New Flammability Standard for Mattresses Approved by CPSC

In what the agency is calling, “One of the most important safety standards ever developed,” the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a “new federal standard to reduce the severity of mattress fires.”

According to the CPSC, the “new mandatory flammability standard for mattresses is the first major regulation passed by the CPSC in the agency’s history. A major rule is one that has more than a $100 million annual impact on the economy.”

The new mandatory federal standard is expected to substantially reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused each year by mattress fires in the U.S. The agency estimates up to 270 lives and 1.330 injuries will be saved each year as a result of the regulation. These figures represent 78% of the deaths and 84% of the injuries now attributed to mattress fires every year.

CPSC Chairman, Hal Stratton stated: “Consumers who purchase a new mattress that meets this standard will add an important layer of fire safety protection to their home. Lives will be saved as a result of this standard, as it requires new mattresses to limit the spread and intensity of a mattress fire, which will give people more time to escape from their residence.”

Under the new rule, which takes effect on July 1, 2007, mattresses must meet a “performance standard” that “addresses mattress fires ignited by open flame sources, including matches, candles, lighters, and other related scenarios.”

The CPSC developed the “test protocol” in cooperation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

While the regulation sets specific guidelines as to the way in which new mattresses will be required to perform under fire conditions, manufacturers have not been instructed as to how they are to design their products to meet those standards.

A separate mandatory standard addresses “cigarette ignition.” The current standard has been in place for over 30 years (16 CFR 1632) and has been credited with “dramatically” reducing the number of deaths associated with mattress fires.

(Source: CPSC Press Release and Web site)

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