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The State of California approved a new standard for upholstered furniture flammability: Technical Bulletin (TB) 117 - 2013. Upholstered furniture manufactured on and after January 1, 2015, will have to meet the requirements of the TB 117-2013 standard. Beginning January 1, 2014, manufacturers may start manufacturing to the new standard so they will have a year to complete the transition.
For about 40 years, upholstered furniture manufactured in the State of California had to meet the flammability requirements of standard TB 117-2000. This standard required filling materials like foam to pass an open flame test, which is very stringent. In order to meet this requirement, the combustion property of the foam had to be modified by treating it with flame-retardant chemicals.
Use of some of these flame retardants came under scrutiny due to the hazards they pose to human health and environmental safety. As a result, last year California Governor Jerry Brown directed State agencies to review and revise the upholstered furniture flammability standard. Based on this direction, the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) and Department of Consumer Affairs proposed the new standard, TB 117 – 2013, for testing upholstered furniture flammability. The new standard uses a smoldering resistance test for cover fabrics and filling materials and allows use of barrier materials for smolder-prone materials. Because the filling materials will no longer be subjected to open flame testing, some manufacturers have indicated they will not have to use flame retardants to treat the filling materials like foam as they will be able to meet the requirements of TB 117-2013 standard by using smolder-resistant cover fabrics or smolder-resistant barriers beneath the cover fabrics.
For questions, please contact:
Dr. Pratik Ichhaporia