US CPSC Refuses Flammability Testing Exemption for Spandex

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has concluded an
exemption from flammability testing for spandex-containing products was not

The decision was published on September 30, 2020, in “Briefing
Package – Status Update: 16 CFR Part 1610 Rule Update and Final Action for
Exempting Spandex from Testing.” The CPSC had issued a Request for Information
(RFI) in April 2019 relating to the possible exemption of spandex from testing
under the Standard for the Flammability of Clothing Textiles in 16 CFR 1610. A
list of exempted fibers is contained in 16 CFR part 1610.1(d). The exemption
had been requested by industry members.

The Briefing Package details the CPSC’s conclusion that the
spandex data provided during the RFI did not provide a sufficient body of
results to justify this exemption. Some research had even suggested that
spandex may increase the burning behavior of fabrics. The CPSC therefore
decided against the exemption at the current time.

Based on comments received via the RFI, the CPSC is recommending testing
to identify potential alternatives to update equipment and procedures in the
standard that are no longer available or need clarifying, and the pursuing of rulemaking
to propose updates. The CPSC also recommends additional testing and analysis to
determine appropriate updates for the stop thread, refurbishing, and test code
requirements. Depending on the results of these studies, a notice of proposed
rulemaking (NPR) may be issued in the future to update these requirements.

  • Stop
    – the stop thread requirements have generated confusion about the
    appropriate thread to use and the thread CPSC has used, which complies with the
    standard, is no longer identifiable on the market. Accordingly, clarification
    and the updating the requirements would provide greater consistency in testing
    and results
  • Refurbishing
    (laundering and dry-cleaning) – the required refurbishing equipment, including
    dry-cleaning solvent and washing machines, have limited availability, or are
    being phased out; so suitable replacements should be identified that are
    readily available
  • Burn
    Code Clarification
    – the test result codes for raised surface fabrics are unclear,
    and need to be clarified for industry members to use properly and effectively

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16 CFR 1610 applies to all clothing textiles and fabrics used or
intended for use as clothing textiles. It aims to reduce the risk of injury or
death by prohibiting the use of dangerously flammable clothing textiles. It includes
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. Certain fabrics are exempted from testing
under the standard based upon consistently acceptable results that do not
exhibit rapid and intense burning behaviours when tested in accordance with the

SGS Softlines Services

SGS has a worldwide network of over 40
state-of-the-art laboratories specializing in testing of apparel, footwear, and
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backgrounds, allowing them to carry out a comprehensive range of physical,
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finished products. SGS helps companies ensure quality, performance, and
compliance with international, industrial, and regulatory standards worldwide.
Learn more about SGS’s Softlines Services.

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latest news and developments in the consumer goods industry. Read the full U.S.
CPSC Releases Briefing Package on Status Update of 16 CFR Part 1610


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For further information contact:

Louann Spirito
Consumer and Retail — Softlines
US & Canada Softlines Business Head
Tel: +1 973 461 7919



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