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HermanHessian

Government inaction causing sofa deaths

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I want to bring to your notice a scandalous situation regarding furniture flammability. The UK has the toughest furniture flammability laws in the world, the price of which is that UK sofas/mattresses etc contain a huge amount of flame retardant chemicals.

 

Evidence has been mounting on the harm that these chemicals do to human health and the environment. Two years ago in the US they changed their laws so that their furniture will no longer need to contain flame retardants. This followed a long campaign by consumers, green scientists, fire fighters (who noticed they were getting more cancers than normal) and the Chicago Tribune (who won the Pulitzer Prize for their work). It took so long because the ultra-powerful chemical industry used its influence to block changes, buy officials, and so on.

 

In August 2014, the UK government in the form of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published a proposed new flammability test that would reduce flame retardants by up to 50% (and probably to nothing with new technologies that would be available). The test methodology was confirmed as water-tight by the country's leading test experts, also by British Standards. Trading Standards and the fire services were very supportive. However, the chemical industry orchestrated resistance, via tame MPs for example, and put pressure on risk averse civil servants in BIS.

 

The result was that the changes did not appear in April 2015 as planned. Instead, BIS officials said more work had to be done. No more work has ever been done on the new test. BIS is now ignoring queries from anti-chemical consumer groups and basically doing everything it can to prevent the changes going through, in order to protect their own backs.

 

What's especially bad is that the government's own published research proved that the current test doesn't actually work for the most part. Which means people are dying in preventable house fires and we are all suffering the harmful effects of flame retardants that mostly aren't actually doing very much anyway.

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