Fire retardant wood, polymer and textile materials

Leena Sarvaranta

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    Worldwide, the consumption of flame and fire retardants in combustible materials and products is closely linked to regulations covering fire precautions. The total US market for flame retardant chemicals was estimated at $ 513 million in 1993. In 1991 the US consumption was estimated at 300,000 t. Plastics used some 77% of all flame retardants. Roughly 9% of sales were to the wood and paper industries, 8% to the coatings industry, and 6% to the textile industry. In Western Europe, the total annual consumption of aluminium hydroxide, antimony trioxide and boron flame retardants has been estimated at 60,000 - 70,000 t. In Japan annual consumption of aluminium hydroxide has been estimated to 20,000 - 30,000 t. Annual consumption of fire retardant chemicals for textile fibres in the USA, Japan and the EU amounts to 40,000 - 50,000 t. No single mechanism explains the action of all fire retardants. Evidence suggests that most fire retardants reduce combustible volatiles production and limit combustion to the solid phase. The best retardants also inhibit solid-phase oxidation to effectively remove the fuel from the fire. There is an ongoing debate over the possible risks of halogenated, especially brominated, fire retardants. Certain chloroparaffins and antimony trioxide have also been mentioned but the main impact lies on the PBBs and PBDEs. Another factor potentially affecting the market for halogenated fire retardants is the waste disposal of treated materials and products. The ease or difficulties of recycling also have a potential effect on the use of fire retardants. In future further work will be necessary on the fundamental mechanisms of individual fire retardants. These mechanisms are a function of the particular chemicals involved and the environmental conditions of the fire exposure. In particular, improved leach resistance will be necessary to expand wood products into public buildings. Life cycle analyses are needed to ensure the market potential of new fire retardant products. The goal of using environmentally friendly fire retardant systems is a worthy objective. Perceivement of this by the consumer should in turn lead to a greater market share for companies that demonstrate their initiative and expertise in the environmental field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages39
    ISBN (Print)951-38-4885-X
    Publication statusPublished - 1996
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes


    • fires
    • fire resistance
    • fire prevention
    • safety engineering
    • construction materials
    • fire resistant coatings
    • wood
    • polymers
    • textiles
    • plastics


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