§ Mr. Freeson
The combustion of polyether foam is a complex process but its principal products are carbon monoxide, steam and carbon dioxide with some oxides of nitrogen. When flame retardants are added, additional combustion products, dependant on the nature of the retardant, will be produced, though in relatively small amounts.590W
Carbon monoxide, produced in the combustion of virtually all materials, is known to be the cause of the great majority of fire deaths attributed to smoke and toxic gases. The toxicity of other gases produced in fires is less well established and depends on the individual circumstances of the fire.
§ Mr. Freeson
No such material which is also fully acceptable in other relevant respects is currently available, but the manufacturers of plastics foams have made some progress in developing materials which are resistant to ignition by small sources, and which burn slowly. A close watch is kept by the Department on developments.
When new foams are assessed, it is important that their usage is taken fully into account. Potential mattresses must be examined in conjunction with bedding and with their desired useful life in mind 591W The burning of the bedclothes may generate toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, even though the mattress may not contribute much to the fire in its initial stages and fire retardant treatments may adversely affect mattress life.