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Commission likely to vote soon on upholstered furniture ANPR.

As reported in the July-August 2003 issue of CPSC Monitor, CPSC staff has proposed that the Commission issue a new Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to deal with flammability risks of upholstered furniture.

Following a staff briefing, it looks as though the Commissioners will vote soon, most likely by ballot, on the proposal.

Staff sent a briefing package to the Commission in July, recommending that the agency propose a new upholstered furniture rule that would address both the risk of cigarette ignition and the risk of small open flame (candles, lighters, and matches) ignition of upholstered furniture.

At a public briefing on Sept. 24, representatives of the industry indicated their unanimous support for a new federal rule that would pre-empt state regulations, specifically the one in California.

Eleven associations came before the Commission to state their support for a rule. They included the American Furniture Manufacturers Association, (AFMA), the Alliance for Polyurethane Institute, (API), the Polyurethane Foam Association, the Flame Retardant Chemicals Association, the Fabric Coalition, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), and the Non-Woven Fabrics Association.

Also represented were the National Association of State Fire Marshals, (NASFM), Underwriters' Laboratories (UL), and the American Hotel and Lodging Association. The unanimous consensus of the group was that it favored a federal performance standard for upholstered furniture flammability.

There are hundreds of technical questions that would need to be resolved before a rule could be promulgated. Staff believes it will not take long to draft a rule, however, since the Commission has nine years of effort behind it in this process.

Additional technical options, such as the use of flame-retardant foam, and barrier fabrics or interliners, would provide manufacturers with plenty of choices in how to comply with a new standard.

Nevertheless, several important questions remain. The bottom line is: will the new standard, if adopted, work? Will it make furniture any safer? Will it result in fewer fire deaths and injuries?

There is no question the new furniture will be more expensive.
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Publication:CPSC Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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