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Mattress Chemicals May be Cause of Your Illness

NaturalNews) Mattresses today aren't like the ones manufactured forty years ago. Now they come to us manufactured with chemicals that include flame retardants, petroleum based foams, plastics, vinyls, fungicides and pesticides. Most mattresses are made almost entirely of raw ingredients from the petroleum industry. These ingredients are then made into synthetics such as visco-elastic and polyurethane foams possibly containing TDI (toluene discarnate, which OSHA labels as a hazardous material.)

For those of us who pursue an organic, healthy, natural lifestyle and purchase products that support that environment, Debra Lynn Dadd, an author who has been writing about toxic substances in household products for 25 years, gives us a dire warning; "We have a higher exposure to toxic chemicals in our beds than anywhere else." The consensus is that our faces are inches away from the source at a time when we're most vulnerable.

Research suggests that continuous exposure to these chemicals is making a lot of us very sick. Petroleum chemical exposure can weaken or damage the immune and nervous system and, through countless studies, has been linked to autoimmune disorders. Furthermore The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency both admit there is a connection between respiratory irritation and health problems and the volatile, organic compounds emitted from petroleum.

More research shows that flame retardant toxic chemicals like PBDE, or polybrominated diphenyl ether, are reaching levels in human bodies quicker than did DDT and PCB's in the 1950's, which were eventually banned in the 1970's. These researchers say flame retardants have a subtle effect on children's intelligence by passing through the placenta and being absorbed by the fetus. Several studies have shown there is a doubling in concentration of PBDE's every two to five years in people throughout North America. One alarming study conducted by Indiana University found that a pregnant Indiana woman gave birth to a baby that had nearly 580 parts per billion of this dangerous chemical in its little body.

While you sleep you may also be inhaling toxic fumes from certain glues used to manufacture mattresses. The EPA says these adhesives may irritate the skin and eyes and even be carcinogenic because of methylene chloride, benzene and formaldehyde found in many adhesives. Solvents known to cause damage to the central nervous system are also used in adhesives.

If that's not frightening enough, added to the PBDE threat, unborn babies like the one mentioned earlier can be affected by harmful adhesives that are used in mattresses. The EPA identifies Propylbromide as instrumental in developmental toxicity and Xylene as causing birth defects.

If you think you are safe buying a mattress labeled organic or natural, think again. There are no clear standards for mattresses labeled as such and in many cases there is no distinction about their contents.

There is no government agency that regulates the labeling of mattresses, and trade groups like the International Sleep Products Association and the Specialty Sleep Association offer their members no guidelines for using the terms.

Caveat Emptor - Let the buyer beware.

Even mattresses labeled "natural" can be toxic because they may contain pesticide residue. As a mattress ages it becomes more toxic with these residues because the chemicals never completely dissipate, but when released, they are in the form of an odorless gas. This silent gas binds to house dust which we then inhale or ingest.

There are those who disagree with the studies. Robert Luedeka, executive director of the Polyurethane Foam Association, says these are scare tactics to help hucksters sell products. Steven Safe, professor of toxicology at Texas A & M University believes the effect of mattress chemicals on humans is not significant, however, he says manufacturers are striving to reduce the presence of chemicals in mattresses. He believes the greater harm is to our environment when the mattresses end up in landfills.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping. So until we can find zero-emission mattresses free of any adhesives and other toxins, or until the mattress industry goes green, or until the Federal Trade Commission steps in, we consumers have to educate ourselves and understand what we're buying.

Until next time.
Your health mate,
Deanna Dean

New York Times, January 15, 2009, Julie Scelfo,Mary Cordaro

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