Flammability - how easily something burns! The CPSC has flammability regulations for all clothing for both children and adults. What does this mean for you, as a consumer, and me, as a business owner?
Flammability it a little more, okay, a lot more, complex than lead regulations. There are two main, separate regulations: general clothing and sleepwear. The starting point for these regulations was the Flammable Fabrics Act. This act was amended in March of 2008.
What should you know? After extensive testing, many of the fabrics used to make general clothing are considered exempt, as they have been deemed to behave consistently within the acceptable standards for flammability. For example, plain-surfaced (non-fuzzy) fabrics, that are over 2.6 ounces per square yard, are considered exempt. To give you a better feel for this weight, the lightest cotton gauze is about 2.4 oz/sq.yd. The general woven and knit fabrics purchased at stores are well over this weight. It does not matter whether the fabric is knit or woven. Napped fabrics (fuzzy) generally need flammability testing or certification. Common examples of napped fabrics are flannel, velour, terry cloth and corduroy. I'll give you a minute to process...
Good? This is where things get a little stickier; there are some fibers that are always considered exempt from flammability, even when they are made into napped (fuzzy) fabrics. Deep breaths! Acrylic, modacrylic,
nylon, olefin, polyester, and wool are always exempt from flammability. Extensive testing has shown that they behave consistently within the acceptable standards for flammability. Fabrics that are blends of these fibers are also considered exempt.
Break time! Let's let all the information sink in for a minute. Perhaps a snack might be in order?
Sleepwear is a whole other story. Children's sleepwear regulations apply to size 9 months through 14. For sizes above and below, general flammability regulations apply. Either the sleepwear must be treated with a flame retardant or it must be close fitting. This is actually quite a change, as tight fitting used to not be an option. The addition of the close fitting requirement allows for cotton sleepwear, as there are many, many people who are vehemently opposed to the chemicals used in flame retardants. Close fitting sleepwear has special tagging requirements, too.
What does this mean for my business? It means that, should I wish to use a fuzzy fabric, for clothing, I must ensure that it meets CSPC flammability regulations. This is where have a small batch manufacturer number comes in. It allows me to use flammability testing certifications from the fabric manufacturer, rather than having to send the fabric out for third-party testing. If a manufacturer has not tested their fabric, I have two choices: 1) Don't use the fabric or 2) Have it tested myself. I generally choose number one.
Where you'll most likely run into questions regarding flammability is at craft fairs/shows. There are many small businesses who are not aware of federal flammability regulations. In general, you don't need to worry about plain-surfaced fabrics. The fuzzy fabrics and pajamas are the big question marks. Bibs are considered clothing. I know, but they just are. If you ever have a question about a product, you can simply ask whether the item meets CPSC safety regulations.
Do note that flammability regulations do not apply to non-clothing items, such as sheets, blankets and toys.