Cat. No.: H128-1/08-562
HC Pub.: 4537
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The intent of this document is to:
To obtain information on the legislative requirements for consumer textile products not covered in this document, refer to the 'Hazardous Products Act and Regulations' listed in Appendix C - Canadian Information Resources, on page 27 of this document.
This document may be updated from time to time. For the most recent version, consult Reports and Publications in the Consumer Product Safety (CPS) section of Health Canada's Web site at www.healthcanada.gc.ca/cps.
This document is an unofficial summary of the requirements for general textile products, children's sleepwear and bedding. It is not intended to substitute for, supercede or limit the requirements under the applicable legislation. In case of any discrepancy between this summary and the legislation, the legislation will prevail. For further information, specific questions or clarification, contact a Health Canada Product Safety Office (refer to Appendix A - List of Health Canada Product Safety Offices, on page 21 of this document).
Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety (CPS) program works closely with industry, partners and stakeholders to protect consumers and children from product-related hazards and to promote the safe use of products. CPS gets its regulatory authority from the Hazardous Products Act (HPA), which covers the sale, importation and advertising of a variety of products which may, or may likely, pose a danger to the user. It is the responsibility of industry to comply with the legislation. Enforcement actions taken by Product Safety Officers on noncompliant products range from negotiation with industry for the voluntary removal of these products from the market to seizure and/or prosecution under the HPA.
Certain consumer products are prohibited from sale, importation or advertising in Canada. Other products are restricted and must meet specific regulatory requirements prior to sale, importation or advertising. General textile products, certain children's sleepwear (sleepwear for infants up to 7 kg, as well as hospital sleepwear, polo pyjamas and sleepers in sizes up to and including 14X) and bedding are prohibited if they do not meet minimum flammability requirements. Other children's sleepwear (nightgowns, nightshirts, dressing gowns, bathrobes, housecoats, robes, pyjamas and baby-doll pyjamas in sizes up to and including 14X) have specific regulatory requirements that must be met prior to sale.
General textile products are defined, in accordance with the HPA, as all consumer products made in whole or in part of textile fibres, other than children's sleepwear, bedding, dolls, plush toys, soft toys, cribs and cradles, playpens for children, carpets, rugs, tents, mattresses, as well as expansion gates and expandable closures for children, which must comply with different legislative requirements. General textile products include such items as fabric, drapery, outerwear and daywear.
Flammability requirements for general textile products have been in effect under item 4 of Part I of Schedule I to the HPA since 1971. These products, when tested in accordance with the Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB 4.2 NO. 27.5-94 entitled Textile Test Methods - Flame Resistance - 45° Angle Test - One Second Flame Impingement, as amended from time to time, are prohibited if they have a flame spread time of one of the following:
More stringent flammability requirements were established in 1971 for all children's sleepwear in sizes up to and including 6X under item 5 of Part I of Schedule I to the HPA. In 1987, the flammability requirements for children's sleepwear were modified by developing even more stringent requirements for loose-fitting children's sleepwear such as nightgowns, robes, tailored pyjamas and baby-doll pyjamas in sizes up to and including 14X under item 40 of Part II of Schedule I to the HPA and the Hazardous Products (Children's Sleepwear) Regulations. Children's polo pyjamas and sleepers, children's sleepwear designed for hospital use, and sleepwear designed for infants up to 7 kg remained subject to the flammability requirements under item 5 of Part I of Schedule I to the HPA. To provide school-age children with the same level of protection as preschoolers, item 5 was extended to include products in sizes up to and including 14X.
Children's sleepwear governed under item 5 of Part I of Schedule I to the HPA, when tested in accordance with the Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB 4.2 NO. 27.5-94 entitled Textile Test Methods - Flame Resistance - 45° Angle Test - One Second Flame Impingement, as amended from time to time, are prohibited if they have a flame spread time of:
Children's sleepwear governed under item 40 of Part II of Schedule I to the HPA, when tested in accordance with the Flame Resistance Test set out in Schedule I of the Hazardous Products (Children's Sleepwear) Regulations, must have:
For additional information on the HPA flammability requirements for children's sleepwear, refer to the 'Children's Sleepwear: Flammability Requirement Guidelines' listed in Appendix C - Canadian Information Resources, on page 27 of this document.
Bedding refers to articles that make up a bed and that are made in whole or in part of textile fibres, including sheets, pillowcases, pillows, blankets, comforters, mattress pads, bed skirts, sleeping bags and similar products used on a bed, but excluding mattresses.
Flammability requirements for bedding came into effect in 1971 under item 13 of Part I of Schedule I to the HPA. Bedding, when tested in accordance with the Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB 4.2 NO. 27.5-94 entitled Textile Test Methods - Flame Resistance - 45° Angle Test - One Second Flame Impingement, as amended from time to time, is prohibited if it has a flame spread time of 7 seconds or less, and either:
Consumer textile products advertised, sold or imported into Canada must also meet federal labelling requirements set out in the Textile Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations administered and enforced by the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada.
Some provincial jurisdictions may have other labelling requirements, e.g., for stuffed articles. For more information on legislative requirements for consumer textile products, refer to Appendix C - Canadian Information Resources, on page 27 of this document.
In accordance with the Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB 4.2 NO. 27.5-94 entitled Textile Test Methods - Flame Resistance - 45° Angle Test - One Second Flame Impingement, as amended from time to time, a dried piece of fabric measuring 50 mm x 165 mm (2" x 6") is mounted in a specimen holder at a 45 degree angle to the horizontal, and a standardized flame is applied for one second to the surface near the lower end of the fabric. The flame spread time is the time taken for any flaming to proceed a distance of 127 mm (5") up the fabric, and is automatically recorded by the burning of a stop cord.
Before a product sample is tested for flammability, preliminary trials are conducted on fabric specimens cut from the sample in different directions to determine the direction in which to cut the test specimens and the surface to test whereby the fabric burns most rapidly. Once this has been established, the flammability of the product sample is determined by measuring the flame spread time for five test specimens from the same sample and averaging the results.
If the flame spread time for any one specimen is equal to or less than:
five additional specimens from the sample are tested. The flame spread time of the product sample is then the average flame spread time for the ten specimens or for the number of specimens that burned.
Borderline or extremely variable flammability test results are followed up by testing at least one, and preferably two or more, additional product samples to ascertain reasonable consistency of the test results.
For detailed information on this test, refer to the Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB 4.2 NO. 27.5-94 entitled Textile Test Methods - Flame Resistance - 45° Angle Test - One Second Flame Impingement, as amended from time to time, and the 'Test Method for the Flammability of Textiles - Method F-01' listed in Appendix C - Canadian Information Resources, on page 27 of this document.
In accordance with the Flame Resistance Test set out in Schedule I to the Hazardous Products (Children's Sleepwear) Regulations, product samples are first washed and dried or dry cleaned according to specified procedures. Five specimens per product, each measuring 89 mm x 254 mm (3.5" x 10") are held vertically and tested individually by applying a standardized flame for three seconds to the base and the average char length is determined.
For detailed information on this test, refer to the 'Test Method for the Flammability of Children's Sleepwear - Method F-17' listed in Appendix C - Canadian Information Resources, on page 27 of this document.
Testing is the only way to confirm compliance to the applicable requirements.
Fibre content, fabric construction, fabric weight and fabric finishes can all affect the flammability or rate of burn of textiles. All textiles will burn to varying degrees if exposed long enough to a flame or an intense heat source. When discussing any one factor below, it is assumed that all other pertinent factors remain constant.
With regards to flammability, fabrics may be classified generally according to fibre content:
Fabrics made of two or more fibres (blends) display flammability characteristics that are different from those of the individual fibres, and testing is the only way to ascertain the flammability of the blend. For example, although polyester is less flammable than cotton, some cotton/polyester blends have been shown to burn rapidly and generate more heat than 100% cotton fabrics. This is due to a "scaffolding" effect, where the charred cotton in the blend acts as a support or scaffold for the polyester fibres. The melting polyester in the blend does not drip away as it may do in 100% polyester fabrics, and continues to burn.
Blended fleece fabrics such as 80% cotton/20% polyester may burn quickly like 100% cotton fleece because the brushed surface can be 100% cotton, while the base may be a blend of 50% cotton/50% polyester or 60% cotton/40% polyester. A flame can quickly pass over the raised surface of the fleece, igniting the readily flammable cotton. Once the base of the fabric is ignited, the moderately flammable polyester slows down the rate of burn to one somewhat slower than that of a pure cotton fabric of equal weight and construction.
For textiles, the critical factor in determining flammability ratings for varying construction techniques is the availability of oxygen. Combustion is accelerated if air can permeate a fabric easily. The more loosely woven a fabric, the more combustible it is, and the faster the flame will travel over the surface of the fabric. For example, a lightweight tightly woven polyester fabric may be difficult to ignite, whereas a lightweight loosely woven (mesh) polyester fabric may fail flammabilty testing.
Fabrics with a raised fibre surface require special consideration. Fleece-style fabrics, flannelettes and terry towelling are some examples of construction which allow individual fibres or yarns to be exposed readily to accidental contact with ignition sources. This, combined with the fact that air readily penetrates and circulates around these loose fibres and yarns, increases the hazard level of raised fibre surface fabrics.
The flammability hazard with raised fibre surface fabrics involves the phenomenon called "surface flash" whereby a flame can travel rapidly over the fabric surface, singeing the fibre ends. This flash, in itself, may not be dangerous unless the intensity of the flame is sufficient to ignite the base fabric. In testing, this is known as timed surface flash with base burn.
A lightweight fabric tends to be more flammable than a heavier weight fabric of the same fibre content and fabric construction. For example, rayon chiffon usually fails to meet the HPA flammability requirements while rayon georgette generally passes. The georgette yarns are more tightly twisted and the weave is more tightly compacted than chiffon. Consequently, the georgette fabric is more difficult to ignite, and when it does ignite, the rate of burn is slower because of the restricted availability of oxygen.
A chemical or mechanical finish alters the surface of a fabric and in doing so affects the flammability of that fabric. Finishes not designed specifically to retard flammability must be considered as unknown variables that influence the total flammability of the textile product. Only through testing can the effect of the system be ascertained. For example, enzyme washes designed to reduce the pile on 100% cotton fleece tend to reduce the surface flash by shortening and compacting the loose cotton fibres.
The proper choice of fabrics and design criteria will allow children's sleepwear to meet the applicable HPA flammability requirements without treatment with flame retardants. Flame retardants are substances used to impart improved flame resistance to a material. If flame retardants are used, they must meet strict toxicological testing set out in the Hazardous Products (Children's Sleepwear) Regulations.
General textile products and children's sleepwear produced in Canada and shipped to the United States are subject to textile flammability standards issued and enforced by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For more information, refer to Appendix D - United States Information Resources, on page 30 of this document.
Flammability requirements for general textile products and children's sleepwear are similar in Canada and the United States, but there are some differences such as the requirements and procedures for laundering. Canadian companies exporting to the United States are advised to ensure compliance with the United States standards and have their goods tested prior to export.
For a partial list of laboratories that provide textile testing services, refer to Appendix B - Canadian Textile Testing Laboratories, on page 25 of this document.
At the time of this publication, there were no flammability requirements for bedding in effect in the United States. However, the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BHFTI) was drafting Technical Bulletin 604, Test Procedure and Apparatus for the Flame Resistance of Filled Bedclothing and in 2005, the United States CPSC initiated rulemaking for the flammability of bedclothes by issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for 16 CFR Part 1634, Standard to Address Open Flame Ignition of Bedclothes. To contact the California BHFTI or the United States CPSC for the current status of these standards, refer to Appendix D - United States Information Resources, on page 30 of this document.
The roles and responsibilities of government and industry in ensuring the safety of general textile products, children's sleepwear and bedding include, but are not limited to, the following:
For products that do not comply with the HPA flammability requirements:
Consumer safety is a shared responsibility.
Notice: This listing of laboratories implies no certification or endorsement by Health Canada, nor is it necessarily a complete listing of all laboratories in Canada that provide textile testing services.
Notice: For further information on textile products, contact a Health Canada Product Safety Office (refer to Appendix A - List of Health Canada Product Safety Offices, on page 21 of this document) or visit the following: