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Foam industry embraces certification program

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Foam producers in the United States are reacting favorably to a voluntary testing, analysis and certification program called CertiPUR-US® that certifies their foam meets certain standards for content, emissions and durability.

Administered by the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam (AFPF), CertiPUR-US testing is performed in independent laboratories on polyurethane foams used in upholstered furniture and mattresses. The new initiative was developed in response to an influx of substandard imported foams, giving foam producers an opportunity to qualify their product, and provide an extra level of assurance to end product manufacturers. It also assures the consumer that the foam inside their mattress or furniture is made with safe, durable materials in an environmentally responsible manner.

“We’ve seen over the last four years, a trend where more and more upholstered furniture is manufactured in China, particularly mainline upholstery produced in mass assembly operations where they make fabric onsite and pour their own foam,” says Bob Luedeka, AFPF Executive Director.

The problem with these operations, he says, is that there may be ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the batch, or hazardous materials such as Methylene Chloride, or other contaminants that can cause noxious odors or are an environmental concern. In addition, batch production can contribute to inconsistencies in the durability, firmness and other performance properties. The CertiPUR-US-approved foams are low emission products, with low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), an air pollution and indoor air quality concern. Approved foams are made without ozone depleters, PBDEs, mercury, lead, heavy metals, formaldehyde and prohibited phthalates.

The CertiPUR-US program also meets many of the European performance labels and environmental and safety requirements. All major foam producers in the U.S. are now participating in the CertiPUR-US program.

Big companies like Simmons® have already embraced the certification for their mattress products, and Luedeka expects upholstered furniture manufacturers and major retailers to follow suit.

Substandard foam is not an issue in the marine industry at this time, he says. Luedeka advised that the foam manufacturing trade group, the Polyurethane Foam Association, is preparing a policy statement on the use of polyurethane foam for acoustics. The policy will not recommend the use of uncovered polyurethane foam for acoustic purposes in areas of public occupancy because it cannot be manufactured to provide adequate fire performance for that application.

For more information on the CertiPUR-US testing program, visit

Barb Ernster is a freelance writer based in Fridley, Minn.

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