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The use of flame retardants plays an important role in fire safety. Flame Retardants are a wide variety of chemicals which inhibit, suppress or delay the combustion of materials. They work by thermal shielding, providing a non-combustive barrier between the flame and combustible materials. Others are designed to chemically alter under combustion to release gases which interfere with the combustion process.

Flame Retardant are designed to slow the spread of fire to allow time for the public to escape to safety and buy time for the fire department to supress the fire.  Fire retardant coatings form an important part of a building’s fire safety system.

Flame Retardant Chemicals should have the following characteristics:

  1. High effectiveness: The flame retardant should effectively prevent or suppress the spread of fire.
  2. Non-toxicity: It should be safe for human skin contact and not release toxic fumes when exposed to heat.
  3. Durability: The flame retardant should maintain its effectiveness over time, even after repeated washing or exposure to sunlight.
  4. Environmentally friendly: It should not have negative impact on the environment.
  5. Cost-effective: The flame retardant should be affordable and economically viable for widespread use.
  6. Easy to apply: The application process for the flame retardant should be straightforward and efficient.

The flame retardants ecosystem comprises processing of bromine, chlorine, phosphorous, aluminum, antimony, and others (zinc, nitrogen, and melamine), the basic raw materials used for flame retardant production. The manufacturers of flame retardants procure the processed raw materials in different physical forms.

The most commonly used flame retardants in fabrics are:

  1. Halogenated flame retardants: These are chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and chlorinated flame retardants.
  2. Phosphorus-based flame retardants: These are chemicals such as ammonium polyphosphate, melamine polyphosphate, and aluminum hydroxide.
  3. Inorganic flame retardants: These are minerals such as boron compounds and antimony oxide.
  4. Intumescent flame retardants: These are liquid-applied coatings that expand and create a protective barrier when exposed to heat.

It is important to note that some halogenated flame retardants, such as PBDEs, have been banned in certain applications due to their potential for environmental and health impacts. The choice of flame retardant will depend on factors such as cost, effectiveness, and regulatory requirements.

Typically, mineral based chemicals, are used for textile flame retardant. These include salts, phosphors, sulfurs and other mineral based coatings. These flame retardants contain no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), PCB’s or PSDE’s and are not considered hazardous. They are approved for us in the US by the EPA and in Europe by REACH. The SDS sheets list no toxicological or ecological impacts. The Health, Flammability, Reactivity ratings are all 0, and only slight hazards listed are related to prolonged skin exposure or eye contact which can cause irritation. Only VOC free and non-toxic flame retardants should be used. OS Protect flame retardants are from this family of flame retardants, just better. Why, because we use liquid additives, not dissolved solids. This provides superior performance.

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