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June 11, 2015

Updated Standard May Reduce Harmful Chemicals in Furniture

The state of California has long been known as an advocate for environmental and personal safety. In 1975, the California Department of Consumer Affairs developed Technical Bulletin 117 (CA TB 117) to prevent ignition or slow the spread of a flame if furniture was the first item in a room to ignite. It is a mandatory standard for all furniture vendors and suppliers who plan to sell furniture in California, but has become one of the de facto standards for furniture manufacturers who want to sell anywhere in North America.

But the original standard and its early variants had a rather large problem. It required the testing of the furniture’s foam filling in an uncovered state. Without the use of potentially harmful flame retardant chemicals, this part of the test was extremely difficult to pass, even though the final product was likely to pass the final smolder test.  Due to this, the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) was directed in 2012 to revise TB117 for better fire safety without the need for flame retardant chemicals. The new standard for this purpose has been named CA TB 117-2013 and became mandatory on January 1, 2015.

Unlike previous versions of the test, samples are no longer exposed to a direct open flame as the criterion to pass these tests often required the aforementioned harmful chemical additives. Instead the various components of the furniture are subjected to a cigarette smoldering test in accordance with ASTM E1353-08a. These components include a Cover Fabric Test, a Barrier Materials Test, a Resilient Filling Materials Test, and a Decking Materials Test. CA TB 117-2013 provides a Pass/Fail Criterion for each of the product mockups. These changes to the method provide a more realistic situation for how furniture fires start in real world applications.

To provide confidence in performing this test, SDL Atlas is pleased to announce a range of products and recommendations for the testing of both CA TB117-2013 and its predecessor CA TB 117-2000. For more information about the updated bulletin or about textile testing products, visit or contact an SDL Atlas solutions expert.

SDL Atlas is committed to providing customers confidence in standard based testing. With offices and experts in the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and China, plus agents serving over 100 countries, SDL Atlas is ready to support its customers with instruments, equipment, consumables, and services anywhere in the world.

-           (US) T: +1 803 329 2110; E: [email protected] 

-           (Hong Kong) T: +852 3443 4888; E: [email protected] 

-           (China) T: +86 755 2671 1168; E: [email protected]  

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