After a thorough review of fire safety literature since 1976, a California-based research team is calling for a change to U.S. building codes that would exempt the addition of chemicals to foam plastic insulation in order to pass the Steiner tunnel test for flame resistance, according to ScienceDaily.
The Steiner tunnel test applies a flame directly to ceiling and interior wall finishes in order to see whether or not these finishes support or grow the flame. Though U.S. building codes have never stipulated that chemicals be added to foam plastic building insulation, ScienceDaily reports that “chemicals such as hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and Tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP) are routinely added in order to meet the requirements of the Steiner tunnel test.”
The researchers beleive that if the chemicals are exempted from the testing stage, their use will be discouraged. In addition to being expensive, ScienceDaily reports that these chemicals are known carcinogens that damage the environment:
“These additives are semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) which do not bind to the insulation material and are known to be released into the environment throughout the life cycle of insulation. The chemicals can persist and accumulate, and have been implicated in thyroid hormone disruption and nervous system development problems and are potentially carcinogenic.”