Your bedroom is your sanctuary. An inviting welcome after a long day. It’s your spot to unwind and sleep, preparing for the morning. While you sleep your body performs critical “clean up” activities analogous to taking out the trash that accumulated during the day. In a perfect world, your bedroom would be clean and healthy to make it easier to tidy up.
Unfortunately, your mattress may be working against you. Many mattress makers use chemical flame retardants. You can inhale and absorb these chemicals while you sleep, creating a greater burden on your body. Opting for All Natural bedding free of harmful chemicals can help you live healthier.
Due to regulations, most mattress makers use large amounts of chemical flame retardants. Mattresses must pass flame tests to meet regulations. Most conventional mattress makers rely on chemical flame retardants to meet the guidelines. Conversely, All Natural mattress makers take a different approach to meeting the safety guidelines. They use natural fibers which are “naturally” flame retardant.
The experts agree that the fire-retardant chemicals used today are toxic. This is a critical point. The chemicals used to make mattresses flame retardant are known to be harmful. By learning the facts, you can make better decisions for your health.
Many think an older mattress is safer than a newer mattress because it’s done off-gassing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Your mattress will continue to emit the flame retardants throughout its life.
If you bought your current mattress before 2006, it may contain PBDE. PBDEs are dangerous fire-retardants. After years of study, regulators banned the use of PBDEs as flame retardants in 2005. For more information, get a copy of the EPAs PBDE Fact Sheet.
If you’re feeling relieved because you bought your mattress after 2006, it’s still bad news. In 2006, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) created stricter fire safety regulations. In order to meet the fire safety regulations, conventional mattress manufacturers began to use even larger amounts of fire-retardants. As a result, newer mattresses are more heavily treated with chemicals.
Fire-retardant chemicals can include Boric Acid, Melamine, Antimony Trioxide, DBDPO, Formaldehyde, and Vinyl Chloride. The CPSC studied these toxic chemicals. Their study found evidence of cancer, neurotoxicity and developmental and reproductive problems among others.
Everyone seems to agree, including the CPSC and other experts, that these chemical flame retardants are toxic. The disagreement is about “safe” chemical flame retardant levels.
According to other experts and government agencies outside of the CPSC, the “safe” daily and lifetime exposure levels set by the CPSC are not safe. These experts, including the EPA, think that safe levels should have been set lower.
In summary, experts agree flame retardant chemicals are toxic and many experts think that the CPSC allowable amounts are too high for your safety.
Understanding how you are exposed to fire retardants helps explain the risks. According to the 2006 CPSC study, toxic fire-retardant chemicals leach from your mattress through sheets. You can absorb the chemicals by breathing, ingesting or absorbing them through your skin. In fact, the study quantified the amount of these chemicals you absorb every day.
Pretty scary, right?
You are safer sleeping on a natural or organic mattress that uses naturally flame retardant wool coverings to comply with safety regulations.
Why? Because mattresses covered in wool are naturally flame-retardant, so they don’t require chemical flame retardants. With an organic mattress, you don’t have to worry about inhaling or absorbing harmful chemicals. Plus, natural and organic materials like cotton, pure wool, and 100% natural latex won’t off-gas like synthetic mattresses. Opting for organic and natural bedding is especially important for infants and children.
You have three options to make your bedroom the safe haven you need.
1. Buy an all natural, organic mattress made with materials like wool that are naturally flame retardant.
2. Buy a conventional mattress without chemical flame retardants. Some mattress manufacturers will take orders for mattresses without chemical flame retardants with a note from your doctor.
In Part II of this story, you’ll learn about the importance of All Natural pillows in promoting good health.
For more information about keeping your home free of dangerous chemicals, read how to Keep Your Home Free of Formaldehyde.