The "Proceedings of Furniture Flammability and Human Health Summit," from the third annual Furniture Flammability and Human Health Leadership Summit, is also now available to stakeholders. The proceedings from UL Chemical Safety's Summit, in partnership with Emory University, share summaries of presentations and technical discussions that were given by stakeholders. The goal of the Summit was to foster the exchange of information for more collaborative discussions, research, innovation, informed policy advancement, and science-based initiatives leading to fire- and chemical-safe products.
Research from the study, conducted over a three-year period, revealed that dermal transfer by skin contact is a primary way that adults can be exposed to flame retardants in upholstered furniture. The research indicated that children are at the greatest risk of exposure by ingestion, resulting from frequent hand-to-mouth contact with settled dust. The research also measured the impact of different fire prevention technologies on the flammability of chairs, and the potential of flame retardant exposure for first responders.
The study comes at a time when many public health professionals and scientists have grown increasingly concerned with the human exposure and health hazards of some chemical flame retardants. These chemicals are often added for fire protection in resilient foams of commercial and residential furniture and in other materials of consumer products.
According to P. Barry Ryan, PhD, professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Emory'sRollins School of Public Health, "Understanding flame retardant exposure pathways and exposure levels is very important as we begin to develop strategies for reducing exposure, especially for children."
By studying human chemical exposure to flame retardants, researchers derived scientific data to support advancing the fire and chemical safety of furniture, including the use of a barrier material in upholstered furniture products between the resilient foam and cover fabric and the reduction of flame retardants.
"With the public's increasing concern about chemicals in our everyday products and the consumer expectation for safer products, our research has generated important data to help us better understand how we can reduce exposure to flame retardants while reducing fire hazards as well, said Dr. Marilyn Black, vice president and senior technical advisor at UL. "We hope the scientific insights gleaned from the study can lead to more chemical- and fire-safe products in the market."
Moreover, to reduce exposure to flame retardants and other indoor contaminants, Dr. Black recommends that consumers:
Dust all internal surfaces frequently with a disposable wet cloth
Vacuum floors, surfaces and furniture frequently with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum
Wash hands frequently to avoid hand-to-mouth transfer, especially before eating
Wash furry indoor pets frequently
Provide regular fresh air ventilation
Repair any furniture tears that expose inside materials.
The research was funded by a grant to Dr. Ryan from Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
To find out more about UL Chemical Safety and its furniture flammability and other chemical exposure research, visit www.ulchemicalsafety.org.
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CONTACT: Gillan Ritchie Research Communications Specialist UL Chemical Safety T: (678) 444.4035