Is the old crib mattress that you got from your friend or family member as a gift, because it’s just like new, good enough for your baby? How about the one you used on your first baby, should you use it again? Please read below and then answer that question.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), the surface material used in nearly all baby mattresses, is widely considered to be one of the most toxic and environmentally unfriendly plastics in use today.
Phthalates, associated with asthma, reproductive effects, and cancer, make up 30% by weight of the PVC surface of a typical baby mattress. Phthalates are not bound to the plastic and leach out.
The FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission have issued general warnings regarding the use of phthalates, yet the PVC surfaces of baby mattresses still contain phthalates.
DEHP (the most commonly used phthalate in baby mattresses), together with several other phthalates, have already been banned across Europe for use in many children’s products.
The PVC surface of a typical baby mattress is also treated with toxic fire retardant chemicals such as antimony. Various biocides are often added as well.
Polyurethane foam, the predominant filling material used in baby mattresses, typically contains various problematic ingredients including chemical catalysts, surfactants, emulsifiers, pigments, and other chemical additives. These frequently include formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and other well established toxic chemicals such as organotin compounds.
Polyurethane foam (essentially solid petroleum) is extremely flammable. To combat this hazard, industrial toxic fire retardants are added. The most common chemical fire retardant used to treat polyurethane foam has been pentaBDE, a toxin associated with hyperactivity and neuro-behavioral alterations. PentaBDE is not bound to the foam, and leaches out into the surrounding air.
PentaBDE has been recently banned. However, there is currently no planned government action to recall the millions of baby mattresses presently in use that contain pentaBDE.
Other common materials found in baby mattresses include “shoddy” pads made from scraps swept off the floor of textile mills or “hair” pads made from pig hair.
Children are far more vulnerable to toxic chemicals than adults, especially within their first few years of life. Considering that children spend over 50% of their early life on a baby mattress, it would be prudent to use materials that don’t contain such dangerous chemicals.
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