A report released last month, by Clean and Healthy New York, a project of Women’s voices for the Earth, said that a significant portion of crib mattresses sold in the U.S. contain one or more potentially dangerous chemicals. The finding comes despite previous efforts made by manufacturers to reduce the number of harmful chemicals. The report found that 52% of mattress models surveyed were made with conventional materials, including toxic chemicals, and 20% of mattress models were made without chemicals of concern, but with potential allergens. Only eight percent of mattress models included in the report were made without any chemicals of concern or allergens.
One of the mattress models, the Sealy Baby Firm Crib Mattress, is a top-seller among parents. It uses a vinyl cover coated with an antibacterial. Despite a statement on the company website that the mattress “does not contain any harmful chemicals,” researchers said that the process itself of vinyl manufacturing requires the use of toxic chemicals.
The researchers also warned parents to be on the look-out for other misleading health claims, such as: The addition of soybean or other plant oils to polyurethane foam (which does not decrease use of chemicals of concern) to reduce “carbon footprint” or the use of one or more layers of organic cotton. In one case, the cotton material was then covered with vinyl. Bobbi Chase Wilding, deputy director of Clean and Healthy New York, observed:
The mattress does matter. We call on manufacturers to eliminate toxic chemicals and fully disclose what materials they are using. Parents deserve to protect their babies while they sleep.
Companies demonstrate varying degrees of public disclosure about the chemicals in their mattresses, according to the researchers. Only half of the manufacturers in the study provided full information about the materials used in cribs – even though many of the chemicals the researchers tested for have been shown to cause harm in the past. Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Environment and Health at SUNY Albany School of Public Health, had this to say:
There is a strong connection between chemicals in our environment and many of today’s common health problems, including asthma, learning and developmental disabilities, cancer, infertility, and obesity. This report will help parents choose safer mattresses for their babies and illuminates the need for further changes to how mattresses are made.
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