December 15, 2008

Christmas tree retardants didn’t help

Two U.S. researchers advise consumers to think twice about spending money on a commercial flame retardant for a Christmas tree.

Drs. Gary Chastagner of Washington State University's Puyallup Research Center and Eric Hinesley of North Carolina State University, tested two flame retardants on Douglas-fir and Fraser fir, and neither showed any benefit to the trees.

Many cities and municipalities require that chemical flame retardants be used on cut Christmas trees displayed in public buildings. However, the assumption that all flame-retardants are effective on Christmas trees has not been proven, Chastagner said.

Because freshly cut Douglas-fir and Fraser fir Christmas trees are almost impossible to ignite and burn when exposed to a small flame, tests were conducted on branches that were not placed in water and allowed to dry naturally, the researchers said.

Neither of the flame retardants showed any benefit to the trees. The chemical used on Douglas-fir caused the branches to dry much faster than non-treated branches so branches treated with the flame retardant became a fire hazard quicker than non-treated branches.

The study is at: