With highly specialty focused environment everywhere- in office, home, hotels, hospitals, everywhere- the need of protective clothes have increased like never before. Textile is highly prone to fire but we can't, in any way, do away with them. They are needed to make garments, as home furnishings, and for making other textile products. What can be done, at the maximum, is to make them lesser prone to fire, that is to say, to make the clothes flame resistant. Flame retardants are used by the fabric manufacturers for achieving this aim.
flame retardants are materials that inhibit or resist the spread of fire usually through three methods- by using inorganic materials such as asbestos, glass etc; by chemically treating the textile with flame retardant chemicals; and by modifying the polymer. They can be categorized as Brominated flame retardants, Chlorinated flame retardants, Phosphorous-containing flame retardants, Nitrogen-containing flame retardants, and Inorganic flame retardants.
The flame retardant chemicals, applied to fabrics, inhibit or suppress the combustion process at different stages like during heating, decomposition, ignition or spreading of flame. They can act physically and/or chemically for resisting fire. This is done through various mechanisms such as by cooling endothermic processes triggered by the flame retardants, by forming a protective layer, by diluting the fuel in the solid and gaseous phases by reacting in the gas phase, or by reacting in the solid phase through breakdown of polymers. The flame retardants are applied to fabrics through conventional padding and many other methods.
Whatever the process followed for making flame resistant fabrics, it is true that if they were not there, the risks to our lives would have increased manyfolds. However, nowadays, everybody seems to be concerned about whether flame retardants are harmful toxins or not? Many flame retardants have been banned for use in many parts of the world. Textile industry is continuously engaged in research for finding more and more environmental and health friendly flame retardants.