New Flammability Standard for Mattresses in the USA

On 16 February 2006, the new mandatory federal flammability standard for mattresses was approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It will help to reduce the severity of mattress fires, which causes a $100 million annual impact on the economy. When fully effective, CPSC estimates the new mandatory standard for mattresses is likely to save as many as 270 lives, preventing 78 percent of the deaths, and 1 330, or 84 percent of the injuries currently occurring every year.

"Consumers who purchase a new mattress that meets this standard will add an important layer of fire safety protection to their home," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "Lives will be saved as a result of this standard, as it requires new mattresses to limit the spread and intensity of a mattress fire, which will give people more time to escape from their residence." The mandatory standard addresses mattress fires ignited by open flame sources, including matches, candles, lighters, and other related scenarios. The test protocol was developed in coordination with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "NIST's contribution to CPSC's development of this standard was invaluable," said Stratton.

Under the new mandatory federal rule, mattress sets must meet a performance standard. The CPSC does not specify how manufacturers are to design their mattresses to meet the standard. The new federal standard for mattresses goes into effect on July 1, 2007. In the performance standard, the peak heat release rate is limited to 200 kW during a 30 minute test. The total heat release is limited to 15 MJ within the first 10 minutes of the test.

Cigarette ignition is covered by a separate mandatory standard. That standard, 16 CFR Part 1632, has been in place for more than 30 years during which deaths and injuries from mattress fires caused by smoking materials have fallen dramatically. The following pictures show the fire behaviour of a conventional mattress versus a mattress meeting the new federal mattresses standard.