Gymnastics Training Facilities: Foam Pit Cube Flame Retardant Toxicity and Fire Safety
Presented by Professor Nicholas Dembsey, Dr. Courtney Carignan and Mr. Frederick Brokaw
Gymnastics training facilities contain large volumes of polyurethane foam in the form of landing mats and loose foam pit cubes, which are used to ensure the physical safety of gymnasts. Competitive gymnasts were recently found to experience high exposures to flame retardants due to the use of these chemicals in gymnastics training equipment, particularly the loose foam pit cubes. To better understand the potential trade-off of exposure to flame retardants and fire safety, incident data on ignition sources and fire severity of gym fires were reviewed, and experiments were conducted on foam pit cubes as they are used in gyms to demonstrate their fire performance with and without flame retardants when exposed to cigarette smolder and small open flame ignition sources. This interactive presentation will provide practical, useful information, and allow time for questions and discussion with AHJs to better inform them relative to the potential trade-off between foam toxicity and fire safety.
Nicholas Dembsey is a Professor of Fire Protection Engineering at WPI. His general interests involve the fire behavior of materials and assemblies. He teaches courses in fire dynamics and fire modeling. His scholarship and industry outreach has involved in part working with the fiber reinforced polymers industry to improve the fire safety of their products used in architectural applications. He is an editorial board member of the journals Fire Technology and Fire and Materials.
Dr. Carignan is an environmental epidemiologist and exposure scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work focuses on emerging contaminants, particularly flame retardants and endocrine disrupting chemicals, among vulnerable populations and effects on reproduction and child health.
Frederick Brokaw is a Junior at WPI working towards a BS in Architectural Engineering and an MS in FPE. Mr. Brokaw has spent the last 12 months working in the Fire Lab at WPI conducting and assisting with research. His primary interest is Green building design and building safety.
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New England Chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers