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July 10, 1972

Flammable Fabrics

JAMA. 1972;221(2):189. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200150053016

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This year an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people will die from burns associated with flammable fabrics. Another 150,000 to 250,000 people will be injured. Children and the elderly will constitute the greatest number of victims.

After July 1973, children's sleepwear as large as size 6X must be flameproofed. According to the Commerce Department's new regulation, when the nightwear is exposed to a flame for three seconds, the fire must be self-extinguishing and leave no charring more than 18 cm (7 inches) from the point of contact. This regulation will help, but it will affect only one part of the problem: the new standard will be difficult to enforce, and, according to one manufacturer, will cause the price of such garments to increase by 30%.

A number of tragedies associated with two highly flammable items gave impetus to the passage of the Flammable Fabrics Act. The so-called "torch sweaters" and explosive