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Why is an eco mattress important?

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September 14, 2007 2:27AM

Most mattresses (especially baby and children's mattresses) are made primarily from polyurethane foam. This is a petroleum product with various added chemicals which turn it into a foam. Other chemicals are then added to prevent the foam from igniting and burning (it is petroleum after all). The American Association of State Fire Marshals has called polyurethane foam "solid gasolene" and has asked the EPA to classify it as a hazardous substance. Further, most waterproofed mattresses (once again, primarily baby and children's mattresses) are made waterproof by using a vinyl surface on the mattress. Vinyl offgasses phthalates, a known toxic substance. The American Academy of Pediaricians has recognized phthalates as a suspected human carcinogen. A University of Rochester Medical School study has definitivly linked phthalates to male fertility issues. A study in the International Journal of Cancer links phthalates in vinyl to allergies and asthma. Eco mattresses remove these (and other) potentially harmful chemicals.

However, eco mattresses do not necessarily solve all problems. For example, many eco mattresses are made from natural latex, a known allergen (especially for children). Many also use wool which can be similarly problematic. Many eco mattresses are not waterproof, which can lead to bacteria and mold growth, particularly in baby and children's mattresses. Greenguard Environmental Institute (www.greenguard.org) and Healthy Child Healthy World (www.healthychild.org) are two independent non-profits that evaluate and recommend eco-friendly and safe mattresses.