Environmentally Conscious Flame Retardants: What’s New?

old burnt burlap on a white surface

(DGIwire) – Flame retardants (FRs) are a critical safety component, particularly in the textile industry, because they can help protect bedding, decorative fabrics, automotive fabrics and outdoor fabrics, as well as military and workwear. However, the quest has been on for a newer and more environmentally conscious set of chemicals.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the evidence of toxicity and bioaccumulation in some chemicals, like tris (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate, and carcinogens have led to a demand for new FR products that can still act as flame safety tools without compromising health. The recent passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century has built on this resolve, giving the EPA new power to evaluate many of the chemicals that exist in everyday products. According to the Environmental Working Group, chemicals that should see early action for safety review include FR chemicals like TBB and TBPH.

“With health and safety as governing factors, the EPA will likely review the use of certain halogenated FRs and possibly ban if not regulate them,” says Nick Clark, CEO of Alexium International, a specialty chemicals manufacturer. “Companies that have the goal of creating environmentally friendly solutions should see the Lautenberg Act as a welcome development because they can already produce compliant chemistries.”

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.

“We attribute a lot of our success to date to having a simple and unified goal—providing products that keep consumers and the military safe with as minimal an impact on environmental health as possible,” Clark adds.

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