What's Wrong with Conventional Mattresses?
Conventional mattresses use dangerous materials such as vinyl/PVC and polyurethane foam:
Vinyl/PVC is used to cover baby mattresses and changing pads in order to make them waterproof. It is also used as the waterproof barrier in virtually all waterproof mattress pads. Yet, Vinyl/PVC is largely regarded as one of the most toxic plastics in use today. It also poses numerous environmental concerns. Mattress covers made from vinyl/PVC contain many chemical additives such as phthalates, antimony, and various biocides which are released over time.
Polyurethane foam is used to fill baby mattresses and changing pads. This material has replaced wool and cotton filling, used tradionally, because polyurethane foam is a cheaper substitution. However it is essentially "foamified" petroleum and is extremely flammable. As such, it is heavily treated with fire retardant chemicals such as PBDEs (the most common of which was just banned by the state of California and across Europe). Many other questionable chemicals are also added in the fabrication process.
Polyurethane foam disintegrates over time, breaking down into small particles that easily become airborne while releasing substantial VOCs throughout its lifecycle. This is NOT an appropriate fiber for your baby to rest against day after day.
Toxic Fire Retardent Chemicals
Since conventional crib mattresses are filled with an extremely flammable material, they are treated or wrapped with harsh industrial fire retardent chemicals. These chemicals introduce other health and toxicity issues. Some of these chemicals have already been associated with thyroid and liver damage, hyperactivity, and changes in motor behavior and other brain functions. These chemicals typically constitute 10-30% of the foam by weight and can easily become airborne.
A much safer choice are traditional materials such as cotton and wool for filling and finishing baby mattresses. These fibers emit no toxic fumes or airborne fibers, nor are they as dangerous in the case of a bedroom fire. Since wool can pose an allergic concern, some prefer a wool-free alternative.
In order to provide a safe waterproof barrier, Naturepedic uses a polyethylene layer, since polyethylene is a well-documented, inert, and completely safe plastic used throughout the food industry and even in implants. Polyethylene is also an environmentally-friendly plastic recommended by environmental groups worldwide. Those who prefer to avoid all plastics can choose a mattress with a wool cover, since wool provides some water-resistance and natural fire protection.
Naturepedic has also developed a proprietary FlameBreaker fire protection system based on the unique fire retardant properties of baking soda and silica bonded to rayon fiber. The rayon is derived from cellulose fibers, primarily from eucalyptus and poplar trees and have a low carbon footprint. FlameBreaker passes all Federal and State flammability standards, including open flame.
Need more information? This article is full of quotes from and links to scientific studies and statements regarding the dangers of conventional mattresses: Five Problems with Crib Mattresses.
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