The Senate late yesterday passed a bill requiring the Consumer Product Safety Commission to mandate safety standards on the cellulose home insulation industry within 120 days. The bill now goes to the House for its approval.

Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky.) said he introduced the bill to deal with "the growing problem of flammability of cellulose home insulation."

Ford said that the CPSC had been warned of the dangers of cellulose insulation in the spring of 1975, but still not taken decisive action.

"I have concluded that the present timetable is insufficient and inadequate to effectively cope with the growing national problem of improperly treated cellulose home insulation," Ford said recently. "The current shortage of fiberglass insulation will mean that more and more people will turn to cellulose, about which many safety problems still exist."

Ford sent a strongly worded letter to the commission last October. After receiving the response, he said, "Based on the commission's past performance and indications to me, I see very little likelihood that standards for cellulose insulation will be in place before 18 months."

CPSC chairman S. John Byington has welcomed Ford's bill, saying it will help create a standard faster than the commission could under its own statutes. But CPSC commissioner Barbara Franklin has said she opposes the legislation, and commissioner David Pittle had said he had some misgivings.

But last week, Ford met with Pittle and made a change in the bill that satisfied his objections. The change allows the CPSC more flexibility at a later date to update the standards that will be adopted now.

According to Pittle, one problem with Ford's bill was that it would force the CPSC, in the interest of gettig a standard passed in a hurry, to adopt an existing General Services Administration standard used for government purchasing, a sandard that did not address many of the potential problems posed by cellulose insulation.

The revision allows the CPSC to substitute, at a later date, newer, more relevant, standards presently being developed.