Thursday, November 29, 2012

toxic free sleep, should we worry about mattress chemicals?

it is hard to consider what we can't see...

you use natural cleaners, organic clothing and bedding, and wash your baby in dye and chemical free soaps but a lot of time we forget to stop and consider what is in the every day baby gear we are using.

i would have never given it a second thought until i came across a certain post on a facebook page i follow, naturally born. i can't remember what the specific post was about, probably something totally off topic from what the asker was wondering, that happens a lot in the replies on there, but it started to go on and on about toxins in a baby's standard mattress and a light bulb went off in my head.

while i am not worried about running out and purchasing a $259 organic crib mattress it got me thinking about the fact that robin had been (sorta) sleeping in a vintage cradle that had been in my family for forty some odd years and get this, was still outfitted with the original mattress. within minutes i was on my amazon app ordering a new pad for the cradle, next day shipping - i choose to save my money and buy one that follows all government regulations when it comes to materials and chemicals, that specifically states that it is void of any harsh toxic fire retardants, and is hypoallergenic. i also decided i will add a naturepedic pad/cover to add that extra layer of protection and other benefits.

seems like a no brainer and i am a little embarrassed that i hadn't thought of this right off hand when i unwrapped the stored cradle and plopped the ridiculously patterned and ugly and smells like my grandmas house pad into the cradle. luckily, robin had only been laid down in it for a couple of very short periods. i know all that i am saying could seem over the top, our kids are constantly exposed to things that could "potentially" harm them but once i started looking into it a little, what everyone was saying made sense to me so i had to listen. think about it this way, your baby will spend many hours breathing into their crib/cradle mattress and while the facts on these chemicals may not be concrete it is still something to consider.

i bring this up now because i have tons of friends who love to thrift for vintage goodies or like me will always seek out used baby gear first, like from a consignment store. i just encourage you to pay attention to the mattress that it comes with and make an informed decision whether to replace it or keep it.

i found this great report called "the matress matters" from clean and healthy new york - it outlines some results they found on current mattress and what to look for, or stay away from in any.

(i went ahead and added the links to the mentioned mattress companies in case you were currently in the market for one.)

"Toxic chemicals are everywhere in modern life: building materials, shampoos, furniture, and clothing. Parents are learning to not assume products on store shelves are safe. Sadly, toxic chemicals even turn up in the materials used to make crib mattresses.

Infant mattresses are intended to provide a safe, comfortable sleeping surface, and they all have the same basic overall structure: 1) the core, 2) padding, 3) flame retardantmaterial and chemicals, and 4) a cover or "ticking,¨ which may also have chemicals added to make it waterproof. Available crib mattress options range from those madealmost entirely of petroleum-based products using chemicals of concern to others made of natural fibers like wool or cotton.

We surveyed 28 mattress makers that produced a total of 190 models of standard US (69 x 131 cm) crib mattresses. They are all available at stores or online. We gathered information via websites, emails, and direct phone calls.

We sought to find out just what crib mattresses are made of, and how willing manufacturers are to provide this information.

We discovered that the marketplace is shifting towardsless toxic materials in response to consumer demand.Some of these shifts have resulted in safer products, while some have been minor tweaks that represents a thin "green" veneer over conventional materials.

72% of surveyed mattress models use one or more chemicals of concern identified in this report, such as antimony, vinyl, polyurethane, and other volatile organic compounds.

40% use vinyl coverings.

22% use proprietary formulas for waterproofers, flame retardants or antibacterials, keeping potential healthimpacts secret.

20% of surveyed mattresses offer some "green" components but do not take meaningful steps to ensure products are free of toxic chemicals.

The good news is that 20% of mattresses avoid chemicals of concern, and an additional 8% also avoid potential allergens.

Crib mattress may contain chemicals of concern in anyof the four layers. For example:

Some flame retardants are made with antimony, whichis also a contaminant of polyester. Long-term inhalationof low levels is linked to eye irritation and heart and lung problems. 

Vinyl, used as a waterproof cover, relies on manytoxic chemicals throughout its production, includingcancer-causing chemicals(2), asthma triggers, and developmental toxins.

Polyurethane foam, also appearing as "memory foam" or "soy foam," is made with a potentially cancer-causingchemical, and may emit harmful "VOCs" - volatile organic compounds - in the home.

VOCs can also be found in synthetic latex foam. V OCs can irritate eyes, nose andthroat, cause headaches and some cause cancer.(5)

Companies that use proprietary chemicals, or refuse todisclose chemical use, make it impossible to determine potential health threats. In the absence of disclosure,we assume they may cause harm.

Only Soaring Heart Natural Bed Company and Naturepedic fully disclosed on their website all chemicals and materials used. Upon email or phone request, 24 of theremaining 26 companies were willing to provide some information. However, 39% of manufacturers refused to fully disclose materials they used. Most often, they failed to provide information about how they make mattresses flameresistant, waterproof, or antimicrobial.

We found three companies that focus on making someor all of their crib mattresses without both chemicals of concern and allergens:
White Lotus

Vivetique and White Lotus require a doctor's prescription for mattresses without both chemicals of concern and allergens. Custom mattresses from other manufacturers may be availableby request, but are not included in those surveyed. The following companies have focused on making all of their crib mattress models without chemicals of concern, but use some materials that may be allergenic:
Land and Sky
Natural Mat
Organic Mattresses, Inc.
Pure Rest
Savvy Rest
Shepherd's Dream
Soaring Heart Natural Bed Company
Suite Sleep
Vivetique (other models)
White Lotus (other models)

Of the 16 remaining companies using one or morechemical of concern, the following companies offer no "green" models, and directly refused to provide some information:
Dream on Me

what do you think about all of this? does it change the way you evaluate your baby purchases? like i said, i am not going to run out and go crazy but it made me think twice about the forty year old pad my baby was sleeping on.