During the in first years, infants and toddlers spend at least 50% of their time sleeping, so it is essential that the time is spent on a healthy and comfortable mattress. Here is a great article, “Keep Your Baby off that Foam Crib Mattress,” by Katherine Martinko from Green Home, that discusses the dangers of the foam used in many baby products such as crib mattresses, car seats and more.
What do crib mattresses, cushioned car seats, and change tables all have in common? Yes, babies use them, but all of these items contain foam. This is problematic, since foam releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment. VOCs come from the variety of resins, catalysts, solvents, and adhesives that are used in the manufacturing process, and they continue to volatilize long after production.
Chronic exposures to low levels of VOCs have been linked in the past to infant allergies, asthma, and lung infections, but researchers have now done something different. They have measured the actual quantity of VOCs being emitted in a sleeping baby’s bedroom, and what they found is quite scary.
Researchers from the University of Texas, led by environmental engineer Brandon Boor, analyzed 20 new and used crib mattresses made from either polyurethane foam or polyester foam. In a bedroom-sized chamber with a heated steel cylinder to imitate the heat released by a sleeping infant’s body (which would speed up the release of VOCs), they compared measurements of VOCs within the room (10 feet away from the crib) and within the infant’s breathing zone (2.5 cm/1 in above the mattress).
According to Chemical & Engineering News, they found 30 different VOCs, including some that are classified as environmental pollutants and developmental disruptors. New mattresses released four times as many VOCs as old ones on average.
But most importantly, they found that VOCs were significantly higher in the infant’s breathing zone than in the middle of the room, which is serious when you consider that many infants sleep 12-14 hours a day in close proximity to foam.
The good news is that consumers don’t have to wait around for the industry to fix itself. There are alternative solutions that use latex, natural rubber, organic cotton, eucalyptus fibre, and/or coconut coir fillings, and are coated in organic cotton or wool, which are natural flame retardants. If you’re looking for a crib mattress, start by checking out this helpful list at Inhabitots. If you can’t afford a natural mattress, one of the study’s coauthors recommends setting aside a new mattress for six months before bringing it into the house, giving it time to off-gas sufficiently.
Check out our previous blog about OMI’s certified-organic crib mattresses, Providing a Safe Sleeping Environment.
For more OMI product information, click HERE.
Bedroom Magazine recently posed the question, “What does your company do to reduce your carbon footprint?” Below is the response to that question from OMI’s President, Walt Bader:
“A carbon footprint is actually two footprints. The primary footprint is the total of all direct carbon dioxide emissions you personally produce or are responsible for. During our manufacturing process we produce zero. Even our forklift trucks are electric. Certainly, we contribute when we fly. We do not operate our own delivery services and we own no trucks. Secondarily, we source raw materials as close to our point of manufacturing as possible: wool from California, cotton from Texas, fabrics from the southern United States and all our packaging and materials are manufactured locally.
We completely recycled our scrap, and you would be hard pressed to find a garbage can on the floor. From the outset, OMI has been wholly dedicated to supporting America’s organic farmers, and thoroughly supports both the spirit and goals of reducing carbon footprints throughout the world.”
To learn more about the steps OMI takes to ensure our factory is as efficient as possible, visit our website HERE.
Airing tonight on HBO is a documentary that explores the chemical-laden flame retardants contained in much of today’s furniture.
Here is an excerpt from the article, Should Americans Fear Their Furniture? by New York Times author Jane Margolies:
“The pet hairs and red wine stains on sofas across America, it turns out, should be the least of our concerns. The real issue is what is in the foam cushions we curl up on every day: up to two pounds of flame retardants.
In their HBO documentary “Toxic Hot Seat,” scheduled to be aired on Monday, the directors James Redford and Kirby Walker disclose that these chemicals, as used in home furnishings, do not stop fires. They do, however, whoosh out of seat cushions when we plop down, hitching a ride on airborne dust and ending up in our bodies. They have been linked to cancer and other health disorders.
The film explores how a 1975 California law requiring retardants (Technical Bulletin 117) became widely adopted. And it follows the firefighters, scientists, health advocates, state legislators and investigative journalists who brought attention to the chemicals, leading to a recent reform of the California mandate — which the directors, who spoke from their homes in the San Francisco area, applaud.”
For the full article click HERE.
This issue was previous explored in the OMI blog “Makers of Flame Retardants Manipulate Research Findings.”
We at OMI continue to use a safer system that allows us to use organic wool as our only flame retardant. As a result, our mattresses are able to pass federal flame tests without the use of toxic chemicals or silica barriers. To use any form of chemical flame retardant in our products would violate our ethical standards and integrity. We stand by our purity so you and your family can have a safer place to rest your heads at night.
To learn more about OMI and the certified products we offer, click HERE.
Here is an excerpt from the article “Are You Sleeping on an Oil Field?” by Channaly Philipp, about the health risks of traditional foam mattresses and the benefits of organic:
“If you sleep on a conventional mattress (like most people do), you’re spending a third of your life lying on toxic chemicals. If this little-known fact has you tossing and turning, read on.
Since the 1960s, mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a material derived from petroleum that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The popular memory foam mattresses are made from this material.
But VOCs are only part of the cocktail of chemicals in foam mattresses. Required to be flame-resistant, foam mattresses are imbued with flame-retardant chemicals that can cause cancer and nervous-system disorders.
Walt Bader, a sufferer of a condition called multiple chemical sensitivity and the author of “The Toxic Bedroom,” had several mattresses analyzed by a lab in Atlanta in 2005. One memory foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals.
The next year, he published the first definitive list of chemicals outgassing from memory foam mattresses.
“Nine of these chemicals are recognized as carcinogens by just about every significant health organization in the world,” Bader said on his website. “And do you know what has happened? Nothing.”
The outgassing is not only nefarious to people who suffer from respiratory issues, but some of the chemicals are also known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
As more people become educated about what they’re sleeping on, they are turning to organic mattresses and bedding in greater numbers.
….Organic mattresses, made of natural materials such as wool, cotton, and rubber latex, present an alternative to conventional mattresses and are becoming increasingly popular.
Wool is a natural fire retardant, and is excellent for regulating temperature and air circulation—a boon for anyone suffering from night sweats. The natural materials are also resistant to dust mites, which are a trigger for asthma and allergies.”
For the full article, click HERE.
As you are transitioning your bedding from summer to winter, think about adding a layer of comfort to the surface of your mattress with a natural rubber topper.
This 2″-deep natural rubber topper offers surface softness without taking away the support of your mattress. It’s made with a single core of USDA certified organic natural rubber latex sap, and covered with our signature OrganicPedic® knit quilting.
For more information about OMI pillow tops, click HERE.