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  • Press Release

UL Partners with Emory University to Conduct Research on Furniture Flammability and Human Exposure to Flame Retardants

November 17, 2015

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Nov. 17, 2015 — UL, a global safety science organization, announced a partnership with Emory University to increase scientific understanding of the impact of chemical exposure from furniture and a cross-section of electronic products. Outcomes from the study will be used to evaluate potential ways of reducing exposure to chemicals of concern by management of sources, changing manufacturing processes or using safer alternatives, while also maintaining flammability protection. The research is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

UL Inc invests in health and safety research to provide consumers, manufacturers, policy makers, and other stakeholders with a greater scientific understanding for reducing identified hazards through safe material selection, engineering and personal use practices. This study is one of many UL initiatives dedicated to safety research, and the mission goal of achieving safe living and work environments for all.

Stakeholders from government agencies, the commercial and residential furniture industry, academia, flammability and environmental consultancies, and product users are advising on this initiative. P. Barry Ryan, PhD, professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health is the Principal Investigator for developing human exposure methodologies and overseeing exposure measurements, while UL will provide access to its environmental chamber exposure laboratory in Marietta, Ga. Flammability tests will be conducted in UL’s Northbrook, Ill., laboratories.

“While other scientists have undertaken flammability research, this will be one of the first to consider both flammability effectiveness and chemical exposure,” said Dr. Marilyn Black, vice president and senior technical advisor, UL. “This study will provide scientifically sound data to help develop processes for ensuring safe products in the market without compromising one element of safety for another.”

With the goal of fire safe/chemical safe products, this research will provide data to help understand how human exposure to certain flame retardants and other chemical typically occurs, at what levels and how the aging of products affects the process. Moreover, the data will indicate if alternative technologies provide adequate fire prevention with less chemical exposure.