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KEEP YOUR CHILDREN OFF
CHEMICAL MATTRESSES

Many conventional mattresses have become “chemical mattresses.” The increase of the use of chemical fire-retardants in many conventional inner-spring mattresses is a result of compliance with the new federal open-flame mattresses standards. Mattresses must now be able to resist an open-flame applied directly to the top and side for 70 seconds. Mark Strobel, director the PeopleForCleanBeds organization, says “that treating these mattresses to pass the blowtorch, open-flame test would require that mattresses be treated with known acutely toxic and cancer-causing chemicals—particularly boric acid, also known as roach killer, as well as antimony, which is a heavy metal almost identical to arsenic.”

Antimony has been banned as a fire-retardant in Europe where research has shown that it leaches through the vinyl on crib mattresses, and linked this to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Crib and youth mattresses must also be flameproof under the new federal standards. Unfortunately, the chemical fire-retardants widely used prior to the new standards were often PBDEs before they were recently banned. PBDEs have been also banned in Europe were research has shown they bioaccumulate in the body, in women’s breast milk, and have been linked to cancer. PDBEs are used because they are the simplest and cheapest way to conform to United States mattress fire resistance codes and have been used extensively as a fire-retardant in petroleum-based foam mattresses, including youth and crib mattresses.

In order to pass the open-flame test, fire-retardant chemicals must saturate the mattress ticking in high concentrations, with over a pound and a half of chemicals in the ticking of the average queen inner-spring mattress. Research has proven that these chemicals leach out of the mattress and are absorbed by our bodies in measurable quantities that are far over the safe numbers determined by the EPA. TV stations on CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX, newspapers and magazines have done news stories on toxic beds, and more will certainly follow.

Fortunately there are solutions that allow you to avoid exposing yourself or your children to “chemical mattresses.” There has been a tremendous increase in popularity of all natural mattresses utilizing organic cotton and wool batting in a variety of configurations. Wool is naturally fire retardant and meets all US fire code requirements. While wool ticking can be used in a conventional inner-spring mattress to create a natural mattress with no chemical fire-retardants, wool batting is most often used with organic cotton as a cover for natural latex mattresses.

A natural latex mattress, with an organic cotton and wool cover, combines all of the finest materials from which to build a luxurious natural mattress. Natural wool batting is unsurpassed in its ability to transport moisture and regulate body temperature, while remaining anti-microbial and resisting dust mites and odors. When natural wool is placed over all natural latex, you have what many consider to be the finest possible sleep surface, known for its durability and hypo-allergenic qualities. A latex mattress distributes body weight and relieves pressure points as well or better than memory foam, without any concerns about toxic off-gassing from polyurethane foam.

Latex, a sustainable resource that is harvested from the rubber tree, has been widely used for mattresses in Europe for many years. Europe has a much more cautious approach to concerns for the long term accumulation and chemical absorption resulting from the use of chemical fire-retardants, and has led the way in banning toxic chemicals. A latex mattress provides the ideal solution to avoiding “chemical mattresses” and the toxic off-gassing that should be a very real concern for us all.

Of special concern should be crib or youth mattresses, which are often made with polyurethane foam. These mattresses are often saturated with PBDEs as a fire-retardant, and will break down over time into a toxic dust and into the air in the form of formaldehyde gas, which is a by-product of the foam breakdown. Foam crib mattresses will also breakdown as a result of mold or fungus created by moisture working its way into the foam. If the crib mattress has conventional ticking, it could be saturated with boric acid and antimony, which resembles arsenic, of which the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) admits “The cancer effects are cumulative. Every exposure contributes to the overall lifetime risk of developing cancer.”

Infants are developing very rapidly, particularly their lungs and entire respiratory system. With research verifying significant levels of chemical absorption from toxic off-gassing, error on the side of caution for your crib mattress, as your infants will spend up to half their early life on that mattress. A latex mattress, which a natural wool mattress pad, provides the perfect toxin-free and moisture proof surface for your child to develop free from contact with a “chemical mattress.”

Written by: KC Ennis


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