Avoiding Toxic Chemicals In Baby Mattresses
The type of cot, bassinet, or bed mattress you choose to sleep your babies and children on is much more important to their health than you may think. This article Avoiding Toxic Chemicals In Baby Mattresses will help recognize the dangerous materials and treatments and find safer, healthier and natural options.
Most conventional cot and bassinet mattresses, as well as children’s and adult mattresses, are commonly made from synthetic materials and then treated with highly toxic, fire retardant chemicals.
These chemicals off-gas and expose our babies and children to high levels of hazardous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s).
Dangerous Chemicals In Foam Mattresses
Most standard cot and bed mattresses contain synthetic foam. Foam products are manufactured using an unhealthy mix of different solvents, resins and adhesives. Many of these materials volatilize, that is they produce unhealthy, volatile vapors that release into the air known as Volatile Organic Compounds.
It is well recognized that not only do VOC’s adversely affect humans, but also animals and the environment.
Constant exposure to VOC’s has, been linked to asthma, lung infections, SIDS and allergies in babies and children.
It is not just baby mattresses that contain these toxic chemicals, but so do most baby car seats and prams. Babies are therefore receiving constant and accumulative exposure to these VOC’s. Just tally up how much time your baby spends in his bed, pram and traveling in the car, each day and you will see that his exposure is significant.
This is a very serious health concern when you consider the small body mass ratio to the large VOC’s exposure of babies and young children, as opposed to that of an adult. What is also very worrying, is that an infant’s body is constantly and rapidly developing and this constant exposure to VOC’s during this process can have negative side effects.
Study on Foam Baby Mattresses Releasing Volatile Organic Compounds
Scientific studies have and are currently being done on how these synthetic foams, (commonly polyurethane foam, or polyester foam) used in the manufacturing of mattresses, padded infant car seats, change table mats and pram mattresses, affect infants health and the news is consistently not good – see Chemical and Engineering News, Crib Mattresses Expose Infants To Elevated Levels Of Volatile Organic Compounds.
An environmental engineer at the University of Texas, Austin, Brandon Boor and his team, conducted a study on the levels of VOC’s that are emitted from the foam padding in crib (cot) mattresses and the results were alarming.
- New cot mattresses release 4 times the amount of VOC’s than old mattresses.
- Body heat increased VOC emissions significantly.
- The area around babies immediate breathing zone, (about 2.5 cm’s from the surface of the foam mattress) contained the highest chemical emissions. See more about the study here.
*Please note that although this study showed that new mattresses are 4 times higher in VOC’s does not mean that an old cot mattress is a safer option. Dr Jim Sprott’s studies on 2nd hand cot mattresses showed higher levels of fungus and together the VOC’s produced from these fungus and from the flame retardant chemicals increase the SIDS risk – Read Mattress Wrapping To Prevent SIDS.
Choose Safer & Natural, Organic Baby Mattresses
When you consider how many environmental pollutants and Volatile Organic Compounds, babies and children are incidentally exposed to on a daily basis, it is important that we do all we can to ensure our children’s sleeping environment and especially what their small bodies are sleeping on, are as safe and natural as possible.
For this reason I highly recommend for the health of your babies, children and also for your own health, that you invest in good quality, 100% certified organic cotton cot, bassinet and bed mattresses. There are now numerous organic bedding manufacturers around, my family personally use and have complete confidence in the Australian company Organature.
When shopping for organic mattresses and bedding, it is important that the brand you choose is ‘certified organic’ by a government recognized, organic certification body and that it definitely has NOT been treated with any fire retardant chemicals.
Please remember, there is a huge difference between ‘certified’, organic cotton and conventionally grown cotton. Organic cotton crops are not sprayed with dangerous pesticides and fungicides etc. Whereas most conventional cotton crops are treated and sprayed heavily with toxic chemicals.
Things To Avoid When Shopping for Baby Mattresses
- Foam mattresses can fall under different names – Memory Foam, Tempur etc. The word foam is something to avoid. Also some manufacturers are now creating gel mattresses, again these are highly synthetic and they should be avoided. Even if a mattress is stated as being made with natural materials; e.g soy foam, most will still contain petroleum foam components.
- Synthetic Latex mattresses – some latex mattresses are made from natural rubber, while others are made from synthetic rubber foams, such as Polyurethane foam etc.
- Avoid mattresses treated with fire retardant chemicals. Read this article Toxic Chemicals and Fire Retardants In Mattresses Making Us Sick.
- When buying a mattress, ask to see a complete breakdown of all the materials and treatments used to produce that mattress.
- Avoid plastic coated or covered cot mattresses . These plastic coatings are usually applied to repel moisturize and protect the mattress from stains. Thy are more often than not made using PVC plastic. PVC contains Phthalates. Phthalates off-gas carcinogenic Dioxins. Also avoid polyester coatings and coverings as these too contain toxic petrochemicals.
- If you do buy a conventional, standard synthetic cot and bassinet mattress, you can easily and cheaply protect against Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), by following the The Mattress Wrapping Campaign protocol by Professor Jim Sprott. See article Mattress Wrapping To Prevent SIDS.
- Boor’s study co-author Assistant Professor Ying Xu recommends that if you do buy a new, non-organic cot or bassinet mattress it is adviseable to air it for 6 months before use.
- Make sure that baby’s room is not over-heated and that there is good air-flow throughout the room. Good air flow is important for all rooms in your house.
Also check out my article Keeping Baby’s Room Safer, Healthier & Toxic Free . In this article I show you how to not only make sure your baby sleeps on the healthiest mattress possible, but also easy ways to ensure that your baby’s room is a healthier and safer environment, with cleaner air for her to sleep and play in.
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