UK Government
United Kingdom

Flame retardants are chemical substances that are used in efforts to mitigate fire safety risks posed by a range of goods including furniture, electronics, and building insulation. There are growing concerns about their effectiveness in ensuring fire safety and the potential harms they pose to human health and the environment.

In response to these concerns, on 13 June 2022, a roundtable of experts was convened by the UKRI Six Clean Air Strategic Priorities Fund programme 7.

The meeting produced a Consensus Statement that summarises the issues around the use of flame retardants, and lays out a series of policy recommendations that should lead to more effective fire safety measures and reduce the human and environmental health risks posed by these potentially toxic chemicals.

Click here to read the full Statement

In brief summary, the Statement calls on the UK government to:

1. Minimise the need for chemical flame retardants by incentivising industry to develop benign-by-design furniture, building materials, and other goods. These should be made from materials that are inherently less flammable than conventional fabrics and foams.

2. Adopt a systemic approach to fire safety standards, evaluating the contribution of flame retardants to fire safety in the context of behaviours that initiate fires, factors that affect fire propagation, smoke generation, and toxicity during fires, and vulnerabilities that make people more likely to be harmed in a fire.

3. Improve the governance of standards, regulation, and testing of flame retardants and fire safety, ensuring that decision-making includes all stakeholders, and the integrity of deliberative processes is not compromised by conflicted interests.

4. Promote a culture of and funding for human environmental health research in the UK, to support the development, synthesis, and interpretation of the multi-disciplinary evidence base that is required for making evidence-informed decisions in complex regulatory environments.

5. Ensure that a very high level of certainty about the human and environmental safety of flame retardants is demonstrated before they are approved for use.

6. Develop a labelling system for tracking the use of chemicals in products, including flame retardants, that allows undesirable substances to be easily identified and diverted away from the circular economy.

We, the undersigned, endorse the Consensus Statement and call for more effective fire safety measures and reduced human and environmental health risks posed by potentially toxic flame retardants.

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The Support better fire safety measures with reduced human and environmental health risk petition to UK Government was written by Paul Whaley and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.