Getting heated up

Carole Sloan, July 30, 2001

Well folks, the California state legislature looks as though it were a Stealth bomber moving the issue of flammability in bedding products into legislation in a matter of months.

Very quietly — in fact with a surprising lack of fanfare or public discussion — the state of California appears to have preempted the Consumer Products Safety Commission in expanding the reach of anti-flammability regulations to home textiles products.

The bill, introduced in the California Assembly in February, moved through the legislative process, was approved by the California Senate earlier this month and now awaits Governor Gray Davis' signature.

As written, Bill 603 — which would become effective on Jan. 1, 2004, would require all bedding products for sale in California, to be fire-retardant if deemed to contribute to mattress fires.

That means all fabrics that could possibly be used for these bedding products would have to come under these regs.

The proposed legislation can be blamed on the myopic vision of the myriad segments of the home furnishings business that don't understand their inter-relationships. No indeed, each of their problems are unique to them!

Both the ATMI and the HFPA only found out about the pending legislation earlier this month.

And, bless them, the giant national retailers haven't had a clue.

Once law, if a product is identified by the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation to contribute to mattress fires, it must "be resistant to an open flame under a standard specified by the bureau."

The ramifications for everyone involved in making and selling textiles across the broad home furnishings landscape are enormous. The issue of FR chemicals, which has been a critical one in the discussions and testings concerning upholstered furniture flammability regulations, is as intense or more so when involving bedding products that consumers would use directly exposing their skin to the flame-retardant chemicals.

What the surprise factors of this legislation prove is that there is a critical need for communication among the home segments business.

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