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What are flame retardants ?

Flame retardants are materials or substances that inhibit or slow down the growth of a fire. As such, the term “flame retardant” does not refer to a specific class of chemical rather it describes the function of retarding a flame. This concept is not always understood.
They are incorporated in different materials to reduce the risk of fire either by providing increased resistance to ignition, acting to slow down combustion and thereby delay the spread of flames : they save lives, prevent injuries and property losses, and  contribute  to protecting the environment.

Flame retardants can thus make a decisive contribution to the safety of people, animals, buildings, furniture, electric and electronic apparatus (exemplified in images below), textiles, public transport and cars.

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Source :http://www.bsef.com