Issue Date: September 23, 2013 | Web Date: September 19, 2013
California Takes Aim At Flame Retardants
California would take the first step toward eliminating legal requirements for flame-retardant chemical additives in plastic foam building insulation, under a bill before Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. (D). He is expected to sign it.
Plastic foam insulation is a key component of many commercial and residential buildings. This material is flammable, so to meet building codes, makers of insulation add flame retardants. Those standards also generally require use of a thermal barrier, which delays ignition of the insulation during a fire.
Earlier this month, the California State Legislature passed a bill, AB 127, in response to concerns about potential risk from some flame retardants, such as hexabromocyclododecane. Critics who oppose the use of flame retardants and question the chemicals’ effectiveness argue that the state should change its standards and allow insulation without retardants.
The bill wouldn’t directly change building fire-safety standards. Instead, it would require the California fire marshal to review current flammability standards for building insulation. The fire marshal could then propose updated standards that do not mandate foam fire-retardant additives. Should California change the standards, it could pave the way for other states to follow suit.
The Energy Efficient Foam Coalition, part of the industry association American Chemistry Council, pledges to work with the fire marshal “to validate the existing flammability standards.”
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
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