Federal law mandates that certain household items be treated with flame retardants to reduce their flammability and conventional mattresses are at the top of the list, especially those made with highly flammable materials like polyurethane foam, the key ingredient in most memory foam mattresses. Legislators back flame retardants because they are proven to curb flammability, mitigate the damage caused by fire, and save lives, but they have a troubled past. Early compounds were quickly outlawed for their high toxicity and over thirty years later, those flame-retardants are still detected in breast milk and umbilical cord blood. Not cool.
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What are the current health risks associated with fire retardants?
There is a growing scientific consensus about the health risks associated with sleeping on non organic mattresses treated with flame retardants. Research reveals that flame retardant compounds inhibit thyroid and liver function, increasing the risk for cancer as well as pulmonary damage. And it is particularly troubling that flame retardants have been detected in breast milk because of the overwhelming evidence linking them to neurological damage in young children.
Why does my non organic mattress pose such a specific threat to my health?
Flame retardants are everywhere, not only in your non organic mattress. You can find them in auto upholstery, carpet padding, baby and children car seats, drapery, and basic building materials. However, most people don’t spend much time in close proximity to any of these items. If you get a regular eight hours of sleep, you will end up spending approximately 121 days a year breathing in the flame retardants your non organic mattress wafts your way. Bet you can’t say the same about your drapes.
Do organic mattresses contain fire retardants?
Natural latex mattresses padded with organic wool and cotton are not treated with fire retardants. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on the lookout for greenwashing. A mattress labeled “natural” or “eco-friendly” may still contain synthetic latex, which is made with petroleum, requiring the use of flame retardants. Just because a mattress is made with organic materials doesn’t automatically exempt it from flammability standard so make sure you look for the purest natural latex.
Scientists still have a lot to learn about the specific ways flame retardants affect the human body. The question is: what should you do while the verdict is out? If you’re still sleeping on a non organic mattress, you may want to do a little research about the flame retardants the manufacturer used when making your bed in order to make an educated decision (check for yourself and GOOGLE “Flame Retardants and Your Thyroid”). Then make an appointment to drop by the showroom and see for yourself what natural latex is all about!