Did You Know…
…you could be slowly poisoning yourself while you sleep?
To be well rested, you should spend about 1/3 of your life sleeping. However, once you know what’s inside your mattress, you may find that hard to do. In order to comply with nationwide fire safety standards—developed from an earlier California law (which I’ll explain further in a moment)—manufacturers coat their mattresses in flame-retardant chemicals known to cause cancer and nervous system disorders.
Top companies such as Simmons, Sealy, and Tempur-Pedic refuse to divulge the exact composition of the chemical blend they use, as they claim the formulas are trade secrets. So Walter Bader, owner of the “green mattress” company Lifekind and author of Toxic Bedrooms, took matters into his own hands.
Bader sent several different types of mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab to be tested. The results showed that a single memory-foam mattress emitted 61 chemicals, including benzene and naphthalene, known carcinogens.
No Level of Exposure is Safe
A risk assessment conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that each night, the average adult absorbs .802 mg of antimony and .081 of boric acid—both are acutely toxic. The CPSC itself acknowledges that the carcinogenic effect of antimony is cumulative: “Every exposure contributes to the overall lifetime risk of developing cancer.”
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is no level of exposure to antimony that is safe: “At the lowest exposure levels tested, the adversity of the effects was considered to be serious.”
Boric acid is also a popular roach killer. Its known effects on humans include:
- Reduced sexual activity
- Birth defects
Fireproof, and “Toxic to Humans”
Whitney Davis, who wrote the original California law, is now having serious second thoughts about the fire safety guidelines he initially championed. “The problem: the only chemicals they can use to achieve compliance are listed as toxic to humans by the EPA, “he said. “You don’t know until 10 years down the road [that] there’s a problem. We feel responsible.”
Mattress industry insiders say they expect backlash as consumers begin to investigate “what’s really lying under their sheets with them.” That backlash may arrive soon: workers are now coming forward with stories about how simply handling the chemically laden mattresses has made them sick.
How to Sleep Chemical Free
While the fire safety laws are well intentioned, the odds of someone dying in a mattress fire are close to 1 in a million. The risk posed by nightly exposure to toxins is far more pressing.
Until existing fire safety laws are amended, experts say your best option is to shop around and find a toxin-free mattress. There are many options out there—from latex to wool. It’s even possible for a doctor or a chiropractor to prescribe a toxin-free bed. As an added bonus, prescription mattresses are tax deductible!
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