Vol. 1203 | 16 Dec 2020

Under the U.S. Flammable Fabrics Act, 16 CFR 1632 is the federal standard for flammability of mattresses and mattress pads. 16 CFR 1632 evaluates the ignition resistance of a mattress or mattress pad when exposed to a lighted cigarette using pass/fail criteria. The test uses lighted cigarettes placed at specified locations on the surface of a mattress or mattress pad.

To ensure consistent and repeatable results, the standard refers to the standard reference material, SRM 1196, as the ignition source. However, when originally established, the standard included physical characteristics of a conventional, commercially available, non-filtered, king-sized cigarette without specifying any brands for the ignition source. A Pall Mall Red cigarette, manufactured by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, met these specifications, and so was used in testing until 2008 when the manufacturer notified CPSC that the company intended to convert its cigarettes to be Fire Standard Compliant (FSC).

The main criteria for identifying an ignition source is the ignition strength value, which is measured on a scale from 0 to 100 and is analogous to the percentage of full-length burns on a laboratory substrate. Lower values indicate a cigarette is more likely to self-extinguish when not actively being smoked, while higher values indicate a cigarette is more likely to remain lit while unattended. FSC cigarettes are required to have an ignition strength lower than 25.

In 2010, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed the SRM 1196 Standard Cigarette for Ignition Resistance Testing and it was available for purchase from the NIST starting September 2010. All the SRM 1196 cigarettes were produced in a single batch and estimated to last for a ten-year supply. However, in 2018, NIST depleted its stock of the SRM 1196 due to inability to find a manufacturer who could produce the SRM 1196. NIST has since researched and created an SRM 1196 equivalent in the new SRM 1196a, which has been available for purchase from NIST since February 2020.

After conducting two studies evaluating the characteristics of the SRM 1196a, the CPSC has determined it to be a statistical equivalent to the SRM 1196 and is proposing to amend the 16 CFR 1632 standard to reference the SRM 1196a as the ignition source. Proposing a new standardized ignition source provides a consistent test to help adequately protect consumers from the unreasonable risk of fire.

Comments on the proposed rule can be submitted until January 13, 2021.

The proposed rule can be viewed at: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-10-30/pdf/2020-22747.pdf

For questions, please contact Laxmi Ravikumar (laxmi.ravikumar@intertek.com, +1-630-209-9265) or Pratik Ichhaporia (pratik.ichhaporia@intertek.com, +1-847-212-8273).

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