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Are Flame Retardants Hazardous? What You Should Know

The challenging part of owning a property for public usage is being responsible for the welfare of the general public. Whether you have a school, care home, theatre, or hotel, your business would cater to all the people that walk into your premises and ensure their safety and security at all times. 

Fire is one of the worst things that could happen in such public places. Thankfully, property owners can now invest in materials that could make such a space safe against fire. 

Understanding Flame Retardants: What Are They?

Fire-resistant roller blinds, curtains, fabrics, beddings, and tracks are made possible thanks to flame retardant materials. These are the chemicals used to slow ignition when flames occur and prevent fires from spreading or even happening entirely. People have been using these chemicals since the 1970s to keep their property safe from a potential fire. 

They can still be seen in furnishings today, such as in carpets, curtains, and blinds, or even in seat covers and fillings of vehicles. In fact, they are not exclusively developed for these purposes alone—they are also found in building and construction materials, as well as in electronics and electrical devices. 

Health Effects Associated With Flame Retardants

What people should know about flame retardants is how strong their properties are. These chemicals can dry up fast, but it would take them long before they break into pieces. Because of this, they are known to bioaccumulate or be present and buildup inside humans' and animals' bodies. The higher the level of the toxic chemicals inside the body, the more chronic and long-term their health problems can be. 

These chemicals are slowly showing up in the environment, wildlife, waterways, and even human breast milk. One of its kinds, called the PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), is said to be linked to causing health problems, particularly in memory and learning, puberty, thyroid problems, and fertility. 

Who Should Be Extra Careful

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of flame retardants. Their body is still developing, particularly their brains, nervous system, and other organs, so the chemicals have more prominent effects on these areas. 

Studies have shown that babies in the womb or kids in their early childhood get higher exposure to flame retardant chemicals, while 12 to 19 years old show the highest levels of accumulated flame retardants. 

How to Keep People Safe From Flame Retardants

If you are to use flame retardant products in your commercial space, there are ways in which to minimise its possible harmful effects on people. 

Exposure to these chemicals often comes from dust, diet, and hand-to-mouth contact. Here are some things you can do to avoid them: 

  • Make sure to have adequate ventilation in your place for proper air circulation.
  • Conduct regular wet mopping around the site to keep the dust level down. 
  • Vacuum the space with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter for effective removal of the contaminants. 
  • Ensure regular washing of hands. 

Conclusion

Flame retardant products exist to meet the need for quality materials that also protect the areas they are used in. However, there are some consequences when frequently exposed to these products, particularly in health. 

Owning a public property intended for general use makes you responsible for people’s safety—in all aspects. If you are interested in investing in flame-retardant materials, make sure to carefully choose where you plan to place these products. Follow our suggested tips above and place warnings wherever necessary to keep people informed all the time. 

Should you be interested in utilising fire-resistant materials, such as office blinds, curtains, hospital track, lightweight blackout material, and other such items, Direct Fabrics is the supplier to contact. We manufacture, supply, and install these fabric solutions across the UK and Europe, with over 50 years of contract furnishings experience. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our wholesale offers!