Fire retardants in mattresses (and a lot of other household stuff)
Fire retardants are found in most mattresses. In fact, our educated guess is that approximately 90% of all mattresses produced and sold globally contain chemical fire retardants. Chemical fire retardants are highly toxic. Therefore, sleeping on them, is not exactly what you’d call a healthy living environment.
This astounding observation begs the question. Are Fire Retardants necessary? If so, under what circumstances? What kind of fire retardants are found in mattresses? What kind of health problems can they cause?
Before we go any further, Fawcett Mattresses contain NO chemical fire retardants of any sort. We utilize 100% natural joma wool instead. But let’s take a look at the other 90% out there…
Brominated flame retardants (BFR’s) – these are organobromine compounds which contain poly-brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s). Now that’s a mouthful. The bad news is these chemicals are highly persistent and accumulate in our bodies and the food chain.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted a study involving 3971 food samples from 11 countries from 2001 – 2009.
Without geting into all the scientific details and jargon (because who are we kidding, we don’t understand it all) – “the Main targets for PBDE toxicity were the liver, thyroid hormone homeostasis, and the reproductive and nervous system.”
Now this, we understand. Toxicity=bad…and bad for a number of essential bodily functions. If you’d like to read the whole study, it’s found here.
These chemicals can put children at risk for reduced IQ, attention and other child developmental problems. There has also been studies conducted that these fire retardants can cause infertility in adults.
There are a number of experts, now questioning, whole concept of putting fire retardants in mattresses, clothing, furniture and other electronics. Fire risk is real, and frightening.
But if we’re poisoning ourselves, and the food chain, then perhaps the risks of fire are more palatable? I mean, how many of us are smoking in bed? Smoking at all?
These three flame retardants used in children’s products have been identified as being of high concern by government agencies.
“TDCPP was banned from children’s sleepwear in 1977 but is still used in other children’s products. These flame retardants are coming under increasing scrutiny but children can still be exposed.”
These replacements for PBDE’s have also been found to be dangerous.
What kind of materials have fire retardants in them?
From the Gov’t of Canada Website
Flame retardants may be found in many consumer products:
- electronics, such as:
- textile products, such as:
- textile floor coverings
- polyurethane foam products, such as:
- stuffed toys
- pillows and cushions
- upholstered furniture
- plastic and rubber products
They may also be found in:
- construction and renovation products, such as:
- paints and coatings
- lubricants and grease
- spray foam insulation
- construction foam boards
- waterproofing foam products
- adhesives, glues and sealants
- parts for motorized transportation, such as vehicles and aircraft …more info here.
A Ban on PBDE’s in USA…what about Canada?
In 2005 PBDE’s were banned in the USA on a federal level. However, most household consumer products before 2005 contain PBDE’s and are still able to contaminate your environment. There is good news too, since the ban in the USA, PBDE levels have been dropping in women (the test group).
However, as Canadians, we should be VERY concerned that PBDE’s have not been banned yet. The Canadian government has failed to ban them in 2008, and 2016 when the topic was evaluated.
If you’re interested in the progress of the current government legislation and evaluation process, take a look here on the Chemical Safety section of the government’s website.
What type of Mattresses Use Chemical Fire Retardants
So, back to mattresses. Most mattresses are made from petroleum based foams. As you probably realize, petrol (as they call gasoline in the UK and Australia) is highly flammable. So are petroleum based foams.
Every “memory foam” is petroleum based. We have yet to find a memory foam that is not petroleum based.
What about other types of foams? As a general rule, most foams are petroleum based foams. Most mattress making companies, must put toxic substances in their mattresses to meet federal guidelines on flammability.
Petroleum foams are cheap. So, as the adage goes, ‘ you get what you pay for’. Yes you can buy a mattress for $500. But it may also make you sick.
Natural Fire Retardants & Fawcett Mattresses
Instead of using fire retardants, at Fawcett we use 100% natural talalay Latex foam, tapped from rubber trees. The 100% natural talalay latex, is our go-to material, but we also utilize GOLS Certified Organic Latex occasionally. Both are naturally non-flammable, and tapped from rubber trees. Read more about our comparison of Dunlop VS Talalay latex in this post.
We also use 100% organic cotton with natural joma wool as a insulating layer. Wool is a natural fire retardant. It also helps wick moisture away from your body, is antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. It’s truly a wondrous material.
It’s pretty simple. Sleep on a natural mattress, made without chemical fire retardants, and you’re one easy step up in maintaining a healthy home environment. Considering you spend about 1/3 of your life breathing in air very close to your mattress, we think it’s a great choice to make.
So, the next time your friend brags to you about that $500 mattress they found, ask them if they know what it’s made from.
All our mattresses are natural, but in case you’re not sure where to start, check out our Model 6 for simplicity and value. Our Model 1 for simplicity in an all latex model, and our most luxurious is our Model 9.