Safer Mattresses (or “Did you know there’s probably boric acid in your kid’s pillow?”)

I’m all for safety, and for helping people not to be injured in fires.  But our nation’s flammability standards for pillows and mattresses are just a leetle bit over the top. (By which I mean, they are WAY OVER THE TOP!)

There are a few companies out there that make chemical-free mattresses that meet flame-retardant laws; most of them are wrapped in wool, which is naturally flame-retardant.  There are also “alternate” flame retardants, but since regulation of safety of chemicals is so poor in this country, I’m skeptical about their safety as well.  So here’s a bunch of links I’ve come across at various times.

A number of sites will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the safety/toxicity of various flame retardant methods–unfortunately, none of them seem to agree.  The People for Clean Beds one (which interestingly enough is happy to sell you a chemical-free mattress) is fairly dramatic and alarmist in their claims.  Less alarmist but actually more alarming, Non-Toxic.com also has a lot of cautions about the particular toxicities of various common mattress chemicals.  Then again, the Sleep Products Safety Council reassures us that it’s all perfectly safe. (The word “products” in their title is not reassuring to me, however.)  I’m not going to re-hash all the different chemicals for you here; you can check it out in various places.

Another post on the MNN talks about some of the different options some manufacturers are coming up with.  Ikea is phasing out brominated retardants and uses an alternate kind now…and Sealy’s Nature-Pedic are now made as a barrier retardant rather than soaking the whole mattress in chemicals.  And the same site has links to the Environmental Working Group’s site with some decent info.

The Daily Green has some further information about Ikea’s phasing out of the brominated and antimony compounds.

Non-Toxic Kids has found a company that makes safe mattresses.

A few companies I’ve found who make mattresses you might try:

  • The Natural Sleep Store
  • White Lotus (this is what we bought for our son when he graduated to a Big Boy Bed; it’s fairly firm, but he’s comfortable on it!)
  • Wellspring Mattresses (I think this is cool–they use recycled PET for the mattress stuffing, which is flame retardant without added chemicals.)

Also, don’t assume that whoever is selling you the mattress knows what they are talking about–I responded to an ebay listing for “chemical free futon” and had a really fascinating (by which I mean obnoxious) back-and-forth with a really jerky seller. If they can’t tell you what the mattress is treated with, or if they send you form letters saying “all our products meet CPSC guidelines”, assume they have no clue and go elsewhere or keep persisting.

So…next time you need to replace your sleeping situation…think about which is more dangerous: the possibility of your mattress catching on fire, or the definite situation of spending 8 hours a night breathing in whatever your mattress has been treated with…

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Posted on August 11, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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