You have to think about several things before getting a new fabric, whether for wearing or for your furniture. For a fabric to be good, varying things must be considered such as the design, style, comfort, durability, and, most importantly, safety. A flame-resistant fabric may sound amazing, but flame resistant fabric toxic? there are always advantages and disadvantages to every item, no matter how good it sounds.
Back in the day, if you searched about flame-resistant fabrics being safe and good, the answer would’ve been a simple ‘yes,’ but today, the answer can be a little complicated.
In this guide, we will talk about whether flame-resistant fabrics are toxic, the risks that come with them, and whether they are safe for you to use.
What Is A Flame Resistant Fabric?
A flame-resistant fabric quite literally means what its name suggests: it is a fabric that is resistant to catching flames and getting burnt. Certain fabrics are more resistant to flames, while others are less. Fabrics used for covering windows, furniture, or walls are tested for how strong their resistance is against flames.
Some fabrics have natural properties that allow them to be naturally fire-resistant. For example, wool has the most resistance to fire among natural fibers as its quite hard to burn. Some other fire-resistant natural fibers are nylon and polyester because it’s harder to burn them compared to other natural fibers such as linen and cotton.
As these are naturally flame-resistant fabrics, it is rare to add flame-retardant chemicals to them. However, other fabrics that aren’t quite resistant to fire naturally will be chemically treated to be fire-resistant. They’re either dipped in chemicals or coated with a fire-resistant back coating. The chemical the fabric is dipped in gets absorbed into the fabric and acts as a shield that makes it harder for the flame to pass through the fabric.
Are Flame-Resistant Fabrics Toxic?
Back in the day, flame-resistant fabrics were considered okay to use because no one was aware of the safety and health risks that came with using flame-resistant fabrics. But today, after there has been plenty of research on these fabrics, it is proven that there are many health-related risks and concerns when it comes to using flame-resistant fabrics.
Certain health risks including neurobehavioral disorders, hormone disruption, diabetes, development disorders, thyroid problems, reproductive health issues, and even cancer are attributed to this kind of fabric. Which makes it wise to think twice about investing in it.
The health concerns arise from using the fabric not because of the fabric but the flame retardants that are used to make the fabrics fire resistant. These flame retardants are a type of chemical added to these fabrics to make them resistant to flames. These chemicals are often unnecessary and toxic. Apart from the above-mentioned health risks that are caused by being in contact with these flame-resistant fabrics, one major problem of certain flame retardants is that they become concentrated inside the body of the person being in contact with them. This causes long-term chronic health problems as the level of these toxic chemicals starts to build up more and more in the body.
We aren’t just exposed to flame retardants through flame-resistant fabrics, flame retardants exist in a variety of items, and we can get exposed to them in several ways. We can come in contact with flame retardants through the air we breathe in, through the dust that can get into our body, when we touch our mouths with our hands, and through the water, we drink, as they can contaminate water as well.
Lots of flame retardants have been discarded from the market and their production has been halted. However, as they easily break down, they exist in the environment for many years.
Is It Possible To Find Flame Resistant Fabrics That Are Safe For Use?
The quick answer is yes, it is indeed possible. The need for an increase in fire-related safety and health balances out the need to keep people safe from fire-related injury and the health risks that come from being in contact with toxic chemicals. Healthier options are now being produced, such as many companies reducing the use of flame-retardant chemicals in their fabrics.
However, it is possible to find a flame-resistant fabric that is safe for use, this depends on the vendor you’re acquiring the fabric from. Certain vendors produce flame-resistant fabrics that aren’t as toxic or harmful to your health as other flame-retardant fabrics.