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Where There's Smoke …

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, January 24, 2005

Now that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has officially issued its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulesmaking (ANPR) that includes sheets, pillowcases, blankets, mattress pads, pillows, comforters and “similar items” involving flammability regulations, it will be interesting to follow the response of industry members.

To date, the attitude in the industry has been one of virtual disinterest with many executives apparently believing that the subject will go away.

Now that the ANPR has been issued, with comments accepted until March 14, it will be interesting to see how many executives participate with opinions regarding the pros and cons of the issue.

There are many issues to be decided upon, ranging from the adoption of the proposed California standard TB604, to health issues, the cost both to the industry and consumers, potential toxicity of the flammability treatments and a host of other challenges.

Most in home textiles land have greeted the subject with a nonchalant shrug, a comment like, “Haven't even thought about it,” or a sigh indicating that when it happens, “I'll worry about it then.”

Flammability regs will have a profound impact on this business in many ways — in the process of producing all the products that go on a bed, in the chemicals that will be used that people will sleep on, and in the costs.

In the last couple of years, the Home Fashion Products Association has had a workshop on the flammability issue just after the group's annual meeting. Each time there has been a maximum of a dozen people interested enough to hang around, and maybe learn enough to participate in some of the preliminary hearings and meetings.

This year's meeting on Feb. 9 again will have a workshop. The need to learn more about this key issue is critical if the industry is to participate in the decision-making process.

If there's no industry participation then no one can complain if standards are adopted that make compliance costly or difficult to accomplish.

It's time for the industry to move away from its ostrich position.

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