When did Flame Retardants start to be used?
Chemical flame retardants have been used since Roman times when they prevented siege towers from catching fire. However, the first patent on a flame retardant was the British Patent 551, patented by Obadiah Wilde in 1735 to flame retard canvas for use in theatres and public buildings. In the plastics industry, brominated flame retardants were first used in cellulose nitrate which is extremely inflammable.
In the early 1970’s, the increasing use of flammable materials such as plastics in electrical equipment or synthetic fibers in sofas and curtains led to the wider use of flame retardants. At this time, manufacturers of appliances and furniture began such as plastics for appliances and polyurethane foam and fibre-based fillings for furniture, moving away from traditional materials such as wood and metals. While these new materials provided many benefits, they had one problem - they were far more combustible than the materials they replaced. Flame Retardants are able to contribute greatly to reducing the risk of fires providing safety in the home and in public places.