Susannah’s blog

Can an adjective be dangerous?

Almost certainly yes, when it comes to matters of life and death. Following the Grenfell Tower fire, building regulations have come under scrutiny, especially where they deal with combustible materials.

Until recently, materials were described as combustible or non-combustible, according to the Fire Protection Association’s managing director, Jonathan O’Neill. In other words, they either burned or they didn’t.

In an interview on the BBC’s Newsnight, Mr O’Neill said that for some time now people had been talking about “limited combustibility”. The adjective “limited” had introduced a grey area into interpreting the rules.

What problems that adjective may turn out to have caused.

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