Posts Tagged ‘Sebastian’

Flame Retardants, Polyurethane Foam and Flashover

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

The Risks

There’s a lot of discussion over health concerns associated with chemical flame retardants, particularly those found in mattresses and furniture. One of the most common classes of flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which was widely used for decades before the environmental community focused attention on it, and pressured manufacturers to stop, has been linked to an unsettling smorgasbord of issues including thyroid disruption, developmental issues in children, memory and cognitive problems, lower IQ and reduced fertility.

Studies of other flame retardants are seeing links to cancer. Groups representing firefighters in various states are raising concerns about the toxicity of flame retardants, arguing they increase the risks for cancer in first responders while doing little to retard fires.

So with these types of risks, why in the world are chemical flame retardants so prevalent?

The question lies less with the flame retardants themselves and more with the polyurethane foam in the furniture and mattresses.

Then vs. Now

Travel in time to a living room in 1940s America. The cushioning materials in the furniture include natural materials ranging from cotton, excelsior (wood shavings), down and horse hair.

Image from a magazine ad from 1955 - things were a little bit different

Image from a magazine ad from 1955 – things were a little bit different

Now today. Couches, chairs, crib mattresses, changing pads, and adult mattresses (including memory foam ones), are often filled with polyurethane foam, an intensely flammable material.

Flame retardants are used in an attempt to offset the stored energy in polyurethane foam, although their effectiveness is questionable, as you’ll see

Flashover

A “flashover” is the point in a house fire when an entire room self-ignites as a result of the heat caused by a fire.

Watch the eye-opening video above made by the National Institute of Standards and Testing. A room furnished with the typical synthetic fabrics and polyurethane foam cushioning of today reaches flashover in an astonishing three minutes and forty seconds!  Comparatively, a room furnished with items as would be found in a 1950s or so house takes almost a half hour.

The vintage materials burn, but without the rapid heat release of the polyurethane foam, which has been called “solid gasoline” by the National Association of State Fire Marshals. In fact, burning untreated polyurethane foam can reach temperatures of 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit in only minutes! That incredible heat release leads to an incredibly rapid flashover.

While other materials in the room contributed, the immense impact of polyurethane foam can’t be overstated.

Where There Is Smoke

You probably also notice the billowing black smoke from the fire. As mentioned earlier, firefighters have become increasingly concerned about the inhalation of carcinogenic flame retardants found in the smoke and increased cancer rates in firefighters.

Beyond the risk of flame retardants, though, is the risk of the deadly and debilitating hydrogen cyanide gas released from burning polyurethane foam. Inhaled hydrogen cyanide quickly leads to confusion, unconsciousness and death. Hydrogen cyanide is the gas used in the 1995 Tokyo subway attack and was implicated in the deadly concert fire in Rhode Island in 2003.

Highly Flammable Materials Require Flame Retardant Chemicals

When looking at the materials in your next mattress for you or your children, consider not only the materials in the mattress, but the flame retardant chemicals those materials demand. When buying a mattress, remember the 3 minute 40 second marker on the video.

Naturepedic Mattresses Contain No Flame Retardant Chemicals

Naturepedic organic mattresses do not require flame retardant chemicals to pass government flammability standards. We begin by using less flammable materials in the first place. Simply put: polyurethane foam requires chemical flame retardants, and we never use polyurethane foam.

 

 

A hidden guest bed with your Symphony organic mattress? Could be!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Call this a Symphony in Comfort

Call this a Symphony in Comfort

Psst. I’ve got some inside information for you. Naturepedic’s newly redesigned and sublimely comfortable Symphony organic pillowtop mattress offers a hidden “guest bed.”  We don’t market this as a feature, so this will be our little secret.

If you have a Symphony, I doubt you’ll be offering it to guests, not even to a favorite sister. With a base of two layers of support coils, each coil individually wrapped in certified organic cotton fabric and hand assembled, how can you be expected to go without that glorious support and isolation of movement? I’m not judging. I didn’t even mention the 1 inch of certified organic natural latex foam built into the base. Listen. I understand. The Symphony takes comfort to a remarkable level.

This base alone is already incredibly comfortable as a cushion firm mattress.

Of course on top of this base you have a two-sided pillowtop made with 3 inches of organic latex. One side of the pillowtop is deeply quilted for an uber-plush, luxurious feel. Flip the pillowtop over and you find a lower-fill quilt design that creates a firmer sensation while still delivering a plush level of support. Three sleep sensations, depending on your preference, or even mood.

So here is the secret.  If you’re in a pinch and need one more additional sleep surface, you can pull that lush pillowtop onto the floor for a comfy, cushy pad. You still get an incredible sleep sensation, and your guest(s) gets a cloud-like sleep surface better than any cot or couch could ever offer.

An "inside" peek at the Symphony

An “inside” peek at the Symphony

You’ll sleep satisfied. Instead of giving the shirt off your back, you’ll have given the top off your mattress, and that’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it?

Yes. It really is.

 

Earth Day Musings from Naturepedic

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

We’re about organic mattresses at Naturepedic so we love Earth Day as much as National Sleep Day (Jan. 3), World Sleep Day (March 14) and even National Sleep Week in March! A combination of better earth choices and sleep is our thing.

sprouts

Wake up the kid in you — it’s Earth Day!

Speaking for myself, I love the centering aspect of Earth Day; it reminds me to reexamine how my choices and actions affect the planet.

Instead of focusing on the gloom and doom of pollution and environmental degradation, I use Earth Day to recharge my energy toward positive action where I can make a difference.

Additionally, I use Earth Day to remember how cool our Earth is. If you’ve temporarily forgotten, go look at a spider web up close or at the sprouting plants all around to recapture some of that childlike wonder about planet Earth.

Competition for Planet Earth

green-city-feature

(c) City of Vancouver website

Five years ago, Vancouver (in Canada, not the state of Washington) kicked off its Greenest City Action Plan, a goal to become the greenest city in North America. They might be on to something.

Consider: a city collectively working for the bragging rights of being the greenest city. Instead of pouring money and energy into defeating and circumventing earth-friendly action, could cities, governments and companies use a spirit of competition to drive toward a healthier environment?

Top Cities for Earth Day Celebrations

According to a ranking by website SaveOnEnergy.com, Austin, Texas takes the top spot for Earth Day Celebrations in 2014 with their Austin Earth Day Festival. If you’re heading out to Austin, check out Naturepedic mattresses at The Clean Bedroom or Austin Natural Mattresses.

Earth Day Selfie

NASA is promoting aGlobalSelfie_shareable_FINAL Where Are You on Earth Right Now? #GlobalSelfie campaign. People tweet pics of where they are on the planet on Earth Day, April 22 using the hashtags #GlobalSelfie, #NASA #EarthDay. The campaign is part of their Earth Right Now campaign. Visit the NASA website to learn about the campaign and download Global Selfie signs.

 Happy, Healthy Earth Day from Your Friends at Naturepedic!

 

And remember: Sleep on a Naturepedic Organic Mattress and you’ll get to celebrate Earth Night, too!

 

Naturepedic’s EOS Customizable Organic Sleep System: Fitting Your Lifestyle AND Up the Stairs

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Naturepedic’s latest certified organic sleep concept the EOS offers many benefits, including customization and ease of ordering.

Eos even goes up castle stairs! (CC Photo, Harlech Danger, used courtesy of Dave Younce on Flickr)

Eos even goes up castle stairs!
(CC Photo, Harlech Danger, used courtesy of Dave Younce on Flickr)

One benefit that might get overlooked, however, is getting your mattress into your room. In some homes that can be a major challenge!

If you live in a five-story walk-up with no elevator, a century home with narrow door frames, or any furniture-moving nightmare of a building but still want to sleep on a  luxurious organic mattress, than EOS has just become your solution.

EOS is designed for convenience.  You can order your EOS online even if no physical store is nearby and mattress components ship to your door by ground.

Now back to that narrow staircase. When your EOS arrives, each layer is boxed separately, meaning manageable weight for even one person.  The support (bottom) layer of any queen sized or larger EOS comes in two side by side sections instead of a single larger component.

It gets easier.

Coiled components are cleverly rolled and packaged so you have a manageable sized box. And don’t worry – when you set up your EOS, coils gently unroll rather than snapping out like a joke snakes in a peanut can. All of this puts you in control.

Should you order a support layer of organic latex, the latex is not only split side by side, but each eight inches of lush organic latex will also be split into two four inch layers for a total of four easy-to-move components.

For the top comfort layer, you select either comfort coils or organic latex and in your desired firmness. A queen size or larger comfort layer can be a single component, but you have the option of ordering it as two side by side components. By ordering the comfort layer in two sections, moving it is not only easier, but you can also order a different firmness for each side of the bed, such as a firm comfort coil for him and a plush comfort coil for her.

Eos - luxurious organics that scoff at narrow hallways!

Eos – luxurious organics that scoff at narrow hallways!

By designing the EOS with your lifestyle in mind, Naturepedic gives you the healthy, organic sleep you want, even if that sleep happens in a stylish bedroom atop a spiral staircase.

 

Flame Retardant Soup

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Do you like soup?

I do. You can put all kinds of vegetable and spices into soup.

When I make soup my kids ask, “What’s in it?” to find out if I’ve added a veggie they’ve identified as one they don’t want.  My youngest has dug in his heels against broccoli and the older one against mushrooms.

They ask because they can’t tell if the offending food is in there.  Do I always tell? No. I sometimes sneak those veggies past them.

Synthetic mattress fabrics can be a toxic soup

Synthetic fabrics can sometimes be a toxic soup

Not too many parents will fault me for my sneakiness. If, however, I was intentionally sneaking really, really unhealthy, even dangerous, ingredients in that soup, opinions would be different.

Synthetic fibers are in one way a lot like soup. A manufacturer can put all types of different ingredients in there and the consumer is probably not going to know.

Take polyester. There are different formulations for polyester just like there are different ways to make vegetable soup. When polyester is being mixed, the manufacturer can add chemicals to change the texture or chemicals to change the sheen.

They can even add flame retardant chemicals implicated as potential causes of cancer / other health problems or learning disabilities.  Flame retardants like chlorinated tris, banned from children’s pajamas in the 1970s due to concerns about genetic mutations but still in many products today.

Even if an added chemical would be restricted (out of more than 80,000 chemicals, the EPA has only restricted six in the past 35 years, and of those a ban on asbestos was overturned!), manufacturers can tweak the formula to form a new, although not necessarily safer, chemical, and again, in it can go. The vast majority of chemicals used in fabrics are untested regarding health.

I’m not picking on polyester. Any synthetic fabric mixed in batches can have undesirable chemicals in the mix.  These chemicals for the most part do not need to be disclosed to a consumer and are virtually unregulated. In fact, if a flame retardant chemical was added to a synthetic fiber as it was being manufactured, a furniture or mattress maker using that fabric can claim NO FLAME RETARDANTS ADDED.  I’m not kidding.

While California is pushing forward with stronger chemical regulations, even if select chemicals do get banned, it will be years before they realistically are out of products, and, as mentioned earlier, other types of similar chemicals not banned could then be legally used.

The bottom line is how much do you want to risk? Because chemicals in fabrics are undisclosed, a consumer has little choice to pick and choose what chemicals are okay and what are not.

At least in mattresses there is a way of avoiding them altogether. A natural fabric like cotton is not a synthetic mix but grown, so it cannot have chemicals added during a manufacturing process. By selecting certified organic mattresses like we sell you can avoid unwanted chemicals being topically added to a fabric. (Unfortunately, non-certified organic products can still sometimes have those chemicals added.)

When Naturepedic formed eleven years ago, we began making organic mattresses not simply to be organic, but because organic was one of the best, most effective vehicles to get to healthier products. By using certified organic materials, we were able let the consumer know what is in their product, without guesswork or games.

Unless you can truly know the chemicals used in synthetic fabrics, the most effective way to avoid them is to select certified organic products.

Otherwise, you just don’t know what chemicals are being added to the “soup.”

 

Naturepedic at 2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference

Friday, April 4th, 2014

2014-logo

Naturepedic Founder Barry Cik was a panelist speaker at the 2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference, held in Cleveland, Ohio April 1-3. This year’s focus was “Innovating for Success in Green Chemistry”.

Active in organizations at both the national and local levels, Cik has long been a champion of finding safer, healthier alternatives for companies to make products and conduct business.

Barry_GLGCC

Naturepedic founder Barry Cik takes the podium at the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference in Cleveland, Ohio

The conference explored how innovations in green chemistry can accelerate change in the Great Lakes Region (where Naturepedic is based), not just in business, but also in policy and public health and safety. The conference looked at ways to promote collaboration between business, academia, and legislators.

Naturepedic was previously recognized by an award from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) as a charter member for its 2025 Safer Chemistry Challenge Program.

The Challenge Program, began by NPPR in collaboration with the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference and Clean Production Action, recognizes company operations that reduce the use of hazardous and toxic chemicals by finding and selecting alternative, safer materials and chemistries.

 

When Does “No Flame Retardants” NOT Actually Mean “No Flame Retardants”?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

 

Many commonly used flame retardant chemicals are being connected to health and developmental issues.  Want a mattress without flame retardant chemicals?  Get a certified organic mattress.  Otherwise, flame retardants will probably be in that mattress, even if greenwashing marketing suggests otherwise, and you’re going to need to guess what they are.

It's not easy to find out what flame retardants are in your mattress

It’s not easy to find out what flame retardants are in your mattress

Let me explain with a little compare and contrast.

We say “Naturepedic mattresses meet all government flammability standards without flame barriers and other flame retardant chemicals.”

So why don’t we shorten that to “No flame retardants added” and call it a day?  That would mean the same thing, right?

Wrong.

Sure, when WE talk about not using flame retardants, we actually mean what we say.  We mean these chemicals are not in our mattress. Anywhere.

This straight-forward approach is not the case with most mattresses, however.  The loophole occurs with synthetic fabrics.

Now if a mattress maker would take a finished mattress and spray it with flame retardants, the mattress would have a flame retardant “added”.

If the mattress, however, includes synthetic fabrics originally manufactured with flame retardant chemicals, this is different.  Why?  Because the flame retardant chemicals are considered an integral or constituent part of the fabric.  These fabrics can be on the outside of the mattress or in flame barriers on the inside.  Regardless, the mattress maker can state, “No flame retardant chemicals added.”

But, you say, those chemicals are IN the mattress!

Yes, but the chemicals were integral to the flame barriers or fabric from the beginning. The greenwashing trick lies in the word added.  The chemicals weren’t added to the mattress!

Even worse?  These chemicals inserted into the fabric will likely not be disclosed to the consumer, so if you want to know the flame retardant used, you’ll probably need to guess.Flame retardants

Understand, this deceptive practice is not illegal.  I would argue immoral, but not illegal.

Who needs it?

But, you ask, why do manufacturers add (regardless of how it’s “added”) flame retardants into mattresses to begin with?  Who needs it?  Well, here is the bottom line – if you didn’t fill the mattress with highly flammable materials, then, in fact, you don’t need flame retardant chemicals!

But most mattresses are filled – to one degree or another – with polyurethane foam, which is a highly flammable material.  Some manufacturers add some soybean oil or castor oil and call the fill “soybean foam” or “eco-foam” or similar, but it’s still basically polyurethane foam.  And, when ignited, it can reach temperatures of 1400 degrees within minutes.

The only practical way to avoid flame retardant chemicals is to use certified organic products to ensure these chemicals have not been worked into fabrics and barriers.  Organic certification requires a level of disclosure that just doesn’t currently exist for fabrics.

Otherwise, you’re left guessing what flame retardants are in your mattress, and your health shouldn’t be left to guesswork.

 

 

Organic Mattresses – No, you can’t eat them

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

We make organic mattresses.

No, you can’t eat them.

Yes, I’m asked that.

I’m not insulted by the “can you eat them” question. The concept of non-food organics has largely not entered the public consciousness yet, but it will. Remember not too long ago organic food wasn’t even being considered by many.

As a kid, I didn’t know organic vegetables existed. Organic was as foreign to little me as fois gras or bidets (it squirts where??!!)

Is this an organic vegetable washer? What's organic?

Is this an organic vegetable washer? What’s organic?

Even after encountering the concept as a pre-teen (about organic produce, not bidets), organic food was confined to specialty stores populated by specialty people.

I never thought about the vegetables from my family’s garden as organic. Those were just vegetables.

Organic as a concept

Now in 2014, organic food has not only moved into the mainstream as a healthy eating option but as a familiar concept.

People now discuss the health benefits of organic food, and these considerations affect buying choices. Before these choices could happen, though, they first had to realize there were different options.

Now they are beginning to realize they have similar options with mattresses.

While all of us spend about a third of our lives in beds sleeping, the materials closest to our faces for most of the night (or day if a night shifter) have been ignored. Why? I don’t know.  Mattresses were “just there.” In the past someone would consider how a mattress felt but not even think about the materials inside or how they might affect health.

mom and baby grocery storeThankfully, an ever expanding circle of people are learning they can get a luxurious mattress without simply accepted materials as a given.

The truth is a lot of mattresses have questionable chemicals and synthetics: PFCs, flame retardant chemicals, pesticides and more. There is a choice to purchase mattresses with or without them.

They exist

Our belief at Naturepedic, supported by our involvement in scientific and environmental groups, panels and discussions, is it’s healthier to sleep on organic materials and avoid many of the synthetics and chemicals that have become industry standards.

This is our business, designed not as a marketing gimmick but built from our core philosophy outward. We believe fewer chemicals means healthier sleep.

Organic mattresses exist, and they are great.

 

You still can’t eat them, though.

Wait, what? Soybean foam isn’t made of soybeans?!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

 

soybeansI’ll keep this short: soybean foam is primarily made from petrochemicals, not soybeans.  

You might have also have heard of soybean foam as bio-foam, soy foam, and other names combining soy-, bio-, or eco-.

No forest green lettering, or image of pastoral fields on marketing materials, can change the truth: soy foam might contain 20% soy content but can contain as little as 3-5% depending on the product. The rest is highly flammable polyurethane foam.gasoline

If a consumer is looking for an alternative to polyurethane foam, soy foam isn’t the solution.

Sigh.

But soy foam sounds so healthy … and marketers count on it.

The initial green angle for soy foam was on using renewable plant-based resources* to supplement non-renewable petroleum. Mattress and furniture company marketers, however, soon found that marketing could intentionally lead consumers to make seemingly logical – albeit false – assumptions about what was, and wasn’t, in “soy foam”.

With the addition of green imagery and colors, the trick was complete, and the public assumed that soy foam was made from soybeans.

Seriously. Green lettering can make anything look healthier. Watch.

poison

Now look.

poison logo

 Looks healthier, friendlier and greener, doesn’t it?

Look at the labels on soy-foam products: the implication is clearly that the foam is primarily made from soybeans and is manufactured with fewer chemicals.

This is clearly false.

—————–

*You can read volumes about industrial soy crops. While out of the scope of this post, recent concerns include deforestation in Brazil for giant soybean plantations.  More than 90% of U.S. soybeans derive from GMO (genetically modified organism) crops, and as far back as 2007 more than 50% of global soybean crops were GMO.

Additionally, a story  published March 23, 2014 in The Telegraph claims “The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices…” Environmentalists have been concerned about biofuel crops and their environmental impact for some time. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to publish the actual report on March 31, 2014. Read The Telegraph’s article at http://bit.ly/1iwMv3K.

 

weeSpring

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Mixing product reviews, social media and isn’t-that-adorable baby product browsing, weeSpring.com is a new online portal where expectant and current parents or any other baby product shoppers can connect with others – and share the scoop on hot and not products.

weeSpring

Product reviews are made by consumers rather than professional reviewers, so readers get unbiased takes on products – if it’s good, you’re going to read about it from real users.  (We like that because parents love our products!)

While you can log on with an email address, weeSpring recommends signing in through Facebook so product recommendations from your friends will get top real estate in your viewing.  Additionally, you can Follow (and Unfollow) people on weeSpring to see what they think of the latest stroller, baby hat, or, ahem, certified organic crib mattress!

weeSpring founders Melissa Post, Allyson Downey and Jack Downey

weeSpring founders Melissa Post, Allyson Downey and Jack Downey

Click a virtual “checkmark” if you own an item and a virtual “pushpin” to bookmark it on your wishlist.  You can also create lists.  If you want to share your 10 Healthiest Baby Product picks with your friends, go to it.

Users browse categories with headings like Go, Eat, Sleep, Play and Clean.  Sponsored brand pages give additional information.  If you don’t see a product you love you can easily add it through a Suggest a Product link.

While the social aspect of weeSpring is a focus, you can create a “Secretly Expecting” profile to stay anonymous. If you’re more about getting seen, review enough stuff and get a Featured Parent ranking.

Visit Naturepedic at weeSpring at www.weespring.com/brand/naturepedic

 

ally+logan                            DSC_0081

Allyson and Melissa with their own little “weesprings”!