Background

A U.S. trade group is again launching an effort to add spandex to the list of fabrics exempt from testing under the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standard for the flammability of clothing textiles.

This flammability standard (which applies to clothing and textiles intended to be used for clothing) provides testing requirements, establishes three classes of flammability, sets out the criteria for classifying textiles, and prohibits the use of textiles that exhibit rapid and intense burning.

The following fabrics are exempted from the testing requirements because they have been shown to consistently yield acceptable results when tested: (1) plain surface fabrics, regardless of fiber content, weighing 2.6 ounces per square yard or more, and (2) all fabrics, both plain surface and raised-fiber surface textiles, regardless of weight, made entirely from any of the following fibers or entirely from a combination thereof: acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester, and wool.

The CPSC rejected an effort to add spandex to this exemption list in 2020, stating that the available data did not provide a sufficient body of results to justify an exemption. The CPSC said it would need additional information, including with respect to fabric weight, percent of spandex in the products, fabric construction, and raised/plain surface fabrics – to determine whether various products that contain spandex would yield burning behaviors acceptable under the standard. The Commission also noted that it would “continue to look at exempting spandex, working with stakeholders to develop sufficient data to do a complete flammability analysis of spandex.”

The American Apparel and Footwear Association said this week that it will raise the spandex exemption issue again in response to a recent CPSC proposal to amend the textile flammability standard, even though such an exemption is not within the scope of that rulemaking. The AAFA is therefore requesting that industry members submit by Nov. 10 any new data on spandex flammability they may have developed since 2019. For more information, please contact attorney Beth Ring via email or at (212) 549-0133.

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