I was a civil servant, working on the UK's Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (FFRs) from 2004 until December 2015. From 2009 I led on the overall review of the FFRs. From early 2013 to August 2014, as the dedicated expert, I developed a new match test for the FFRs, in conjunction with my Department's appointed technical advisor, Steve Owen of Intertek. This new test would have made our furniture fire-safe (our research proved that the current test is not safe), greener and cheaper. But the chemical industry would have lost millions. The test remains blocked.
The main purpose of this site is to expose a scandal that affects the health of every person in the country. It is causing possibly thousands of cancers and other illnesses, with children particularly vulnerable. It is something the government had the means to put right more than four years ago. But weak-willed and corrupt civil servants caved into industry pressure and are delaying vital safety changes.
In short, the hugely powerful chemical industry is manipulating UK law so that their products get into our sofas and mattresses in huge amounts - around 30-50 kgs per household (not counting those in carpets, curtains and electrical goods). These flame retardant chemicals are supposed to protect us from fire but there is plenty of proof that they do so poorly or not at all.
The USA changed its sofa flammability laws in 2014. Public pressure won out against the mighty chemical industry and now US citizens can buy furniture free of flame retardant chemicals. But in the UK, we are still stuck with levels of flame retardants in our sofas and mattresses even higher than the USA faced. The breast milk of humans in the UK contains the highest levels of flame retardants in the world.
In September 2016, under pressure from the press, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) put out a consultation document that proposed changes to the UK's Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. On the surface, this was the government attempting to finally reduce flame retardants in our furniture. But the consultation was in fact a sham and played directly into the hands of the chemical industry and its allies. BEIS has still not even responded to this consultation and has been stonewalling attempts by various stakeholders to even discuss the matter.
Update, August 2019: under pressure from intense criticism from the Environmental Audit Committee, BEIS finally responded to its 2016 consultation last month. However, as Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the EAC, put it: all they've done in effect is to say they're going out to consultation yet again. See my blog post of 18th July 2019 for further information.
In short, the Department for Business proved in 2014 that the current 'match test' in the FFRs fails in up to 90% of cases. Since then, no evidence at all has been produced against this finding. Which means the vast majority of sofas in the UK are ignitable when they aren't supposed to be. It also means that the number of lives it's claimed are saved by the FFRs are completely unfounded, i.e. because the estimates were based on the assumption the Regulations worked.
But even if those assumptions were correct, it requires around 6 million kgs of flame retardant chemicals to possibly save just one life from fire. Research published in Chemosphere in December 2017, proves that a treated UK sofa is more dangerous than an untreated EU sofa, because any escape time afforded by flame retardants (and that is far less than the FR industry claims) is greatly outweighed by the huge amounts of toxic smoke, including hydrogen cyanide, that is produced very soon after a UK sofa ignites.
In October 2018, UK research was published that confirms flame retardants are absorbed through the skin, e.g. you will absorb them into your body just by sitting on your sofa. With UK homes containing the highest levels of FR dust in the world, children and pets are particularly vulnerable since they tend to come into closer contact with it. At the time of writing around 12 US States have banned flame retardants from many products, and California has just banned all varieties of them from juvenile products like mattresses. This leaves the UK as the only country in the world that insists its children sleep on and get carried around in products that are directly leaching toxic chemicals into their bodies.
Site Contents - Pages
THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE
At the time of writing, the massive role played by burning sofas/mattresses inside Grenfell Tower is being all but ignored, as indeed is the issue of toxic smoke itself. While cladding certainly contributed toxic smoke (including hydrogen cyanide) to the Tower fire, burning upholstered furniture also provided very large amounts of it; and the fact the current Regulations are ineffective, means it was released faster than it should have been.
Includes true stories about the history of how the chemical industry and inept civil servants are blocking moves to prevent fire deaths and unnecessary cancers and other diseases.
BBC'S 'RIP-OFF BRITAIN', 10 MAY, 2017
Link to the programme (available for 29 days following initial transmission), and my analysis of the content.
Details, papers, etc of the whistleblowing case I took out against my managers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
THE CODE OF PRACTICE SCAM
It's clear that civil servants are not going to put right our fire laws. The chemical industry and its friends know this and have planned a 'code of practice' to replace them - the bottom line being that the same high levels of toxic flame retardants will remain in our furniture.
THE LIES OF THE BRITISH FURNITURE CONFEDERATION
I analyse a press released by the BFC, 'explaining' the Sunday Times article of 9 May 2017, and show how they are lying to you in order to protect their members' backs.
THE FULL FACTS
More detail and background, explaining the UK's furniture flammability regulations, along with the evidence and facts needed for anyone to see that the public is being put at risk of death and illnesses such as cancer by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
THE FULL FACTS EXTRA
More explanation and papers in support of, or clarifying, the situation regarding the still-blocked new match test. For example, an extraordinary 12-page document written by a senior civil servant to convince me that she was right after she'd already removed me from my post. Extraordinary, by the way, not in terms of technical savvy but in demonstrating that her hubris had no limits. The document also shows my comments which prove that just about everything she wrote is wrong. She refused to discuss it any further after that because, she said, I was no longer in the job. As I wasn't when she sent me the document.
THE GOVERNMENT'S 2016 CONSULTATION SHAM
My response to BEIS's September 2016 consultation - forced into play by the Sunday Times - showing how civil servants are continuing to keep the public at huge risk purely to protect their careers.
CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO BUYING FURNITURE
Here I attempt to set out easy to understand guidelines for anyone wishing to buy the safest possible furniture. At present, this is a minefield that even trained journalists have found very difficult to negotiate - a fact that in itself says much about what is wrong with UK consumer fire safety laws.
PROOF THAT FLAME RETARDANTS IN UK FURNITURE INCREASE FIRE DEATHS
Link to a paper by Professors Richard Hull and Anna Stec (and others) in Chemosphere revealing that toxic smoke from flame retardants burning in UK furniture increases the likelihood of death.