Notice to interested parties – Proposal to amend the Tents Regulations, including consequential amendments to the Toys Regulations
Tents manufactured, imported, advertised or sold in Canada are subject to the flammability and labelling requirements set out in the Tents Regulations issued under the authority of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA).
A tent is defined in the Tents Regulations as a portable shelter made of fabric or other pliable material, such as a camping tent, an ice-fishing tent or a dining shelter. All children's play tents are also subject to the requirements, whether or not they are intended to provide shelter. However, tents subject to the National Building Code of Canada, canopies, awnings, tarps, tent trailers and air-supported structures are excluded.
The Regulations were put in place in 1988 to help protect consumers from injuries and deaths caused by tent fires. Between 1972 and 1987, the Government of Canada received reports of 32 deaths and 40 injuries from tent fires, and more than half of these involved children. At that time, tents were typically made of paraffin-coated (waxed) cotton canvas, and some could burn completely in under a minute.
Tents can catch fire from contact with an open flame or other ignition source, such as a camp fire (and sparks or embers from the fire), a fuel-powered lantern, stove or heater, a candle or a cigarette. Occupants are confined in a relatively small space with limited exit points, so in the event of a fire, occupants may have difficulty getting out of the tent, which creates the potential for smoke inhalation, burn injuries or death.
The Tents Regulations incorporate by reference specific sections of the industry standard entitled CPAI-84 (1995), A Specification for Flame-Resistant Materials Used in Camping Tentage, published by the Industrial Fabrics Association International. A tent that meets the requirements of this standard is more difficult to ignite and more likely to self-extinguish once the ignition source is removed. However, it is not fireproof. As an added safety measure, the Regulations also require permanent labels with English and French fire safety warnings and precautions to be clearly and prominently displayed on the tent to help consumers prevent tent fires.
CPAI-84 was developed to address flammability issues of cotton canvas tents. However, most tents in today's market are made of synthetic, lighter-weight materials, such as polyester and nylon, with different burning properties than cotton canvas. Health Canada recognizes that the current requirements in the Tents Regulations are less suited to address the flammability risks of tents available to Canadian consumers today. The current Regulations may also inhibit industry from developing and using tent materials that would likely be deemed safe from a risk perspective but cannot meet the current regulatory requirements.
Over the last five years, the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) has worked on a new National Standard of Canada for tent flammability and labelling that would be useful to industry in helping them meet their obligations under the CCPSA.
The standard is entitled CAN/CGSB-182.1, Flammability and Labelling Requirements for Tents. It is being developed by a committee comprised of a balanced group of people representing government, academia, industry, test labs, consumers and other stakeholders with a vested interest or expertise in tents and related products. The standard is supported by extensive testing by Health Canada's Product Safety Laboratory on a variety of common tent materials supplied by industry representatives on the committee. The CGSB is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada as a standards development organization, and the development of CGSB standards follows a consensus process.
The draft version of CAN/CGSB-182.1 is available from the CGSB for a 60-day public review from November 30, 2018, to January 29, 2019. Health Canada encourages all interested parties to review the standard and provide feedback directly to the CGSB.
Highlights of CAN/CGSB-182.1 include the following. The standard:
- uses existing CPAI-84 test equipment and procedures, thereby minimizing industry costs;
- contains performance requirements that are better aligned with fire characteristics that are known to be risk factors; and
- it is expected that tent materials that comply with the current flammability requirements of the Tents Regulations should comply with the flammability requirements of CAN/CGSB-182.1.
Changes in CAN/CGSB-182.1, as compared to the current Tents Regulations, include the following. The standard:
- provides a more detailed definition of a tent to better help industry determine whether or not a product is included in the scope and therefore subject to the requirements;
- applies to tents for outdoor use. The product scope includes tent trailers (which are not covered under the current Tents Regulations) and children's tents (including play tents and child-sized shelters) intended for outdoor use or both indoor and outdoor use, but excludes children's play tents intended for indoor use only (which are covered under the current Tents Regulations);
- sets out one weathering procedure (fluorescent UV and condensation procedure, with water spray) instead of three (carbon arc and xenon lamp options have been removed) to improve consistency in results and align with the most commonly used laboratory equipment;
- sets out one flammability test method for all tent materials (vertical test) instead of separate test methods for flooring materials (horizontal test) and wall/top materials (vertical test) to streamline testing, reduce costs and support product innovation. For this first edition of the standard, flooring materials that fail the vertical test will still meet the flammability requirements of the standard if they are subsequently tested using the horizontal test and pass; the results of both tests must be reported;
- increases the number of specimens cut from each test material and subjected to the vertical test under each of three test conditions (untreated (as sold), after leaching and after weathering) from eight to ten (total of 30 specimens from each test material) to address variability in results. The number of specimens of each flooring material subjected to the horizontal test under each of the same three test conditions (if required) is unchanged.
- respecting performance requirements for each test material:
- introduces a performance requirement for average mass loss (calculated by determining the mass loss of each specimen and averaging the results of the ten specimens per test condition);
- maintains the performance requirement for average damaged length (calculated by determining the damaged length of each specimen and averaging the results of the ten specimens per test condition);
- lessens the performance requirement related to flaming debris (up to three of the ten specimens per test condition can exhibit flaming debris compared to no specimens under the Tents Regulations);
- indicates that a test material passes if it meets the performance requirements related to flaming debris and either average mass loss or average damaged length;
- removes the performance requirements for after-flame time;
- removes the performance requirements for individual specimens; and
- maintains the performance requirement of the horizontal test (if required).
- respecting labelling requirements:
- introduces a safety alert symbol;
- introduces a cautionary statement about keeping exits clear so that occupants may escape quickly in the event of a fire;
- introduces a cautionary statement about not applying foreign substances to the tent to avoid diminishing its flame resistance properties;
- introduces a cautionary statement about ensuring adequate ventilation to help occupants avoid suffocation from carbon monoxide poisoning when using fuel-powered appliances in a tent. Although this statement is not related to tent fire safety as are the other messages on the label, it is a first step Footnote 1 in addressing the main cause of tent-related deaths according to U.S. data Footnote 2;
- includes an option for fewer cautionary statements on children's tents; and
- requires labels on children's tents to be prominently displayed on the outside of the tent to be visible to adults/caregivers. Tents that are intended to be entered by an adult can have the label on the inside or outside of the tent.
Health Canada is considering the following regulatory changes:
- Replacing the current requirements set out in the Tents Regulations with the requirements set out in CAN/CGSB-182.1 after it is published. The target date for publication of CAN/CGSB-182.1 is March 31, 2019.
- Aligning the product scope of the Tents Regulations with the product scope of CAN/CGSB-182.1. Tent trailers would be included while tents intended for indoor use only would be excluded.
- Amending the Toys Regulations to continue regulating the flammability and fire-safety labelling of children's play tents intended for indoor use only, with the following considerations:
- Instead of referring to these products as "play tents", Health Canada is considering using the term "toys intended to be entered by a child" to align with ISO 8124-2:2014, Safety of toys - Part 2: Flammability and EN 71-2:2011+A1:2014, Safety of toys, Part 2: Flammability. These products are defined in these standards as toys that are made of flexible materials such as fabric and vinyl and that at least partially enclose a child, such as toy tents, puppet theatres, wigwams and play tunnels, but not open canopies.
- Options being considered to assess the flammability of these products include:
- the flammability requirements for soft toys in the Toys Regulations; or
- the flammability requirements for toys intended to be entered by a child in ISO 8124-2:2014 and EN 71-2:2011+A1:2014.
- Options being considered for warnings on labels to be prominently displayed on the outside of these products include:
- a simplified warning, such as "Warning! Keep away from open flame." in ISO 8124-2:2014 and EN 71-2:2011+A1:2014; or
- a more detailed warning, such as the one proposed for children's tents in CAN/CGSB-182.1, which includes a safety alert symbol, two warning statements and cautionary statements suited for children's tents.
- Prohibiting or restricting the use of chemical flame retardants (FRs) in tents under the Tents Regulations, and in play tents and possibly other toys subject to flammability requirements under the Toys Regulations, including dolls, plush toys and soft toys. FRs prevent or slow the start and spread of fire, and tent manufacturers commonly use FRs to comply with the current flammability requirements. However, handling an FR-treated tent has been shown to result in dermal exposure to the FR, and inhalation exposure is likely to occur while a person is inside a tent Footnote 3. Exposure to some FRs has been associated with adverse health effects. A number of stakeholders have contacted Health Canada to express concerns about using FRs in tents to meet flammability requirements.
- One objective of the CGSB tent committee was to develop a tent flammability standard that would eliminate or greatly reduce the use of FRs while continuing to protect consumers from the risk of tent fires. Preliminary testing by Health Canada's Product Safety Laboratory using a number of common tent materials, with and without FR treatment, has shown that the flammability requirements proposed under CAN/CGSB-182.1 are likely to be met without FR use.
Feedback received by Health Canada on the proposal to amend the Tents Regulations and Toys Regulations, and comments provided to the CGSB on the draft version of CAN/CGSB-182.1, will inform the direction that Health Canada will pursue to address the issues identified in this notice. Any amendments to the Tents Regulations and Toys Regulations would be proposed following the processes laid out in the new Cabinet Directive on Regulation, which came into force on September 1, 2018.
Request for Comments
Please send a letter or email with your comments on Health Canada's proposal to amend the Tents Regulations and Toys Regulations by the closing date of March 23, 2019 to:
Consumer Product Safety Directorate
269 Laurier Avenue West, AL: 4908B
8th Floor, Room 8-030
Comments specific to the draft version of CAN/CGSB-182.1 should be provided directly to the CGSB by the closing date of January 29, 2019. For further information, and to request a copy of the draft standard, please contact the CGSB.
- Footnote 1
The first version of CAN/CGSB-182.1 is intended to focus on the fire safety of tents. Other tent-related health and safety issues - including laceration, puncture, entrapment, strangulation, and suffocation from carbon monoxide poisoning - may be introduced in later versions. In the meantime, industry is directed to other applicable standards or guidelines to help meet its obligations under the CCPSA to market safe products, such as ISO 5912, Camping tents, which covers ventilation and other safety issues. More ideas on how to ensure product safety are available in the document entitled Industry Guidance - "Danger to Human Health or Safety" Posed by Consumer Products.
- Footnote 2
United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (May 15, 2017), Incidents Involving Tents Between 2010 and 2015. This report was prepared at the request of the CGSB tent committee to support the development of this standard.
- Footnote 3
Gomes, G., et al. Characterizing Flame Retardant Applications and Potential Human Exposure in Backpacking Tents. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2016, 50 (10), pp 5338-5345.
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