“The programme is all about building and gaining trust,” said executive director Mike Crowell, “whether it’s with foam manufacturers, mattress and upholstered furniture manufacturers or consumers.”
The organisation has a new fatigue testing element as part of its verification programme, and hopes to have the first results by the Polyurethane Foam Association’s (PFA) November meeting.
Richard Skorpenske, advocacy and sustainability counsel at Covestro, explained that it is designed to give a measure of durability.
This is a current area of focus of CertiPUR-US’s technical advisory group, which he chairs. “We are looking at the standard methods that are used in ASTM, for instance,” he said. “It’s likely to be a long, drawn-out process.”
Another ongoing project involves heavy metals testing, and aligning CertiPUR-US testing with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requirements in the US.
As Jane Kniss, TS/AD chemist at Air Products explained, the goal is to adopt appropriate health-based safe and allowable heavy metal levels for foam families, complying with CPSC.
CPSC requires total digestion testing to show lead is below 100ppm, whereas CertiPUR-US’s current protocol involves an eight-hour sweat solution extraction methodology. One of the risks with this method is that the measurements can underestimate the total amount in the foam; it has been estimated that it is only 50% accurate.
“We’re currently trying to evaluate whether new limits are required,”
Jane Kniss, TS/AD chemist at Air Products
The proposal is to move towards CPSC’s total digestion protocol, with all the organic portion of the polymer being consumed, and then tested for heavy metals. “We’re currently trying to evaluate whether new limits are required,” Kniss said. For the 10 metals, including lead, cadmium and antimony, the technical advisory group is trying to be realistic, and using existing protocols from various bodies to establish maximum levels.
Three industry toxicologists from Covestro, Air Products and Huntsman - have volunteered to ensure the risk assessment is appropriate for ingestion and dermal contact, and also infant scenarios, across the 10-year lifespan of a mattress.
Preliminary specifications have been determined via this risk assessment for the level at which negative effects start to appear. All of them are higher than the current CertiPUR-US guideline limits, ranging from twice the old limit for antimony to 147 times for copper.
The next step, Kniss said, is to find an independent heavy metals toxicology expert to give the risk analysis a final review before it goes forward for board approval.
A certification programme for moulded foams for furniture and bedding is close, too. “There are several questions we needed to get answered, such as sampling protocols regarding mould size and physical testing requirements,” Skorpenske said. “We want the same requirements from a results perspective for moulded and slabstock foams, and we think we are now close.”
CertiPUR-US also gave its inaugural Outstanding Leadership Award to PFA’s Bob Luedeka.