Are There Fire Retardants In My Mattress?
Flame retardants are a requirement for many home furnishings, including draperies, carpets, couches, and mattresses. The short sighted effectiveness of non-flammable furniture did not take into account the negative impact to the health of the environment and your health. It all started in 1974 with the creation of the Fire Prevention and Control Act which was set up to oversee fire safety.
In 1976, the same year Suzanne Diamond started handcrafting her own natural mattresses and futons, the Federal Fire Marshall, or Fire Commissioner, requested cigarette companies invent a cigarette that would self-extinguish. It was believed that house fires could reduced as people were falling asleep while smoking cigarettes. Phillip Morris, a large contributor to the United States Tobacco Industry, could not come up with a profitable solution. (The self-extinguishing cigarette did not have the same taste and showed poorly in test markets. It would take Philip Morris another 20 years to develop a self-extinguishing cigarette. Its efficacy has been debated.)
So the United States Government made a new law and let Big Tobacco off the hook. From that day forward, all mattresses had to pass a flammability standard. The test involved 18 PAL MALL Cigarette’s, (it had to be PAL MALL by PHILIP MORRIS). These cigarettes were required because it contains chemicals to make to them burn faster so people would smoke more cigarettes, therefore a good testing tool.
So mattress manufactures set up burn rooms and sent mattresses out for 3rd party evaluation and testing to ensure their mattresses would not catch on fire. Although the law only stated that a mattress not burn, it did not specify the methods manufacturers use to ensure the mattress did not burn. This was the beginning of chemical fire retardants being used to manufacture mattresses and futons in the United States.
Are you getting mad yet? Wait there is more. Around the same time, California decided to make the rule even harsher. Instead of burning 18 Pal Mall cigarettes on the face and sides of the mattress, California law Ca-117 stated that every ingredient inside the mattress must be fire resistant, not just the outer layers. This created a stir in the foam industry because most mattresses are made using highly flammable polyurethane foam. This forced foam manufacturers to put flame retardant chemicals inside of their foam in order to pass these new tests.
Fire retardants are toxic chemicals, that pollute our land, water and bodies and will be with us for our entire lifetime and longer. Are you mad yet? I hope so. I have been mad for 40 years. The Futon Shop has been lawfully making chemical fire retardant free mattresses by asking their customer to ask their Doctors for a prescription for a fire retardant free mattress or futon.
Today, the California laws have been updated to 117-2013, a barrier test only on the outside of a sofa and dropped the test for mattresses. The Federal government changed the laws from a Pal Mall cigarette test to a Bunsen Burner test on the surface of the mattress or futon, called the open flame test. The reason the law changed is the Federal Fire Marshal determined that cigarettes were not longer the problem, but children playing with lighters were causing fires. Therefore, a Bunsen burner (lighter) test was developed. But the fact is, any mattress, sofa or sofa bed manufactured before 2013 is probably full of chemical fire retardants. Since most people keep their mattresses futons and furniture around for over 10 years, there is a high likelihood that your mattress is toxic. It is still a ridiculous law and the toxic fumes from petro-chemical foam filled mattress is just as deadly, if not more so than the fire itself. Most people die from the smoke, not the fire in a home fire situation.
Flame Retardants can be extremely harmful to one’s health. So it is best to reduce the exposure to these chemicals whenever possible. One such place you want to make sure this is the case is your mattress. This is where you spend nearly one third of your life. You do not want it to be filled with harmful chemicals that can lead to a host of health issues down the road. Typically, in the past it has been hard to guarantee the ingredients used in the creation of your mattress because most if not all mattress production is done over seas and then imported. No one can guarantee the use of organic ingredients done in another country with different laws. If you are not sure where your mattress was manufactured chances are, it was manufactured over seas and does contain fire retardants. The key is to find an American Company that manufactures their products on American soil and is eco-conscious. One such company is The Futon Shop. Not only does The Futon Shop manufacture all their products on American soil in San Francisco California, but they try to avoid the use of flame retardants whenever possible. They prefer to use the natural fire retardant Virgin Wool as a barrier fabric whenever possible. Feel free to contact them at 1800-44-FUTON to find a perfect mattress without fire retardants.
We all hope that our government is making laws to protect us, but the reality is quite different. This is why we must be mindful of what we buy and whom we buy it from, if we want to make the world a healthier place for our children and our children's' children.
• Click to learn more about Why Should I Get A Chemical Free Mattresses?. (all are fire retardant free)
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