booster seats, car seats, changing pads, floor play mats, highchairs, highchair pads, infant bouncers, infant carriers, infant seats, infant swings, infant walkers, nursing pads, nursing pillows, playpen side pads, playards, portable hook-on chairs, and strollers. Articles manufactured in accordance with a written prescription or other comparable written medical therapeutic specification by physicians, chiropractors or osteopaths are also exempted. Under TB 117-2013, exempted products no longer require labelling.

An FAQs is also available to help answer specific questions regarding the testing requirements, record keeping and certification, and labelling, etc.

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