Archive for the ‘Chemicals in consumer products’ Category

Avoiding GMOs – what are your current options?

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

 

We believe consumers should have a right to know what they are eating and drinking (AND sleeping on!) In a previous post we mentioned our partnership with Just Label It, an organization advocating labeling of foods using Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). At this time, however, companies are not required to disclose GMOs. Nonetheless, consumers that wish to avoid GMOs do have a few tools available.

Buyers can look for:

USDA_LogoThe USDA Organic label. USDA certified organic food currently can not contain GMOs. While this logo can also apply to non-edible raw natural fibers and materials such as cotton, this label is not designed for finished textile products.

 

Non-GMO Project Verified label.nonGMO1 While this voluntary certification guarantees food does not contain GMOs, it does not mean food is organic, so food with this label can still be grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Also, because this verification is voluntary, the absence of the label does not mean an item necessarily contains GMOs. Smaller organic food operations may be unable to afford the certification process.

 

GOTS certified textiles and mattresses do NOT contain GMO cotton

GOTS label. While not for food but for textiles, apparel and mattresses, the GOTS label applies to cotton, one of the top five GMO crops in the world. GOTS does NOT permit the use of GMO cotton. That means all cotton in Naturepedic mattresses (which are independently certified to GOTS) is free of GMOs, and this goes for cotton fabrics as well as cotton filling. Any raw cotton we source is U.S. grown and certified USDA Organic.

 

 

While the above labels help people know whether their food or textiles were made with GMOs, we believe people have the right to know what’s in their food at all times. We invite you to join us and the other partners in Just Label It to ask the FDA to protect your right to know. Sign the online petition for GMO labeling at justlabelit.org/take-action.

 

Study Connects Phthalate Exposure in Moms, Asthma in Children

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

 

A study released by Columbia University has found a connection between mothers exposed during pregnancy to high levels of two commonly used phthalates, BBP and DBP (also referenced as BBzP and DnBP), and asthma in their children. While these two phthalates were banned in children’s products in 2009 by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), they are still used in many, many household products, automobile interiors, and fragrances.

asthma3

Asthma in the U.S. – children at risk

The number of cases of asthma has increased globally, but there is no consensus as to why. Earlier theories suspected increases in improved sanitation (the “hygiene hypothesis”) as a possibility, but although this might explain increases in allergies, it appears to not work in explaining asthma, according to a 2011 article in Scientific American.

Whatever the case, rates of asthma have increased, particularly in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people diagnosed with asthma grew by 4.3 million from 2001 to 2009, with African-American children seeing an almost 50% increase in asthma in that time frame.

A fact sheet provided by The American Lung Association (ALA) reveals that asthma affects 7.1 million children under 18 years in the U.S.. The ALA claims that asthma ranks as the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15, with around 29% of all asthma hospital discharges in 2010 falling in that age bracket (even though only 20% of the U.S. population fell in that demographic). Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.

 The Columbia University Study

The peer-reviewed study, published Sept. 17, 2014 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, was led by Robin Whyatt from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health in New York, part of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.  The study measured metabolites (biomarkers left after the body metabolizes the chemicals) of four phthalates in urine samples collected from 300 pregnant women in New York City, and then measured these metabolites in their children after they were born. The study builds on previous research of the same set of parent/child as part of a long term study.

mailmanStudy results suggest a “significant” association between concentrations of prenatal metabolites of the phthalates BBP and DBP and later childhood asthma, but did not find a correlation between exposure to the phthalates DEHP and DEP and asthma.

The percentages found in the study were high. Almost one third of the children, 94 of them to be exact, ages 5-11, developed physician-diagnosed asthma. An additional 60 children had a history of wheeze and other asthma-like symptoms without the asthma diagnosis.

The findings are significant and warrant additional study. At this point, researchers are unclear on the mechanisms for how the phthalates might increase the risk for asthma, although other studies suggest that inflammation and oxidative stress* may play a role.

In the U.S. in 2007, asthma cost about $56 billion in medical costs, lost work and school days, and early deaths.

 

*For a summary description of oxidative stress, check out Dr. Andrew Weil’s explanation on his website.

The Irony of Flame Retardants in Water: How These Chemicals Are Moving From Our Couches to Our Rivers

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Naturepedic mattresses don’t contain chemical flame retardants, compounds with suspected connections to human health and developmental problems. Jillian Pritchard Cooke, an interior designer specializing in healthier designs and founder of Wellness Within Your Walls, has connected flame retardants to poor indoor air quality. But what about outdoor water quality?

Scientists have been finding chemical flame retardants, particularly PBDEs, in rivers and waterways throughout the world. The question has been why? A recently released peer-review study published Sept. 17, 2014 by the journal Environmental Science & Technology offers some answers.

Washington Toxics Coalition report – How Toxic Flame Retardants Pollute Our Waterways

The report was co-authored by Erika Schreder, science director with the Washington Toxics Coalition, and Mark J. La Guardia, senior environmental research scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The study examined 20 homes in the Vancouver and Longview areas of Washington state, testing for 22 chemical flame retardants in common household dust. The study found 21 chemical flame retardants in the dust in varying amounts, with 72% of total flame retardant mass made up of chlorinated organophosphate flame retardants, also known as tris. Tris is commonly found in polyurethane foam (used in mattresses, sofas, and other furniture cushioning) and is suspected of being an endocrine disruptor.

Of those 21 flame retardants, the study found that 18 could be detected in laundry wastewater. In other words, the dust appeared to be adhering to clothing and other fabrics there were then washed, with the chemicals then heading to wastewater treatment plants.

By comparing flame retardant levels in wastewater treatment plant influents to estimates based on laundry wastewater levels, the study found that laundry wastewater is likely the primary source of flame retardant chemicals in waterways.

Dust particles are small, so what volume levels of flame retardants are involved? Mass loadings to the Columbia River from each individual treatment plant showed up to approximately 251 pounds per year for the flame retardant chemical TCPP alone. The study found that a single treatment plant along the Columbia River released a combination of three tris flame retardants at an estimated 384 pounds a year, which the Washington Toxics Coalition estimates to be the equivalent of the flame retardant used to treat 1,088 couches.

With more than 300 wastewater treatment plants in Washington, that adds up (multiple 300 by 384 and you get 115,200 pounds per year as a rough estimate). Research suggests a connection with chlorinated organophosphates and endocrine disruption in fish, but the available research is extremely limited.

The bottom line is that chemical flame retardants commonly found in mattresses and other home furnishings as well as consumer electronics potentially impact more than just people. Studies of the potentially harmful health and developmental effects of these substances must also examine what they mean for the fish and wildlife in and along our rivers and lakes.

New Government Report on Phthalates Sends Mixed Messages

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Phthalates are chemical plasticizers used to make plastics like vinyl pliable or soft, and they are in almost everyone’s blood.  These chemicals are used in all types of products including children’s items like plastic teething rings, vinyl mattress covers and even baby lotions. This is a serious problem considering phthalates and phthalate substitutes are suspected of being connected to hormonal disruptions, asthma and even obesity. 

In mid-July, a panel overseen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a final report on phthalates and phthalate substitutes. The CPSC is a relatively small federal agency tasked with overseeing that products are safe. (For example, they issued the regulations for crib design, including the banning of drop sides.)

The “Report on Phthalates and Phthalate Alternatives” does not call for a ban on all phthalates in children’s products.  Instead, it recommends which phthalates should be allowable and which are not.

Phthalates Are Born Drifters

One aspect of concern regarding phthalates is that they don’t stay put. Because phthalates don’t chemically bind to plastics, they leach out over time. Have you ever felt a once soft vinyl cover that has become cracked and crunchy? That’s because the phthalates have left the plastic and entered the environment.

Phthalates are scary drifters. (Photo from iStock from a painting by artist Yaroslav Gerzhedovich)

Phthalates are scary drifters.
(Photo from iStock from a painting by artist Yaroslav Gerzhedovich)

Phthalates and phthalate substitutes can get into children in multiple ways. They can be transferred from the mother to unborn babies. Babies can also take in phthalates through skin absorption, primarily from products like lotions.  Children can also inhale phthalates.  Since so many of the plastics used for baby products contain phthalates, most children are being exposed to phthalates on a daily basis.

What the New Report Recommends ( … or Get Ready for LOTS of Abbreviations!)

The new report recommends continuing a previous ban in toys and child care articles on three select phthalates you may have heard about: DEHP, DBP and BBP.  The report, however, recommends allowing two phthalates that were previously banned on an interim basis: DNOP and DIDP.

PHTA The report recommends against a third phthalate called DINP which was also previously banned on an interim basis. DINP, by the way, was added in 2013 to California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer (even though the chemical industry claimed there was inadequate proof.)

The report also suggests banning four new phthalates in children’s products. The report itself is almost a whopping 600 pages and examines many, many different chemicals.

What Does It All Mean?

It’s important to remember that this is only a set of recommendations and not law. The CPSC will decide whether to accept or reject all or some of the recommendations. A decision could be reached by January 2015.

Naturepedic simply does not use phthalates or phthalate substitutes in mattresses.  While GREENGUARD tests only for a select list of phthalates, our philosophy is to avoid those chemicals altogether, meaning we hold ourselves to an even higher standard than GREENGUARD does. No vinyl, no phthalates.  This simplifies things, and we don’t need a 600 page document to explain it.

Got some time on your hands? You can read the full report here.

 

Naturepedic Founder and Other Organic Visionaries to be Honored

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

The organics movement is growing and the Organic Trade Association (OTA) supports organic businesses and the leaders that make them thrive. The OTA is holding its 2014 Organic content_img.23.imgLeadership Awards on September 17 to recognize three individuals making significant impacts on the organic industry.  We are proud to announce Naturepedic founder Barry Cik has been selected as one of those visionaries in the organic movement.

American_Visionary_Arts_Museum,_Baltimore_(ca._2005)

Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum
Photo CC license Wikipedia

The awards will take place at The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, a colorful venue perfect for recognizing the vibrancy of the organic movement. Naturepedic’s Barry Cik will be awarded the Rising Star Award for his work in growing a small Ohio-based company into a national organic presence.

The OTA will also award the Growing the Organic Industry Award to Marty Mesh, Executive Director of Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers Inc. (FOG). Marty is a hands-on veteran in organic agriculture with more than 40 years of experience. Not only instrumental in forming FOG, Marty has been involved in many areas of organic business including policy, advocacy, training, certification, and more.

The Organic Farmer of the Year Award will go to Doug Crabtree, a farmer and organic farm trainer. Doug owns organic farm Vilicus Farms in Montana (although he grew up on a farm in Ohio, the state where Naturepedic is based). Along with his wife Anna, Doug runs an apprenticeship program. By sharing his extensive knowledge of organic farming methods, Doug is inspiring more farmers to grow organically and is helping them develop the skills needed for success.

Join us in giving a big organic cheer for this year’s Organic Leadership winners! Together, they are promoting individual personal health and the overall health of our planet. As a bit of appropriate trivia: Villicus in Latin means “steward.” Thanks Doug, Marty and Barry for all being good stewards of the earth.

 

Naturepedic Organic Mattress and Barry Cik

Naturepedic’s Barry Cik in front of a Naturepedic organic mattress

Demand for Safer Chemicals Gets Broader Acceptance

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Debate continues to rage regarding reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Many industry watchers are guessing that any reform of the national law is becoming less and less likely to happen before the close of 2014.

Legislative reform or not, the topic of safer chemicals in consumer products is capturing public attention, and businesses are noticing. High profile initiatives by retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods underscore the burgeoning realization that safer products makes good business sense.

Of course any reform or initiative is only as good as the details within the effort. Simply participating in a “safer chemical” program does not a safer product make. Nonetheless, these initiatives show that concerns have moved out of the insular world of environmentalism and into the broader consumer base. TSCA after all was passed back in 1976, and only ten years ago its existence was largely known only by environmentalists and legislators. Now in 2014 the law now is being discussed by parent, consumer and health organizations and the individuals that make up those groups. Awareness has grown.

In earlier posts we’ve mentioned the American Sustainable Business Council and its Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition. Here are some of the many other efforts looking to curb toxic chemicals in products.

0 ZCHC logoRoadmap to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) This voluntary initiative for apparel manufacturers and retailers began in 2011, with the goal of moving the industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.

 

Healthier Hosptials Initiative logo Twelve large health systems joined with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design, and Practice Greenhealth to create the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI). HHI is designed as a guide for hospitals to reduce energy and waste, choose safer and less toxic products, and purchase and serve healthier foods.

 

BizNGO logoA collaborative of businesses and environmental groups working toward safer chemicals. BizNGO.org has pioneered the GreenScreen method for companies to better assess chemical choices.

 

Safer States logoSafer States, part of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, provides discusses efforts  by state, both public and private, working to reduce questionable chemicals. This site offers a variety of information and provides a bill tracker to show the progress of proposed legislation for safer chemicals by state. Additionally, the site provides a good snapshot of efforts occurring nationally.

The above initiatives indicate that the topic of safer chemicals is likely not going away. Further, the ease of sharing information provided by the Internet is bringing the topic mainstream and into the business world, where it needs to be.

After all, safer products benefit everyone, not just environmentalists.

Regrettable Substitutions

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

 

Questionable chemicals associated with health and developmental issues such as cancer, thyroid disruption and learning disabilities can show up in the most innocuous of consumer products. These chemicals sometimes, although infrequently, garner enough bad press to get them removed, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Unfortunately, removal may not be what it seems.

beakersWhy? Because an offending chemical can be removed simply to be replaced with a similar, possibly worse chemical. Called “regrettable substitution” by the Environmental Defense Fund and other organizations, this strategy may temporarily solve a company’s marketing or PR problem but does little to get an actual safer product to the consumer. And there are virtually no regulations to prevent this.

BPA

Take for example Bisphenol-A, or BPA. Following an outcry from the private and academic sectors on BPA’s links to hormonal disruption and connections to cancer and diabetes, the FDA banned it from baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012 (although according to the FDA it was not banned for health reasons but due to industry abandonment). Even before the ban, companies had begun making “BPA-Free” products and parents breathed a sigh of relieve.

The problem, however, is that BPA was commonly replaced with an equally questionable chemical.  Current regulations require no safety testing or even disclosure.  BPA-free does not necessarily equal safe.

Phthalates

Similar responses occurred with the phthalate DEHP (phthalates are plasticizers used to make vinyl plastics softer and more pliable). Following associations with disruption of male reproductive development, products, particularly those marketed to the healthcare industry, began being advertised as “free of DEHP.” While technically truthful, DEHP can be replaced with other phthalates, possibly trading one problem for another.

Curious about what phthalates can be used? Congress banned three types of phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP) in any amount greater than 0.1 percent in some children’s toys and select child care articles. Additionally, Congress banned on an interim basis the phthalates DINP, DIDP, DnOP in any amount greater than 0.1 percent, but only for articles that can be placed in a child’s mouth or sucked.

In other words, out of more than a dozen currently used phthalates and phthalate substitutes, six have been banned in very specific product uses for children. For a children’s item that can’t be placed in a baby’s mouth, unless the consumer has access to a chemical testing lab, there is no way to know if phthalates are being used or which ones or whether they are safe.

Lack of Regulation

Lack of regulation and transparency not only puts the consumer at risk, but also makes life difficult for companies legitimately looking to offer safer products. For us at Naturepedic, the answer was to avoid the questionable chemicals altogether.  Rather than attempt to find a safer phthalate (or flame retardant or many other chemicals) we simply don’t use them, period.

While consumers should continue to do their homework regarding product safety, they should also insist on stronger safeguards against harmful chemicals. Discussions have begun on potential reform to the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, but real progress has yet to be made.

For more information on the risks of BPA-free products, read Environmental Defense Fund’s Sarah Vogel’s article “BPA-Free” plastics may pose equal or greater hazard than predecessors. For tips on avoiding BPA and phthalates, read the tip sheet from the Silent Spring Institute.

New Study Looks at Chemicals Linked to Breast Cancer; Flame Retardants, Chemicals in Consumer Products Make Priority List

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

 

On May 12, 2014 the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a new peer-reviewed study identifying seventeen types of chemicals specifically linked to breast cancer. Of the 102 chemicals in the study, many are ones women may be exposed to on a daily basis from everyday products.

Silent Spring Institute logo

Silent Spring Institute logo

The study was conducted by researchers at the Silent Spring Institute (named after Rachel Carson’s influential book) and the Harvard School of Public Health. While it may not come as a surprise that a number of the chemical types can be found in tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust, some of the priority chemicals are found in common consumer products like ink jet and laser jet printers, hair dyes and paint. These are all chemicals legally used and virtually unregulated.

The study also identified flame retardants used in foams found in mattresses and furniture cushions and chemicals found in certain textile dyes as priority threats. Under current laws, manufacturers are not required to disclose the flame retardant chemicals or chemical dyes used in their products.

At Naturepedic we are proud that all of our mattresses for all ages, baby, youth and adult, meet flammability standards without the need for chemical flame retardants or barriers. Because our mattresses meet strict organic guidelines such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), you are guaranteed they do not contain toxic chemical dyes, either.

Our mattresses let us make a positive difference in people’s lives in our area of specialty: mattresses. To learn other ways you can avoid common carcinogenic chemicals, check out easy tips from the Silent Spring Institute published on the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families website.

State of Vermont Passes Stricter State Law Concerning Chemicals in Children’s Products

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Vermont state flagWhile national efforts to reform the outdated federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) continue, the state of Vermont has pushed forward on its own to create more stringent chemical safety standards than currently afforded.

On Friday, May 9, 2014, Vermont bill S.239 passed the Vermont Senate with a vote of 26 to 3, making the bill law and sending it to the Governor’s desk. The new state law gives power to the Vermont health department to require manufacturers to label or outright ban chemicals from children’s products sold in Vermont that the health department deems harmful.

Currently, the definition of “children’s products” is still being debated. For example, debate is underway if products that children commonly come in contact with, such as carpeting, should be included in the definition.

The Vermont legislature follows The Children’s Safe Products Act  enacted in the state of Washington as well as state laws in California and Maine. As part of the Washington state law, the state has established a Reporting List of Chemicals of High Concern to Children (CHCC) independent of federal law.

Currently, one point of contention in efforts to reform the national Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the rights of states to enact stricter laws than the national level, with some national legislators arguing that a national chemicals law must preempt state rulings.

 

Naturepedic Founder Barry Cik Discusses Chemicals in Crib Mattresses and University of Texas Study

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

A recent study published February of this year by a team of environmental engineers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has found that infants are exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from crib mattresses.

Below, Naturepedic founder Barry A. Cik explores aspects related to this report to provide a greater understanding of the overall topic of chemicals in crib mattresses.

 

Friends and Colleagues,

I’ve been asked by several people to comment on the University of Texas study regarding chemicals in crib mattresses.  In particular, people want to understand the practical implications of chemicals in crib mattresses.  I’ll use a Q & A format.

 Are Chemicals Really a Problem?

The chemical problem is quite well established.  For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics says the following:

“Over the past several decades, tens of thousands of chemicals have entered commerce and the environment, often in extremely large quantities…A growing body of research indicates potential harm to child health from a range of chemical substances…there is widespread human exposure to many of these substances…These chemicals are found throughout the tissues and body fluids of children and adults alike…”   [Policy Statement – Chemical Management Policy: Prioritizing Children’s Health; American Academy of  Pediatrics, April 25, 2011; http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/04/25/peds.2011-0523 ]

Naturepedic Founder Barry Cik talks chemical safety at grand opening of company's Beverly Hills organic mattress gallery

Naturepedic Founder Barry A. Cik talks chemicals during the grand opening of the company’s California organic mattress gallery

There are approximately 84,000 chemicals in the marketplace.  Most have been created since World War II, and never existed on planet Earth before.  An additional 1,000 new chemicals are created every year.  Most (actually, virtual all) chemicals have never been tested for toxicity or health concerns.  The EPA has the authority to take action for many other concerns, but, for chemicals, the EPA has virtually no authority.  Of the 84,000 chemicals in the marketplace, the EPA has so far banned five (5).

What Are the Primary Types of Chemicals of Concern in Crib Mattresses?

Flame Retardant Chemicals -  These primarily include Phosphate, Brominated, and sometimes Chlorinated or Antimony Flame Retardants.  When a chemical gets undue attention, and certainly if it gets banned, manufacturers tend to turn to other flame retardant chemicals.  But these substitutions are frequently known as “regrettable substitutions” because the new versions generally prove to be no better than the previous versions.  Various flame retardant chemicals have been associated with toxicity, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, developmental issues, endocrine disruption, and reproductive issues, etc.

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) – PFCs are used as water-repellants and stain-repellants, and are frequently used to make the surface fabric of a crib mattress water-repellant.  In addition to being carcinogenic, one fairly recent study associated perfluorinated compounds with Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities [Philip J. Landrigan, Children’s Environmental Health Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York & Luca Lambertini, National Institutes of Health; published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 120, Number 7, July 2012.]

Phthalates – Phthalates are used to soften vinyl, and are linked to cancer and developmental issues.  Six phthalate chemicals were banned by Congress several years ago (as part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008) and a seventh has been added to California Prop 65.  Meanwhile, there are at least an additional seven or eight new phthalate versions now on the market, as well as other phthalate substitutes, which are technically legal (i.e. not banned) and are being used.  No one knows the effects of these substitute chemicals, and whether they will ultimately be shown to have better or worse or substantially the same health concerns.

Where Are Flame Retardants Found?

They can be found in the surface fabric of a crib mattress, and/or in a flame barrier directly beneath the surface fabric, and/or in the foam inside the mattress.  Most synthetic fabrics on the market are flame-resistant because flame-retardant chemicals have been added into the fibers when the synthetic fibers were made.  In the case of natural fabrics, being that the fibers themselves are natural and not synthetically created, the flame-retardant chemicals are generally added at any of several later stages of the fabric processing.

What About Using “Inherently” Flame Resistant Fabrics?

The industry sometimes uses the word “inherently” loosely.  When a mattress manufacturer buys a fabric to be used on the mattress, the mattress manufacturer generally would not even know the exact chemical formulation of the fabric (which may have been made by a third party, and perhaps in China), and would not know what flame retardant chemicals have been added into the fibers.  If the fabric that is used on the mattress passes the flammability test, then the mattress manufacturer will frequently simply call it an “inherently” flame-retardant fabric.  However, the only truly “inherently” flame-resistant fabrics in the marketplace are fabrics that are made with fiberglass.

What About “Soybean Foam”?

Soybean Foam, Soy Foam, Eco Foam, Harvest Foam ™, Plant Derived Foam, etc. are all marketing terms.  They are all Polyurethane Foam, except that some soybean or castor oil has been used to replace some of the polyols in the mix.  The Law Label regulations require that these materials not be identified by their marketing terms.  Rather, they must be identified by their correct technical term – which is Polyurethane Foam.

What About GREENGUARD and Other Certification Programs?

GREENGUARD is an excellent emissions certification program (and was introduced to the mattress community by Naturepedic).  However, even GREENGUARD has its limits.  For example, GREENGUARD only tests for the legally banned phthalates, but doesn’t test for all the replacements in the marketplace that are being used.  There are other certification programs available as well.  In each case, it is helpful to understand what is and is not being tested or evaluated.

Of all the certification options available in the marketplace, the certified organic program offered by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the most thorough.  It requires the use of certified organic fabrics and fill, and provides a high degree of chemical safety vetting for all other non-organic components that are required in a mattress.

How Do We Stop the Use of Inappropriate Chemicals?

Manufacturers and consumers can take several steps right now.  Chemicals of concern used in the manufacturing of a mattress can be replaced with less hazardous alternatives.  This reduces the risk up-front.  Then, exposure can frequently be limited in the product design and/or by separating the baby from the consumer item.  In the case of a crib mattress, this might include the use of an organic pad over the mattress.  Then, of course, manufacturers should be required to disclose and be transparent regarding what is being offered to the consumer.

Ultimately, the American Academy of Pediatrics says it best:  “Manufacturers of chemicals are not required to test chemicals before they are marketed…Concerns about chemicals are permitted to be kept from the public…those who propose to market a chemical must be mandated to provide evidence that the product has been tested…relevant to the special needs of pregnant women and children…”   [ibid]

-  Barry A. Cik