The initial reason for adding fire retardants to fibers was commendable -- fire marshals reported that more individuals died or were injured from mattresses or upholstered furniture catching fire than from any other type of fire. But we're now finding -- from growing reports of illnesses seemingly linked to mattress purchases -- that this solution may also have its serious drawbacks.
Many people who suffer with headaches, joint aches, and other physical ills on a daily basis reach for over-the counter remedies to quell their pain. Few, if any, would ever suspect their bedding is the cause of their problems.
We hear about flame resistant fibers from the CPSC and bedding manufacturers. These flame resistant fibers have chemicals blended with the fiber as the fiber is made.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission lists the following chemicals as the primary ones used in bedding to meet current laws: boric acid, formaldehyde, antimony trioxide, decabromodiphenyl oxide (DBDPO Deca), vinylidiene chloride, zinc borate, and melamine.
BORIC ACID (H3BO3): known as the best roach killer, is a known reproductive and developmental toxin (demonstrated injury to the gonads and developing fetus), high pre-natal mortality, reduced sperm counts, and respiratory irritant.
FORMALDEHYDE MSDS: "Poison! Danger! Suspect cancer hazard. May cause cancer. Risk of cancer depends on level duration of exposure. Vapor harmful. Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through skin. Causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Strong sensitizer. May be fatal or cause blindness if swallowed. Cannot be made non-poisonous."
ANTIMONY (SB203): quote from college chemistry textbook: "Antimony resembles arsenic very closely" Quotes from ATSDR a division of the CDC: increase in spontaneous abortions, disturbances in menstruation, failure to conceive & problems in fertility, may cause heart to beat irregularly or stop. Prolonged or repeated exposure can damage the liver or heart. The CDC cannot determine a safe level of Antimony exposure because "At the lowest exposure levels tested, the adversity of the effects was considered to be serious." The cancer effects are cumulative.
Deca (DBDPO): is in the family of PBDE’s being found in women’s breast milk, is known to bioaccumulate, is linked to cancer, and many groups are trying to get it banned.
MELAMINE RESIN: barriers contain Formaldehyde
The CPSC 2006 assessment found that we absorb a daily dose of toxins from flameproof mattresses alone, of; .802 mg Antimony (the EPA published safe number is .0004 mg), .081 mg Boric Acid, .073 mg DBDPO Fatal human dose is 2g child, 5g adult = mattresses exceed toxic levels by 27.5 times by the EPA in CPSC safety calculations.
Most people have trouble believing that the bedding industry and the government have put poisonous chemicals in our mattresses to make them fireproof, and think they must use a different chemical. No, according to experts, the chemical used is exactly the same as the pesticide. A good example is to check an attached content law tag from your bedding; if it says 'Treated Cotton,' it is likely boron/boric acid.
Many doctors had initially opposed the move to add chemicals to mattresses, fearing such potential adverse effects. But the law was enacted, nonetheless.
CPSC migration studies prove these toxins leach through our sheets to be absorbed by our bodies, and was based on assumptions of per hour absorption with our bodies. Children under 5 were excluded from the studies by assuming all children would be protected by a vinyl sheet over their mattress, due to bed-wetting. We do not know the extent our children's mattresses contain toxic and cancer causing chemicals, and the doses of poisons they are absorbing daily.
And as of July 1 2007, more bad news. New federal regulations require yet more fire retardant material in mattresses, hence more potentially allergic material for the sensitive sleeper to contend with.
Don't automatically think you are safe when using "natural" fiber bedding, as Cotton is said to be the worst offender, because it is the most heavily sprayed crop. Cotton batting barriers contain 10% poison, 7.5% Boric Acid plus 2.4% Antimony.
This is where it pays to buy Organic and not just natural. Certified Organic means the contents have been grown in an environment, harvested, processed, and manufactured without chemicals, with a lower carbon footprint than traditional.
One new trend in all bedding is to speak about organic or green memory foam. There are ways to make memory foam more "green friendly" using latex made from the rubber tree. There are a lot of look-a-likes out there, so please be aware of what you are really purchasing. Make sure it is 100% natural and uses organic fabric covers, or you defeat your purpose of buying toxic-free bedding.
Fortunately, there is at least one good method to reduce mattress combustibility without adding harmful chemicals. Manufacturers can add a layer of alpaca fiber or wool, to either side of an untreated natural fiber fill. This serves as an effective fire barrier - no chemicals needed.
Alpaca fiber or wool is a natural fire-retardant fiber without the need of chemicals.
Our Malpaca pillows are filled with 100% U.S. Alpaca.