Stop Loading Mattresses with Fire-Retardant Chemicals

mattress

Target: U.S. Congress

Goal: Minimize and disclose chemicals used in mattresses

People spend one third of their lives sleeping on mattresses loaded with chemicals such as antimony, boric acid, and Decabromodiphenyl Oxide. These flame-retardant chemicals have been linked with asthma attacks, skin rashes, cancer, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), among other disorders. Mattress companies are not required to disclose the chemicals they use and research into safety is minimal. Demand that U.S. Congress stop putting people at risk and remove toxic chemicals from mattresses.

Previously, mattresses were required by law to not ignite when exposed to a burning cigarette to reduce mattress fires. In 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission decided to radicalize this, requiring that “mattresses must withstand a blowtorch open flame two feet wide for 70 seconds and not ignite for 30 minutes.” There is absolutely no reason to make mattresses capable of withstanding a blowtorch, except for the financial gain to certain groups.

Although publicized as protecting consumers, the law was actually lobbied for by large mattress and chemical companies. The mattress companies financially benefit by keeping smaller competitors out of the business because of the high cost of running blowtorch tests. Additionally, they were able to push consumers to buy new mattresses by stating the new ones were “safer.” Chemical companies financially benefit from selling these toxic chemicals. The law requires no disclosure of which chemicals are used, protecting this information as a “trade secret.” The general public has no idea their mattresses contain anything out of the ordinary.

Fire deaths are indeed a legitimate concern, requiring educating children not to play with matches and smokers to safely extinguish cigarettes. Loading mattresses with toxic chemicals is not the answer. It puts everyone’s health at an unknown risk.

Studies done by the Consumer Product Safety Commission reveal that people do absorb the chemicals contained in their mattresses at higher rates than anticipated. Antimony alone may be absorbed at a rate of 0.8mg per night, which is 27 times the amount the EPA considers safe. Young children are particularly at risk because of their higher sensitivity and lower body weight. Many mattress workers also reported illness after the law went into effect.

Demand that Congress amend the law passed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and remove toxic chemicals from standard mattresses. Special “flame-retardant” mattresses can be sold for consumers who want this option, but they should be clearly labeled and all chemicals used for flame-resistance should be disclosed along with their suspected health risks.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear U.S. Congress,

Today’s mattresses contain toxic chemicals such as antimony, boric acid, and Decabromodiphenyl Oxide to make them flame-resistant. This poses a health risk to consumers who may inhale or absorb these chemicals as they sleep, especially children because of their higher sensitivity and lower body weight. Please require mattress companies to stop using harmful chemicals and to clearly disclose any fire-proofing treatments used.

In 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission passed an over-zealous law stating that “mattresses must withstand a blowtorch open flame two feet wide for 70 seconds and not ignite for 30 minutes.” This has led to high amounts of toxic chemicals being used in mattresses. Many people complain of acute skin irritation and breathing problems due to their mattresses, and there may be a risk for cancer or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well. Additionally, many mattress workers have reported illness since the law went into effect.

Although fire deaths are a real concern, the solution to this is to increase education and preventative techniques such as restricting smoking in multi-family housing and using child-proof matchboxes. Please protect consumers by making standard mattresses chemical-free. Require that companies clearly disclose all fire-proofing treatments they use on special fire-resistant mattresses that can be available for consumers who want them.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Charles Prowell Woodworks

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