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Monday, 23 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Raw materials, Coatings additives

Some flame retardants increase fire toxicity

Monday, 2 April 2012

New study found that halogen-based flame retardants can increase the danger of invisible toxic gases that are the No. 1 cause of death in fires.

Flame retardants are added to products to suppress the visible flames in fires

Source: Andreas Helminger/Pixelio

Flame retardants are added to products to suppress the visible flames in fires

Source: Andreas Helminger/Pixelio

Some of the flame retardants added to carpets, furniture upholstery, plastics, and other products to suppress the visible flames in fires are actually increasing the danger of invisible toxic gases that are the No. 1 cause of death in fires. That was the finding of a new study. Anna A. Stec, University of Central Lancashire, U.K., led the research, which focused on the most widely-used category of flame retardants, which contain the chemical element bromine. Scientists term these "halogen-based" flame retardants because bromine is in a group of elements called halogens.

The scientists tested brominated flame retardants with antimony synergists, mineral-based flame retardants and so-called intumescent agents, which swell when heated, forming a barrier that flames cannot penetrate. Unlike the halogen-based retardants, mineral-based fire retardants have little effect on fire toxicity. Most intumescent fire retardants reduce the amount of potentially toxic gases released in a fire.

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