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Further Your Knowledge of Flammable Materials

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UNDERSTANDING DITCHING FLAME RETARDENTS IN CAMPING AND BACKPACK TENTS

The title chosen for this report melds the headings of two important story’s’ published by REI and MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR

The first point I will make is the wording “flame retardants” is incorrect.

The proper term is “fire resistant”.

This is very important to understand to learn about how textile fabrics and their chemicals are tested to be able to not ignite and or have a continued burn and flame.

Before we get into this lets throw away the flame retardants as they are known if and when a material including a chemical does not support any flame or melt and drip. As a reference point goes to NFPA National Fire Protection Agency to learn what is fire retardant and what is fire resistant.

The Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group is presented in the REI story and is a very important group of dedicated members of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).

OIA has challenged itself to learn and change the ways in which all textiles and their chemicals are made and used. The challenge is dealing with a supply chain mostly in Asia where there are no government regulated environmental or safety standards like those that have been present in the USA since the EPA was created in the early 1970’s.

This is compounded in the REI Duke story by making the entire report about understanding flame retardant rather than flame resistant...

Quoting “Our understanding is advancing, but there is more to learn”

“That said, Duke Research helped REI and the outdoor industry identify areas for improvement, as well as ways for campers to reduce their personal flame retardant exposure”. Assuming we are talking flame retardants go naked and stay away from any fire created flames.

Let’s get back to reality and fire resistant chemicals and textiles for outdoor apparel and gear. LOI and LOL is where to begin.

Limited Oxygen Index is a rating system for all textile fibers and their chemicals

The safest way to improve your personal safety from any flame is wool, it simply will not ignite or burn or melt or drip and does not ignite into a flame.

This puts us back into the 1800’s and the early years of exploring the lands that became the USA. Most notable the Lewis & Clark Expedition sleeping under the stars using wool blanket for warmth and comfort.

Other areas of actual camping using cotton canvas tents also found only wool blankets inside on the floor of ground not a fabric floor.

In the 1900’as more mountaineers wanted improved gear the challenge became how to move on from wool in a love hate relationship of nothing actually worked as well as wool. Poles and floors were added to cotton canvas tents by the very well know inventor Hirsch Weiss camping tents. No he was not a circus tent maker, his company created in Portland Oregon made their own tents and also created skiwear under the brand White Stag.

Ok, we are getting close to the magic word for fire resistant outdoor personal exposure. That word made it possible for REI to make their own gear, tents and sleeping bags and outdoor insulated clothing.

Before I share the word I am going to open the links in the REI/ Duke Story to see where they went wrong writing this entire “UNDERSTANDING” and see how the Mt Hardwear Company claims it is ditching fire retardants.

Be back in a few hope you open the link too”

Chemistries(https://outdoorindustry.org/resource/outdoor-industry-association-priority-issues-brief-flame-retardant-fr-chemistries/) backgrounder.

Ok this one is a webpage introduction but more like see and joins OIA invitation.

But it does use the word fire retardant instead of fire resistant for textiles.

The next heading in the REI story states “a quick explanation of what flame retardants are and why they are used”

I’m going to jump off again and get out a copy of the ASTM testing method that applies to this statement. ASTM D6413/D6413M-13b is a (vertical test)

“Standard Test Method for Flame Resistance of Textiles

This explains the fact that textiles are tested for “Flame Resistance” Not Flame Retardants.

There are hundreds more textile tests most part of what is called ASTM testing

Proper use of these tests

One other popular testing that helps consumers is ASTM testing for Fabric Thermal Insulation

Where are we in the letter?

Ready to say the magic word Nylon It came about in the 1940’s as ladies hose stockings.

Soon it was replacing cotton in skiwear and outerwear and finally going into camping and backpacking tents. 1950’s 60’and 70’s.

Nylon put REI’s co-founder Jim Whittaker on the summit of Mt Everest.And it was used to make the first backpacking tents as leading outdoor mountaineers that founded brands like Jan Sport, Gerry, Holubar and Sierra Designs and North Face who all engineered technical advances in the backpacking tents.

It is unfortunate that all of these outstanding individual leaders and brands were not able to sustain their business when offshoring of their inventions especially labor intense backpack and camping tents started to be made offshore. As those years began in the 1990’s the TWT “time will tell clock” started ticking away at the most important issues that did not make it to offshore textile chemicals fibers yarns and fabrics.From a simple layman’s point of view today the tents are made from polyester not nylon. Hence the confrontation about personal flame exposure.

How serious is this at this time? Learning that chemicals are washing of onto our bodies leaching out into the oceans and if ignited will cause the melting and dripping that came out of the flame to dig into our skins and cause second degree burns begs a question of lets first the wording right to win the fight. “Ditching” is throwing the baby out with the bath water a horrible show of I don’t know so why tell.

To REI’s credit they are exposing the issue with the same good intentions of its founders to make better gear and apparel for themselves and all outdoor recreation pursuits.

Both of these interviewed brands now hold billions of dollars of consumer’s money in the products and tents area very popular home away from home while camping and backpacking. Less we go back to wool blankets under the stars.

The issue is best solved in the fiber of the fabrics.Nylon fibers hold the chemicals that were reconstructed in the extrusion and making process to invent Nomex™ the most fire resistant fiber of all the synthetics then and still at this time.

However nomex is stiff and not soft like nylon by itself in fabrics. True to its chemicals nylon will flame but not melt and or drip.

Leaving open the discussion of why not DITCH the polyester now used that replaced nylon unknown to most of the outdoor users whose parents still have those nylon tents and sleeping bags as their fabric and a reasonable chemical free fire treated chemical issue for personal health.,

The old adage If It’s Not Broken Don’t Fix It applies here as to why the nylon was dropped DITCHED for Polyester.

To be sure of the awareness of proper testing ask for the brand to put a label on the tent stating the results of ASTM (vertical test) Standard Method for Flame “Resistance” of Textiles.Turn in your polyester tent as the ASTM test will fail polyester for ignition flame height and length and melting and dripping.

And write to REI and ask them to go back to nylon the fiber that built the brand and supported the TRUST of quality and personal protection as best it can be done without horrible dangerous chemicals now know to be serious health issues.

These same fabrics are also used to make sleeping bags in Asia because the Asian factories want to have one fabric inventory.

Welcome to how the American business chose to be irresponsible with their fabrics while putting up a big front saying how responsible they are with the safety of their customers. BAH HUMBUG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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