CPSC cites NIST research in Mattress Safety Advance

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an improved flammability standard for mattresses and mattress foundation sets last month that should significantly reduce deaths and injuries in bedroom fires started by such common open-flame sources as lighters, candles and matches. Mattresses and sets that comply with the new standard requirements will burn more slowly when put in contact with an open flame than many current products. The standard was developed with assistance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Slower mattress burning rates should reduce the possibility of flashover, the point at which the entire contents of a room are ignited simultaneously, making conditions in the room untenable and safe exit impossible. By allowing time to escape the fire, the CPSC estimates, the new mattress standard should annually save an estimated 270 lives and prevent 1,330 injuries.

In announcing the new regulations, CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton said, "NIST's contribution to CPSC's development of this standard was invaluable." The test methods, created by NIST, with the support of the mattress industry's Sleep Products Safety Council, quantify the product's increased fire resistance. Mattress and set prototypes, using the NIST test, pass the new CPSC performance requirements if, in a 30-minute period in which their product is subjected to open flames, the peak heat release rate does not exceed 200 kilowatts (kW) and the total heat release does not exceed 15 mega joules (MJ) in the first 10 minutes of the test. This heat release rate is substantially below the heat release rate of approximately 1,000 kW, which leads to flashover in a typical room.

The CPSC does not specify how manufacturers are to design their mattresses to meet the standard. The new federal standard for mattresses and sets goes into effect on July 1, 2007.


Details on the CPSC flammability standard for mattresses, including B-roll of NIST mattress tests, can be found at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06091.html.

*Final Rule for the Flammability (Open Flame) of Mattress Sets Tab G (4010). Available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia06/brief/briefing.html.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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