We usually think of a baby’s crib as being a very safe and secure place for a baby or young child to sleep or play.
But new research is revealing that a baby’s bed – especially its mattress and plastic covering — can actually contain many hidden chemical dangers.
According to environmental engineer Barry A. Cik, millions of mattresses being used right now by babies and toddlers may be acting like ticking chemical time-bombs.
“Babies and toddlers spend 10-14 hours each day sleeping and playing on their mattress,” says Cik. “A baby’s every breath inhales air no more than six inches away from his mattress, so some chemicals or carcinogenic compounds contained in the mattress or its covering may enter the child’s body.”
Cik says parents should be aware of five key factors regarding mattresses that can have an impact:
1. HARMFUL CHEMICALS
Nearly all baby mattresses in use today contain phthalates (pronounced “thalates”), chemical fire retardants, and even pesticides, as well as an extensive list of added industrial chemicals, mostly related to the vinyl (PVC) and or polyurethane foam contained in most mattresses. There have already been some links to adverse physical reactions including respiratory tract irritation, sensory irritation, pulmonary irritation, and airflow limitation.
Cik is especially alarmed about the presence of phthalates, a class of probable carcinogens that can cause fetal death, malformations, and reproductive toxicity in laboratory animals.
Other chemicals used in and on mattresses include questionable fire retardants, such as antimony, brominated chemicals, modacrylic, and polyacrylonitrile.
2. POTENTIAL ALLERGENS
Many baby crib mattresses contain natural latex/rubber. Natural latex/rubber has been associated with allergies. Allergic reaction to latex can include shortness of breath, shock, and even death. In fact hospitals all over the country are in the process of removing latex from the premises, particularly from baby and children sections of the hospital.
The flammability of polyurethane foam poses a significant danger. The foam decomposes into deadly gases when ignited and can kill children before the flames do.
4. LIMITED REGULATIONS
The use of chemicals in most consumer products is largely unregulated. As well, the use of chemicals in baby crib mattresses is largely unregulated.
5. BABY VULNERABILITY
Today children are exposed to thousands of substances in the environment which have never been tested for toxicity to children. The EPA has determined that infants up to age two are ten times more vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals than adults and accumulate up to 50 percent of their lifetime cancer risk by their second birthday.
BARRY CIK’S ANSWER to RISKY MATTRESSES;
“A proper mattress for a baby or child should not use vinyl but rather food-grade polyethylene for its waterproofing. Other components used in the construction of a mattress should use organic and non-toxic ingredients as much as possible.”