LONDON—Changes to the United Kingdom's foam flammability standard (BS 5852) look unlikely, according to a source close to the matter.
The regulation came under scrutiny in March 2014, as the previous government reacted to U.S. concerns over the potential toxicity of flame retardants in furniture foam.
The United Kingdom's Department of Business Innovation and Skills consulted on a proposal that would have changed the test filling material from the current non-combustion modified foam to combustion modified foam. It would also have exempted fabric that pass the match test from the cigarette test and remove the current cigarette test requirement for invisible linings.
It appears that “absolute” opposition from the U.K. Fire Brigades Union and the Fire Protection Association to any mitigation in the BS 5852 test has stopped the changes. In their view, our source said such a procedure would be a lowering of public safety.
BIS decided to start the review because of pressure on brominated flame retardants in cover fabrics, said Terry Edge, policy manager of the Consumer Product Safety team at BIS.
The proposal to change the standard had been mooted in order to maintain product safety, reduce the costs to industry of sofa manufacture and to make foam-upholstered products greener, Edge said.
It was suggested that the United Kingdom's furniture manufacturing industry could save anywhere from about $42 million to $72 million from lower levels of flame retardant and the removal of the cigarette test. Representatives of the U.K. foam and furniture industry opposed such moves on grounds of public safety and on the basis that it was unlikely that such savings could be made.