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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Consumer Agency Proposes Flammability Regulations

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving to issue new flammability regulations designed to improve the safety of mattresses and other bedding products. In issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking covering flammability of mattresses (Federal Register 16 CFR 2470), the commission said it already has a standard covering cigarette ignition but does not address mattress fires started by open flames. The most common open flame sources area lighters, candles and matches. A burning mattress generally provides the biggest fuel load in a typical bedroom fire, and once the mattress ignites, the fire develops rapidly, creating dangerous flashover conditions, the point at which an entire room can be engulfed in flames.CPSC also has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address open-flame ignition of top-of-the-bed products, such as comforters, mattress pads, pillows, blankets, sheets and pillowcases.

The California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation already has a standard addressing open flame ignition of mattresses that went into effect earlier this month, and it has under consideration a standard covering top-of-the-bed products. Home furnishings manufacturers hope the federal standard will track the one in California, and thereby result in essentially a single standard nationwide.

January 2005