The Flammable Fabrics Act (available in
Text), was passed
in 1953 to regulate the manufacture of highly flammable clothing, such
as brushed rayon sweaters and children's cowboy chaps. The Flammable
Fabrics Act of 1953 originally placed enforcement authority with the
Federal Trade Commission. In 1967, Congress amended the Flammable Fabrics
Act to expand its coverage to include interior furnishings as well as
paper, plastic, foam and other materials used in wearing apparel and
interior furnishings. Responsibility for administering the FFA was transferred
to the CPSC when it was created in 1972. Under the Flammable Fabrics
Act, CPSC can issue mandatory flammability standards. Standards have
been established for the flammability of clothing textiles, vinyl plastic
film (used in clothing), carpets and rugs, children's sleepwear and
mattresses and mattress pads.
for Clothing Textiles,
16 C.F.R. Part 1610
This document is a simple summary of the clothing
textile requirements and does not replace the requirements published
in 16C.F.R. Parts 1610.
The summary does not include all of the details included in
those requirements. For those details, please referto the regulation or contact the Office of Compliance.
What is the
purpose of the general wearingapparel flammability standards?
The purpose of this regulation is to keep dangerouslyflammable textiles and garments made of these textilesout of commerce. The standard provides methods of
testing the flammability of clothing and textilesintended to be used for clothing by classifying fabricsinto 3 classes of flammability based on their speed ofburning. This minimum standard specifies that Class 3,textiles, the most dangerously flammable fabrics, areunsuitable for use in clothing because of their rapidand intense burning.
Where can I
find the requirements for clothingflammability?
The regulations are published in the Code of
in Title 16, Part 1610.
What is considered
Wearing apparel includes any costume or article
ofclothing that people
wear. The standard applies to alltextiles used in adult and children's wearing apparel.Most children's sleepwear must also meet morestringent flammability requirements. Most hats, gloves,footwear, and fabrics used between the linings andouter fabrics of garments are not required to meet thisstandard.
How do you test
fabrics or garments to ensurethat they comply with the flammability standard?
Because of the detail in the regulation, the
following isa general
overview of the testing requirements. Formore detailed information about the test equipment and
procedure, selecting specimens, and otherrequirements, please refer to the regulation or contactthe Office of Compliance.Five specimens measuring 2-inches by 6-inches areused for each test. The specimens are tested beforeand after dry cleaning and washing. The specimensare mounted in a specimen holder and placed in thetest cabinet as specified in the regulations.Textiles with raised fiber surfaces, such as chenille,fleece, and terry cloth are brushed prior to testing.After specimens are conditioned (oven dried anddesiccator cooled), each specimen is placed in the testcabinet at a 45 angle. The lower surface of thespecimen (not the edge) is exposed to a gas flame forone second. The specimen is allowed to burn upwarduntil the flame burns through the stop cord releasingthe weight and stopping the timer or extinguishes.To arrive at the time of flame spread, average the timesat which the timer stopped for all five specimens. Ifthat time is less than 3.5 seconds for plain surfacefabrics or less than 4 seconds for fabrics with a raisedfiber surface, or if the specimens do not burn at all,
orif only one specimen
has a burn time, test a secondsample of five specimens. When a second sample istested, the time of flame spread is the average of thetimes for all 10 specimens tested.The regulation establishes three classes offlammability based on the time of flame spread.
(1) Class 1 textiles have a flame spread time
of 3.5seconds or more
for plain surface fabrics, of morethan 7 seconds for raised surface fabrics, or 0-7seconds for raised surface fabrics with no ignitionor melting of the base fabric (generally when thefuzzy surface fibers of raised fiber fabrics exhibita "surface flash"). Class 1 textiles exhibit
and are acceptable for use inclothing.
(2) Class 2 applies only to fabrics with raised
2 textiles have a flame spread timefrom 4 to 7 seconds inclusive, and a base fabricthat ignites or melts. These fabrics exhibitintermediate flammability, and may be used inclothing. However, you should use caution whenyou make garments from Class 2 fabrics becausethe characteristics of those fabrics can causetheir flammability test results to vary.
(3) Class 3 textiles have a flame spread time
of lessthan 3.5 seconds
for smooth plain surface fabrics,and less than 4 seconds for raised surface fabricswith a base fabric that melts or burns from otherthan the igniting flame. Class 3 textiles exhibitrapid and intense burning and are dangerouslyflammable. You cannot use Class 3 textiles inclothing.
Fabrics likely to be classified as Class 2 or
Class 3textiles include
sheer rayon or silk, rayon chenille,reverse fleece or sherpa of cotton or cotton blend, andcertain cotton terry cloth.
consistently meet the requirementsof this standard?
Years of flammability testing has shown that
consistently pass as Class 1 textilesand are exempt from the reasonable and representativetesting requirements for firms issuing a flammabilityguaranty on these fabrics:
(1) plain surface fabrics, regardless of fiber
ounces per square yard or more; and
(2) all fabrics (both plain surface and raised-fibersurface) regardless of weight, made entirely fromany of the following fibers or entirely from acombination of these fibers: acrylic, modacrylic,nylon, olefin, polyester, and wool.
How can garment
manufacturers, importers,distributors, or retailers be sure that the fabricsor garments they sell are not dangerouslyflammable?
(1) You can purchase fabrics or garments made
fromthe exempt fabrics
(2) You can conduct reasonable and representativetesting yourself on fabric (before cutting andsewing it into garments) or on finished garments,
(3) You can purchase fabrics or garments from
asupplier who issues
a guarantee that they complywith these flammability requirements. To issue aguarantee, a supplier must conduct reasonable andrepresentative tests on each item that theguarantee covers, and must maintain records ofthe tests that support the guarantee (except forexempt fabrics listed above). Please refer to theregulation for more detailed information onguarantees and record keeping requirements. Werecommend that anyone relying on a guaranteetake steps to confirm that the supplier issuing theguarantee has in fact tested the guaranteedproduct, and also to confirm periodically thatappropriate testing continues.
Are there any
other requirements for wearingapparel?
Yes. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) haslabeling laws that apply to wearing apparel. Contactthe FTC at http://www.ftc.gov
for more information.
Where can I
find additional Information?
You can obtain the Standard for the Flammability
16 C.F.R. Part 1610, from theCommission's Web Site at: http://www.cpsc.gov.
on the requirements for clothingtextiles contact the Consumer Product SafetyCommission, Office of Compliance, Washington, D.C.20207, telephone: (301) 504-7913, e-mail:[email protected].