Why Your Mattress Could be the Most Dangerous Piece of Furniture in Your Home

The average U.S. home contains multiple sources of PBDEs, as they're widely used in: • Carpets• Textiles• Polyurethane foam furnishings• Electronics and plastics• Motor vehicles.

 
They out- gas into your home regularly and are commonly found in household dust, where they can be inhaled. Again, since they are persistent environmental pollutants, PBDEs are also found in various foods, including wild and farm-raised fish and the most "pure" food of all, breast milk.

One of the most important, and often overlooked, sources of PBDEs to address, however, is your mattress. As of July 1, 2007, all U.S. mattresses are required to be highly flame retardant, to the extent that they won't catch on fire if exposed to a blowtorch. This means that the manufacturers are dousing them with highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals like PBDEs, which do NOT have to be disclosed in any way. Dr. Doris J. Rapp, MD, board-certified as both an environmental medical specialist and pediatric allergist, explained:
"They have maybe a cup and a half or two cups of this material on the mattress. They sprinkle it over the top or they put it into some kind of a coating on the mattress. And this can make people very, very ill."

Think about it
You spend from six to nine hours every night with your face in close proximity to your mattress, breathing in these chemicals. Your children spend even longer sleeping, with their faces even closer to the mattress surface. And if your children jump on the bed, or you bounce on your mattress, even more of these toxins can be released into the air. For this reason, look for a chemical-free, organic or 100% wool mattress for yourself and your child. Another viable option is to look for a mattress that uses Kevlar, a bullet-proof type of material, in lieu of chemicals for fire-proofing.

Your Sofa Probably Contains Toxic Flame Retardants Too New research published in Environmental Science & Technology revealed that 85 percent of couch foam samples tested contained chemical flame retardants.9 The samples came from more than 100 couches purchased from 1985 to 2010.

More than 40 percent of the couches (and more than half of those purchased since 2005) contained a flame-retardant chemical known as chlorinated tris (TDCPP). This chemical was removed from children's pajamas in the 1970s amid concerns that it may cause cancer. Now, a ubiquitous addition to couch cushions across the U.S., it can easily migrate from the foam and into household dust, which children often pick up on their hands and transfer into their mouths.

Another 17% of the couches tested contained the chemical pentaBDE, which is so toxic it's been banned across the globe. And the chemicals do not exist in small quantities either. Researchers noted that flame retardants may make up 11 percent of the foam's weight, and many couches contain one pound or more.

Why are there so many chemicals in your couch?It's largely due to California Technical Bulletin 117, which requires furniture sold in California to withstand a 12-second exposure to a small flame without igniting. Because of California's economic importance, the requirement has essentially become a national standard, with manufacturers dousing their furniture with the chemicals whether they're going to be sold in California or elsewhere in the States.

It's Important to Keep Your Home as Dust-Free as Possible
House dust is obviously unavoidable, but there's good reason to vacuum or use a wet mop on hard surfaces often – even if you're not particularly a neat freak. Far from being an innocuous substance, household dust is more akin to a chemical cocktail that you inhale and ingest on a daily basis.

Researchers from the Silent Spring Institute tested household dust for 49 flame retardant chemicals. Forty-four were found in all, and half of the samples contained 36 of them, sometimes at potentially harmful levels. 11 Chlorinated organophosphate flame retardants, which are listed as carcinogens under California's Proposition 65, were detected in the highest concentrations. The study's co-author noted:

"Our study found that people are exposed to toxic flame retardants every day. These hazardous chemicals are in the air we breathe, the dust we touch and the couches we sit on. Many flame retardants raise health concerns, including cancer, hormone disruption, and harmful effects on brain development. It is troubling to see that a majority of homes have at least one flame retardant at levels beyond what the federal government says is safe. Infants and toddlers who spend much time on the floor are at higher risk for exposure."

What Else Can You do to Reduce Your Family's Exposure to PBDEs?
Manufacturers are not required to disclose the chemicals they use to make their products comply with safety regulations. When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses, carpet padding as well as other plastic products like cell phones, computers and TVs, ask what type of fire retardant it contains. Although you likely won't find PBDEs in newer foam products, there are a number of other fire-retardant chemicals that can be just as detrimental to your health, including antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid, and other brominated chemicals.

Other tips you can use to reduce your exposure to PBDEs around your home include

  1. Be especially careful with polyurethane foam products manufactured prior to 2005, such as upholstered furniture, mattresses and pillows, as these are most likely to contain PBDEs. If you have any of these in your home, inspect them carefully and replace ripped covers and/or any foam that appears to be breaking down. Also avoid reupholstering furniture by yourself as the reupholstering process increases your risk of exposure.
  2. Older carpet padding is another major source of PBDEs, so take precautions when removing old carpet. You'll want to isolate your work area from the rest of your house to avoid spreading it around, and use a HEPA filter vacuum to clean up.
  3. You probably also have older sources of the PBDEs known as Deca in your home as well, and these are so toxic they are banned in several states. Deca PBDEs can be found in electronics like TVs, cell phones, kitchen appliances, fans, toner cartridges and more. It's a good idea to wash your hands after handling such items, especially before eating, and at the very least be sure you don't let infants mouth any of these items (like your TV remote control or cell phone).
  4. As you replace PBDE-containing items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool and cotton.
  5. Look for organic and "green" building materials, carpeting, baby items and upholstery, which will be free from these toxic chemicals and help reduce your overall exposure. Furniture products filled with cotton, wool or polyester tend to be safer than chemical-treated foam; some products also state that they are "flame-retardant free."
  6. PBDEs are often found in household dust, so clean up with a HEPA-filter vacuum and/or a wet mop often.

By Joseph Mercola..(articles.mercola.com)

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