A New Era for Flame-Retardant Apparel

Fire proximity suit

(DGIwire) – From the mid-1970s until recently, America’s main law governing chemical safety was the Toxic Substances Control Act—criticized by many as fatally flawed, as it allowed tens of thousands of potentially dangerous chemicals to remain on the market. This changed on June 22, 2016, when the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) was signed into law. As recently reported in Apparel magazine, the new law is likely to have a number of implications for the flame-retardant (FR) apparel industry.

In recent years, certain FR manufacturers have made it a priority to focus on environmentally friendly chemical solutions. Given the fairly complicated and extensive changes that may result from LCSA, the effects on these manufacturers will likely be gradual as the government and industry fully grasp the scope of these changes. With that said, it is likely to inspire key changes that will affect FR developers, manufacturers and their customers.

“The LCSA is a boon for forward-looking FR manufacturers and their customers with an eye focused on consumer safety,” says Nick Clark, author of the Apparel article and CEO of Alexium, a specialty chemicals manufacturer. “The ultimate implications of the law will play out over time but are bound to result in a safer world.”

According to Clark’s Apparel article, FR apparel manufacturers that utilize FR chemistry should seek to do business with providers of specialty FR chemistries, be aware that some chemical products—and especially FRs—may ultimately be removed from the market, research the economic consequences and follow trade magazines and conferences.

Alexium develops next-generation FRs that balance fire protection with ecological safety. Its processes and products are intentionally designed to meet exacting requirements for safety and environmental sustainability, often exceeding industry standards. While its products feature an environmentally friendly mix of chemicals, they remain lightweight and durable. For example, one of its products, Alexiflam NF, is a reactive, halogen-free, phosphorus-based product that can stand up to 50+ washes and is specifically designed for cotton and cotton blends often found in products such as workwear, apparel and upholstery.

Alexium also maintains a relationship with the U.S. Armed Forces; the chemical solution it has specifically designed for its military division is called Alexiflam FR, a durable and ecofriendly chemical formulation that works well with nylon/cotton blends, which are typical for products like military uniforms. In addition to uniforms, Alexium’s chemistries have been developed to protect military tents, backpacks, tactical gear and accessories.

“The growing awareness of environmental safety within the FR arena, spurred by reforms such as LCSA, benefits us as a supplier to the industry—and we look forward to the new era it is ushering in,” Clark adds.

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