New law requires dangerous chemicals in mattresses—part 2

In part one (Oct. 3-9, 2007, issue), the possible health risks of flame-retardant chemicals in mattresses were documented. Have there been any reported cases of sickness from exposure on a daily basis?

Mark Strobel has been gathering information on this, too, and he says that many people have already reported getting sick from sleeping on new flameproof mattresses. Strobel’s Web site,, states: “We have previously received two other complaints from mattress manufacturer employees that the fireproofing materials are making them sick, plus we received this e-mail [excerpt]… “I work at a Simmons mattress factory. The employees here are having difficulty’s [sic] health wise. Mostly respiratory. About 20 people called OSHA and complained, which only angered our CEO and upper management…”

Any single one of the eight chemicals used to flameproof mattresses could cause respiratory problems. The CPSC proved these chemicals leach to the surface of mattresses and proved we will absorb antimony, boric acid and DBDPO from flameproof mattresses every night for our entire lives. But CPSC says the amount of poisons they predict we will absorb is safe. Many doctors disagree and say these are unsafe. Two states also disagree. Maine and Washington recently banned DBDPO (Deca) because many scientific organizations have found that even very low amounts are harmful to humans. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and New York are currently working on bans.

“We have made toxic mistakes in the past,” Strobel observes. “We have repeatedly banned flame-retardant chemicals including PCB, Tris, Asbestos, PBDE and now DBDPO (Deca) after we find human harm. Now government is literally in our beds requiring we sleep in and absorb toxic chemicals to protect us from a 1-in-1.111 million mattress fire risk.”

Consumers are often warned to read labels carefully, but there are no labeling requirements for the fireproofing chemicals in mattresses. You will never know what you are sleeping in and absorbing every night. Manufacturers are free to use any chemical they choose, and almost all deny using chemicals. Strobel adds, “We have even seen the major brand who admitted using boric acid and other toxic chemicals to The Washington Post, later deny it to customers who got sick.”

How you can protect yourself

Fortunately, there is an escape hatch for consumers. Doctors, including chiropractors, can prescribe toxin-free mattresses and avoid the regulation. The prescription will also save people the sales tax, make the purchase tax deductible, and they can use their health savings account.

With the law already upon us, our only alternative is a bare waterbed or a prescription mattress free of these chemicals. Since chiropractors can also prescribe clean beds under the law, many are now offering them. Some small retailers also offer prescription mattresses. Prescriptions are easy to get and also save people money. Consumers can hope that if enough prescription mattresses are sold, the regulation may eventually be reversed.

from the Oct. 17-23, 2007, issue

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