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How Flame Retardants Are Used in Transportation


A wide variety of plastics, textiles and composite materials are used extensively in the mechanical, structural and decorative parts of today’s transport, including airplanes, trains and cars. These materials are: (i) highly adaptable to new designs; (ii) lighter weight, making them more energy efficient; (iii) less labor intensive; and (iv) more cost effective. Flame retardants are often used to ensure these materials can meet flammability standards.

To make materials fire-resistant, flame retardants act to help stop or slow the spread of fire. They can be used alone, or in combination with other flame retardants that act as synergists to enhance fire retardant properties. If a fire does start, flame retardant solutions work in different ways to help stop or minimize its effects. Learn more about how flame retardants work.

Different classes of flame retardants work to reduce the threat of fire hazards in different ways, and must be matched to the specific material being used and the performance specifications of the final product. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when essential fire-protection benefits must be balanced with ensuring optimal performance.

Today, travel is safer than ever before, regardless of the mode of transportation. Thousands of people take to the highways, railways and air daily, and they do so with the expectation of reaching their destinations safely. Flame retardants play an important role in helping to meet that expectation of safety.

The August 2005 fiery crash of a passenger jet in Toronto, Canada, in which all 309 people aboard survived, is a prime example of how flame retardants can contribute to passenger safety. Safety officials considered the fire-retardant material now required in airplane cabins to be a factor in slowing the spread of the fire and allowing passengers to escape safely.

As the transportation industry evolves, and more emphasis is put on the production of lighter weight, more fuel-efficient modes of transportation, technologically advanced materials will increasingly be used, and fire protection will remain a public safety priority. NAFRA members will continue to innovate and develop new and sustainable flame retardant solutions to keep pace with advances in transportation and public safety standards.

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