He added that several members have been providing advice and helping to pull information together. ‘EPA is looking at risk and technology issues for foam fabrication,’ McIntyre said. ‘The fabrication Neshap applies to foam fabrication but not foam lamination; there are no standards for lamination. In updating the fabrication Neshap, EPA is also looking at lamination.’
As well as establishing standards for lamination, the EPA is concerned about the use of n-propyl bromide (1-bromopropane, or 1-BP), in adhesives and sealants for foam cushion manufacture. ‘They will probably restrict its use in the foam industry,’ McIntyre said. ‘Whether [it will be] an outright ban or some limitation is not clear. I am almost certain they are going to severely restrict the use of this substance.’
The draft rule is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and this will be followed by a 60-day public comment period. ‘We will be working with the membership in developing our comments, and I think the final rules will be in place by fall 2021,’ he said.
In addition, the EPA is considering a change that will alow it to reclassify major sources of hazardous air pollution as an area source. ‘EPA policy has been that once designated a major source, it will always be one, even if it has improved operations or removed emissions that caused the major source designation,’ McIntyre said.
EPA has now published a final rule that will permit companies to apply for reclassification. ‘This should reduce record keeping, and we are working on a memorandum,’ he said. ‘This is a policy I’ve been pushing for for a long time. [Not being able to reclassify] made no sense.’
Flame retardant legislation continues to be introduced at a state level, primarily in products such as upholstered furniture, mattresses, children’s toys and, in some cases, carpet cushion. When these bills started to be introduced, they tended to identify a handful of flame retardants and a limited number of products but, McIntyre said, recent bills have tended to cover more retardants and more products.
‘This year, 30 flame retardant related bills were introduced in 17 states,’ he said. ‘Coronavirus cut into the ability of state legislatures to hold in-person sessions, and slowed down the consideration of the bills. One passed in Maryland, but this did not affect the flexible foam industry. Most will have to be reintroduced next year.’
The Massachusetts bill vetoed by governor Charlie Baker in December 2019 was reintroduced this year, and is still in play, he said. It has passed the state senate, and is pending in the House. ‘We are watching it closely, as it will affect some of the fire barrier materials used for mattresses to pass the federal flammability standards,’ he said.
Finally, the proposal to adopt California TB-117-2013 as a federal standard has still not become federal law. This would remove the requirement for open flame tests on the components of upholstered furniture, including flexible foam. The industry has long argued these tests are inappropriate for foam enclosed within upholstery. In the past, they led to large amounts of flame retardants being added to foam so it would pass tests that did not reflect a real-world fire.
Although the House bill passed in December 2019, and the senate bill also passed out of committee last year, it has still not been brought up for consideration on the senate floor. ‘If it does, I think it would pass,’ McIntyre said.
A key feature of this legislation is that it would prevent states or the Consumer Products Safety Commission introducing flammability laws for upholstered furniture. ‘It is important legislation and it would put to an end decades of efforts by CPSC to come up with a national standard for upholstered furniture,’ he said.