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Possible Changes to Flammability Standard for Clothing Textiles under Consideration

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is seeking input by 24 June on possible changes to the standard for the flammability of clothing textiles to expand the list of fabrics that are exempt from testing under the standard. The CPSC is particularly interested in receiving information about the possibility of adding spandex to the list of exempt fabrics and is also seeking information about the equipment and procedures specified in the standard and possible ways to update those provisions to reduce the burdens associated with the testing requirements.

The Flammable Fabrics Act authorises the CPSC to issue flammability standards, under certain circumstances, when “needed to protect the public against unreasonable risk of the occurrence of fire leading to death or personal injury, or significant property damage.” Under this authority, the CPSC adopted a standard for the flammability of clothing textiles that provides testing requirements, establishes three classes of flammability, sets out the criteria for classifying textiles, and prohibits the use of textiles that exhibit rapid and intense burning. The regulations exempt certain fabrics from the testing requirements because experience gained from years of testing in accordance with the standard demonstrates that those fabrics consistently yield acceptable results. Currently, the following fabrics are exempt from the testing requirements:

  • plain surface fabrics regardless of fibre content, weighing 2.6 ounces per square yard or more, and
  • all fabrics, both plain surface and raised-fibre surface textiles, regardless of weight, made entirely from any of the following fibres or entirely from combination of the following fibres: acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester and wool.

Parties may submit information and data on such matters as spandex fibres that would help the CPSC determine whether spandex consistently yields acceptable results when tested in accordance with the standard (especially data from testing a range of fabric constructions, fabric weights and fibre blends), the general test burden and costs associated with testing fabric containing spandex fibres, and additional possible changes to the standard such as the availability and specifications of stop thread, the testing burden or cost of performing the dry cleaning procedure with perchloroethylene solvent, issues related to the reporting codes used to describe the burning behaviour of raised surface fabrics, and any additional burdens related to the standard.

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