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What are Fire Retardants?

10/11/2013 4:19:56 PM | by Anonymous

Fire Retardants

Fire Retardants were developed back in the sixties. They were regularly used on products that needed to meet high safety standards like car seats and children’s apparel. Classes of fire retardant solutions known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers were questions in the early 2000s. Studies showed that they were being absorbed and stored in the fatty tissues but however did not break down and eventually not expelled from the body.

This led to the common accusation that the PBDE had caused defective prenatal births, which adversely affects the brain development in children and were possible carcinogenic. Proponents of these are currently worked on to ban this class of chemicals from further uses. PBDEs have also been accused on having a negative impact on the wildlife.

Most materials can be treated with fire retardant solutions. It allows them to be less combustible and harder to burn. Fire retardant additives as well as sprays are made available for any virtual surface which includes fabrics, paper, wood and electronic components. The products are used to make a variety of goods that are less likely to burn as compared to products without fire retardants.

Fire retardants materials are commonly used in the construction of hotels and skyscrapers. They can be added to paint, incorporated into mattresses and even applied to all types of furniture. Some building codes also require the use of fire retardant materials.

Fire retardants work by forming a protective layer that is non flammable around a relatively combustible material physically. This prevents the material from igniting. Also, they work by responding to extreme heat with chemical reaction which releases water vapour diluting the combustible gases. Diluting flammable gases can help prevent a fire from igniting or the slow burn rate of an existing flame. They also create a layer of carbon char around something that is burning. Carbon char is extremely flame resistant thus its presence can prevent flames from spreading from an existing burn or stop it completely.

Fire fighters utilize fire retardants when dealing with forest fires. They drop them from above via airplanes or spraying them on the ground. When a fire retardant drops from a plane, it serves to cool large burning areas and reduces the height of the existing flame. They are also used to create fire breaks containing a fire and its ability to spread.

Car racers and fire fighters also wear suits that are made from highly fire retardant fabrics. These suits are designed to have extremely high melting points and withstand intense heat and exposure to flames without igniting. Fire resistant suits are also commonly used in military applications and for military purposes.

Fire retardants reduce the flammability of most materials by blocking the fire physically or initiating a chemical reaction that helps to stop the fire. There are a several ways in which the combustion process is retarded by physical actions. Three common ways are by cooling, forming a protective layer and dilution. Some chemical reactions have the ability to cool the material down whereas some form a protective layer to prevent the underlying material from igniting the flames. Lastly would be by dilution. Some retardants release water and carbon dioxide during the burning process. This helps to dilute the radicals in the flame enough for it to be put out on its own. Commonly used fire retardant additives would include mixtures of hydromagnesite and huntite.

Chemical action can also be used to retard the combustion process. Reactions in the gas phase – Fire retardants can interrupt chemical reactions in the flame. However, there are also situations where the gas released might be more dangerous than the retardant involved. Reaction in the solid phase – Some retardants break down polymers so that they will melt and flow away from the flame. This allows some materials to pass certain flammability tests. It is not known whether fire safety is truly improved by the production of flammable plastic droplets.

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