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Polyurethane systems under pressure in California

By: Simon Robinson
URETHANES TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL

March 24, 2014

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control put polyurethane products squarely in the firing line with the announcement it would be naming children’s foam padded sleeping products containing TDCPP a flame retardant, and polyurethane spray foam containing unreacted isocyanates as priority products.

The organization said, in an announcement on March 13, that it wasn’t banning the products, but rather “starting a process, requiring manufacturers who want to sell them in California to conduct an alternatives analysis to determine if feasible safer ingredients are available. The final list of priority products won’t be official until a rule-making process is complete, which could take up to a year. After that, manufacturers will begin the alternative analysis process.”

The state is acting under the California Safer Consumer Products regulations that came into effect on Oct. 1. California considers TDCPP to be a “probable carcinogen,” according to a statement.

Industry sources close to the U.S. flexible foam business suggest the flame retardant may have been taken off the market in early 2014 in the U.S. One possibility is because the volumes of foam required to make children’s mattresses is relatively small, some manufacturers may have made them out of small lots of foam that they have to hand.

The volume of flexible foam used in the baby mattress market is small. Robert Luedeka, executive director U.S. Polyurethane Foam Association said.

“In terms of volume, it’s not on our radar,” he added. “Specifications for this type of foam use do not include flame retardants.”