Research on flammable creams wins prize for ARU

Published: 13 December 2019 at 14:00

Fabric containing emollient residue

Partnership with fire service wins national award for excellence

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has won a national award in partnership with the fire service for its research into the dangers of flammable emollient skin products.

In partnership with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, the London Fire Brigade and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, ARU has been extensively testing emollient skin creams and presented evidence to the Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) showing that many such products are extremely flammable.

A recommendation has since been made to manufacturers that they should make improvements and changes to packaging to warn consumers of some of the risks,

Emollient skin products are widely prescribed or sold to treat various skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Some contain constituents such as paraffin, oatmeal and oils such as coconut and vegetable.

While they are safe to use, they can dry into clothing, dressings, beddings and towelling, leaving a flammable residue. If exposed to a naked flame or a heat source, the fabrics can catch fire and the oily residue can help the fire develop and spread rapidly. 

The research, which won the Collaboration of the Year award at the Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards, was led by Dr Sarah Hall and Jo Morrissey at ARU.

Dr Hall, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science, said:

“We are very proud of the work we are carrying with our partners looking into the fire risks of emollients. To win an award for such important research, which has a clear public safety benefit, is incredibly pleasing. 

“We would also like to thank the students who have helped us with the research, in particular the contribution from our research assistant Kirsty Blackburn.”

You can read more about the research here