State and Federal Levels
Regulations on chemicals and products containing regulated chemicals are having a growing impact on textile and related products. Working with the newly formed NCTO Chemicals Group and through other federal and state organizations addressing this complex subject, NCTO is providing input to the key regulatory actions underway with regulatory and legislative bodies.
Until the regulation of chemicals and products containing regulated chemicals settles down, it will continue to be complex and confusing. Thirteen states either have passed legislation regulating chemicals in products or are considering regulations. Some state regulations are in conflict with other state regulations, and the need for federal pre-empted in this area is needed. The industry will continue to try to comply with all mandatory regulations and, when possible, participate in legislative and regulatory efforts to bring balance and reason to actions taken by the states.
Standard for the Flammability of Clothing Textiles, 16 CFR 1610
International Association of Users of Artificial and Synthetic Filament Yarns and of Natural Silk petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to amend the flammability standard for general wearing apparel by changing the conditioning requirement for fabrics prior to testing. The change would enable more silk fabrics to pass the mandatory test but would weaken the regulation by allowing fabrics that do not currently comply to enter commerce. The change would reduce the safety aspect of the standard, and thus, would impact the overall fire safety of apparel items. Exemptions from testing that are in the current standard would likely be eliminated, thus the past half century of test data would become meaningless. Considerable added testing costs would also be incurred by U.S. textile manufacturers and others affected by the change.
NCTO lead a coalition of U.S. Fiber and textile associations in opposition to the requested change. Comments identifying increased costs if the Petition is granted plus the fact that the change would enable some fabrics to be sold that would not pass the current federal requirement. If granted, the changes suggested by the Petition would affect the effectiveness of the current standard which has provided safe fabrics for more than 50 years. CPSC will consider all comments regarding the standard and determine if it will begin a rulemaking to formally consider the changes contained in the petition.
The state of California established a mandatory furniture flammability regulation for smoldering ignition which has additional labeling requirements that address added flame retardant (FR) chemicals. The Upholstery Fabrics Committee members can easily comply with the flammability standard but the FR chemical identification rule is unworkable and is causing considerable confusion in the marketplace. While California was able to establish a flammability standard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) continues unsuccessfully to move forward in promulgating a mandatory furniture flammability rule which would pre-empt regulations from other jurisdictions like California.
NCTO’s upholstery fabric manufacturers are working to comply with the FR labeling rule in California but it is complex and difficult to get valid information from some segments of the supply chain. More definitive guidance is needed from the California regulators and this information is being sought.
NCTO is working with other industry segments and regulators to evaluate approaches to developing a mandatory federal furniture flammability standard. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been the primary government researcher in developing a draft mandatory standard for CPSC; however, NIST has not been able to correlate small scale testing with full scale testing, Thus, the government’s efforts continue to devise a technically feasible draft standard to propose. In order for a standard to be considered, it must be achievable, technically and economically feasible and cost effective. CPSC is currently having difficulty meeting these criteria; however, research continues in order to develop a sound basis for a mandatory federal upholstered furniture flammability standard.
Fluorotechnology Performance Boosting for Textiles
FluoroTechnology is the use of fluorine chemistry to create any fluorinated product. When fluorine and carbon atoms combine, they create a powerful chemical bond. The utilization of this bond gives FluoroTechnology its distinct properties of strength, durability, heat-resistance and stability. These properties are critical to the reliable and safe function for a myriad of products that industry and consumers rely on every day.