Published on January 24th, 2013 | by Mattress Journal2
Big Box Retailers Sued over Toxic Mattresses
As society becomes focused on healthier options for the environment and their health, many are seeking natural replacements for toxic mattress lines. Instead of chemical-based beds shoppers are more interested in beds that include non-toxic materials, like natural latex mattresses. Even as many consumers are becoming more aware of the harmful chemicals that are used in the creation of several mattresses, there are still a number of beds on the market that have been pegged as being too hazardous without proper warning. As a result, legal action has been taken on some big name producers and retailers.
The Toxic Mattress Claim
In October of 2012 the State of California listed TDCPP, a common flame retardant, as a cancer-causing chemical. That list is part of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, which is commonly referred to as Prop 65.
This list is comprised of all of the toxic elements that should not be included in the makeup of products without consumers being completely aware of the risks. Specifically, this outlines that businesses were told to never knowingly exposing consumers to sucks risks without a clear warning label. The Center for Environmental Health discovered that nearly 15 baby and children products and mattresses sold at Walmart, Target, and Babies r Us contained high levels of TDCPP without proper warning. Now, the retailers are being slammed with a lawsuit for subjecting their shoppers to such a risk.
Consumers who purchased these mattresses ultimately were not aware of how damaging the TDCPP could be to their health and it was the retailer’s responsibility to ensure that the product they were selling was suitable for their shoppers. Now, they are being held responsible for not obeying the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.
Why Do Toxins in Mattresses Matter?
You may be asking yourself what the big deal is. After all, manufactures are supposed to make sure their product is good enough to sell, right? Consumers need to understand that many of our mattresses and products are created overseas where they simply do not have the same restrictions and regulations that the United States does when it comes to the chemical content of particular products. Because of that, it is our responsibility to ensure that the products that we sell to our public are not harmful. While TDCPP is the specific problem in the pending law suit, the truth is there are a number of potentially threatening materials that are present in chemical-based mattresses that are created in other countries. In fact, many of the products contain different types of Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs which work as a flame retardant and can also cause severe health problems. Not to mention the possibilities of formaldehyde, harmful petrochemicals, and other manufacturing byproducts.
In particular, PBDEs have been scrutinized as some can create a number of health issues with repeated exposure. While this is certainly not the only way to protect people from fire hazards, it has proven to be the cheapest and that it is why it so widely used. The issues range from mental to behavioral problems and also thyroid hormone disruption and even cancer. PBDEs has been proven to be especially harmful to pregnant women and children. Several beds and mattresses in the market are comprised of this and other harmful chemicals and are not required to be listed on the label. There are some ways to avoid PBDEs without knowing for sure if the product has it. Researchers say to avoid products, especially of polyurethane foam, manufactured prior to 2005 as these products are especially high in the most dangerous PBDEs. Several states and the EU have banned many PBDE’s so the tide appears to be turning, though the verdict is still out on chemicals being used to replace it for fire standards. While this may be a disturbing fact, there are alternatives.
Health Mattress Alternatives
There are numerous benefits to having a chemical-free bed. One thing is for certain you will not being exposing yourself or your family to harmful materials. With a natural mattress you will not run the risk of chemical allergic reactions or skin or eye irritation. With healthier mattresses you not only protect yourself, but you also leave a much smaller impact on the environment. There are options that are all natural, but still offer flame retardants in their makeup for safety. All natural latex is an excellent option for a chemical-free mattress, as latex resists flame better than other materials, and is often combined with wool or fabric barriers as opposed to chemicals. Latex makes an especially good option for a child’s mattress as well. It is important to do research and remember natural mattresses are available for consumers that do not want to risk the chance of being unknowingly sold a bed that could be damaging to their health.