The UK study, “Flame retardants in UK furniture increase smoke toxicity more than they reduce fire growth rate”, published on Chemosphere in December 2017, states that “flame retardant chemicals in furniture increase the toxicity of smoke when burning more than they reduce fire growth”. However several fire science experts have challenging the conclusions in the study. After the response by Dr. Alexander Morgan in The Fire Safety & Technology Bulletin, Efectis a major player in fire science with 65 years of experience, has also published a report with its views.
The report, reviewed by Eric Guillaume active in the field of fire sciences since 1998, conclude that the study “is well-written and conclusive, however it is not surprising that it was not submitted to a “fire” journal (Fire Technology, Journal of Fire Science, Fire and Materials, Fire Safety Journal mainly) but to a generic journal, because it would probably have been rejected by specialists in the field.”
According to the Efectis report “The problem with this article is mainly its attempt to make a generality of very specific cases of upholstered furniture. Fire scenarios are poorly fixed, rendering the interpretation of toxicity very limited. Indeed, given the scenario chosen for full-scale test, the fire is quickly under-ventilated and the tenability conditioned by the temperature. In this case, the emission of fumes has little importance close to the fire.”
In conclusion, the Efectis report says that #the publication is not useful and confusing, supported by a poor statistical analysis and weak experimental data and trying to generalize conclusions performed on specific upholstered furniture. The conclusions should be performance-oriented, whatever the technical solutions are (flame retardants, fire barriers, intrinsically good performing materials, etc). The work and conclusions appearmore as an advertising for Cottonsafe Natural Mattresses Company than scientific research.
 “Flame retardants in UK furniture increase smoke toxicity more than they reduce fire growth rate”, S. McKenna, R. Birtles, K. Dickens, R. Walker, M. Spearpoint, A. Stec & R. Hull, Chemosphere 20397 in press 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.12.017