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My Take | June 10, 2016 | By:

This month our featured articles are about standards and testing to those standards. This is a big topic. No, it’s huge. There are so many ways to approach this—and so many individual performance requirements—that we could easily have dozens of articles, each one covering a different requirement. I’ve chosen instead to take a broad approach, and I think there’s justification for that: everybody seems to have the same concerns, regardless of the performance standards they have to test to: there are so many standards!

As much as the industry agrees standards are critical, everybody would like to see fewer of them. The challenge is agreeing on how to consolidate, and then test most appropriately. This will take time, but I’m glad to report that there is progress. The move toward simplification is complex, and a measured and deliberate approach makes sense.

Another issue: testing the materials or components in an end product versus testing the end product itself. Ultimately, one of our sources points out, the end product has to perform as designed. But what if it doesn’t? It could be more complicated to figure out why it failed, which is why individual components are tested. Is there a better way?

The work being done at many research facilities and testing labs is nothing short of amazing. I have no doubt that a better way can be found, but it will require time, and we all know time is money.

I encourage you to find out what you can about this important topic and to also get involved in the process of improving how it all works. There are workshops and webinars being offered with some regularity, including one by IFAI on Tuesday, June 21 that offers an overview of environmental issues with flame retardants, and it will discuss existing and upcoming state and federal environmental regulations. Haskell Beckham, Ph.D., senior scientist with consulting firm Exponent, will moderate; speakers are Kristin Robrock, Ph.D., P.E., also with Exponent, and Mark Duvall, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. You can find out more about this webinar and others, and you can register at

It’s a little like politics. There is some obligation as voters to be informed, and we shouldn’t complain about decisions we let others make, either.

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