Ready to go down the rabbit-hole, Alice?
It may be a perplexing quandary to come to the realization that mattresses in the United States must be fire proof, while at the same time not being required to be free of heavily off-gassing toxic chemicals that affect the people sleeping on them. Yet here we are.
The short answer is, mattress manufacturers are mandated by law to make their products be able to be exposed to an open flame for quite sometime without igniting (they can smolder), but how the mattress manufacturers get there is not mandated. As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite. This information is proprietary, they do not have to say what means they use to reach these standards. They get there however they want.
As stated above, how these manufacturers make their mattresses fire proof is very secretive. You will not be able to find out what chemicals are used. Try it.
So, to discern this information, we at Austin, Dallas & Houston Natural Mattress, and now MangoMattress.com, have to vacuum chamber test these non-natural mattresses to see what is actually off-gassing out of the product; what chemicals are being used to make them fire proof.
A vacuum chamber is a scientific tool that in essence creates a space, wherein everything else has been removed from that space (isolates all outside x-factors), wherein one can put things & be able to measure scientifically to see exactly what chemicals are off-gassing out of the product, and in what percentages, or PPM’s (parts per million). The results are typically shocking.
As an example, one memory foam mattress line that we promise you that you have heard of (and may be sleeping on right now), off-gassed a myriad of man made chemicals, many that haven’t been tested for toxicity, 62 of which were known voc’s (volatile organic compounds), and 9 of these that were known carcinogens (cancer causing agents).
And this is just in your mattress. The same applies to electronics, carpet & carpet pad, building materials, wires, cabling, furniture, car seats, children’s play materials and much more. The federal government lazily tries to discern what levels of these toxic chemicals are “safe” in a product, but doesn’t take into effect that levels of these toxic chemicals are coming off of almost everything in a modern home & office environment.
But chemicals are everywhere, right? What’s the big deal?
These chemical fire retardants are not bound to the materials they are applied to. They evaporate, migrate & off-gas out of the product over time. This has been going on since the 1950’s. We now find ourselves in the midst of a giant scientific experiment, wherein we are the guinea pigs, being awash daily in all of these chemicals. The chemical fire-retardant industry is now a 12 billion dollar a year industry, pumping out 7 billion pounds of chemical fire retardants per year by 2023.
These chemicals are absorbed by people. Every person on this planet, and every animal, carries levels of certain fire-retardant chemicals.
We now find these chemicals everywhere we look. Every person now has a ddt level, a pcb level, a dioxin level, etc. And the higher up the food chain you are, the higher the levels. Its ubiquitous. But even worse in the United States. US mothers breastmilk contains ten times more fire retardant chemicals than those in other countries, though they carry them as well.
We find these fire-retardant chemicals in mothers breast milk, when babies are born they are already carrying them. And then are exposed to them throughout life. We find them in our meats, plants, food chain, our geothermal processes, air, our homes dust, our placentas, and almost all our man-made products. We find them in our rain.
This primarily happens via what is scientifically known as the Distillation (or Grasshopper) Effect;
These toxic fire-retardant chemicals emit from the products that carry them as particles in our dust, that get into human body systems, but also into our planets air & atmosphere. They are transported via geothermal processes across the globe.
What are they?
As mentioned above, what chemicals manufacturers use to make their products fireproof (chemical fire retardants) is proprietary. They are not forced by law to share such things, as the industry writes its own rules thru our Congress. So, we who want to know must vacuum chamber test these products to see what humans are being exposed to from them.
What do we find? PBDE’s, TDCCP’s, OCTA, TRIS, formaldehyde, antimony, melamine, and tons of others, all which are known toxic chemicals. There have been 80,000+ chemicals invented in the last century; most have never really been tested for toxicity. And we pump out 7 billion pounds per year.
Many are known cancer causing carcinogens, developmental neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, hormonal disruptors, & obesogenics.
What do they do?
They make us sick. We have found that around 10% of disease comes from gene defects. Some people have diseases associated with a specific gene defect.
We have also found that around 10% of human diseases are caused specifically by our environments, & massive over exposure to harmful chemicals.
That means that about 80% are caused by the interplay between our genes & the environment.
Cancer affects 50% of the US population, causes 600 thousand deaths per year, and costs 88 billion dollars to treat. Autism now affects 1/59 children. Mental disorders (like ADHD) now affect 13% of our children and cost 266 billion dollars a year to treat. Asthma now affects 6.2 million kids per year, at 56 billion a year to treat. Allergic reactions, sensitivities are also up, and we now find that 70% of the population uses a daily medical prescription. By 2025, 1/6th of our entire US economic output will be spent on healthcare, at 3.3 trillion dollars a year.
So what levels of these toxic & otherwise unknown chemicals do you feel are safe in your families household? In the mattresses that we push our bodies & faces into nightly for eight hours at a time every night, for our entire lives?
And WHY? When we don’t have to?
How the hell did we get here?
Very quickly, an overview. See “sources” below for more thorough information.
This all began in the 1950’s. Most things we are surrounded by in our homes & offices (“inside”), including mattresses, become made from these new amazing products, that are made from petroleum oil. Polyurethane foams. They are soft, resilient, easy to mass produce, and cheap.
The downside, we soon found out, is that they are of course highly flammable.
People smoked cigarettes a lot more back then, and people who happened to fall asleep with a cigarette, or some similar incident, would find their houses burning down. So, there were many lawsuits leveled at the tobacco industry. Lots of money is in play.
The immensely powerful tobacco industry, tired of being sued & made the bad guys, used their lobbyists, advertising and power, and flipped the script. They blamed the fires on the polyurethane products themselves being highly flammable, not their products. Both were to blame.
So, they got together with the chemical industry, and colluded to market and promote the use of chemical flame retardants. Don’t stop cigarettes, just make everything fireproof! Since then, these chemical companies have one of the most powerful, well-funded & influential trade associations and lobbying efforts in the United States. As an example, take the case of “Citizens for Fire Safety institute”. An organization which single-handedly killed over 60 local, state & federal bills on the subject. They advertised that they were “a coalition of fire professionals, educators, community activists, burn centers, doctors, fire departments and industry leaders, united to ensure that our country is protected by the highest standards of fire safety”. They even had a pretty picture of a fireman & a bunch of kids on their homepage, holding a banner that said “Fire Safety”, written in crayon (not kidding). Turns out, there were only three members in the group: Chemtura, Albemarle, & ICL Industrial Products, who between them control 40% of the worlds 12 billion dollar a year flame retardant market.
So what do we do?
First, get rid of all the chemically laden, petroleum oil based polyurethane foam products that we can from our inside environments. When burning, polyurethane foam creates one of the most lethal gases known to man, hydrogen cyanide. Also known as “Zyclon B” from history. Replace them as much as possible with products made from natural materials, like natural talalay latex, derived from the milksap of a Hevea brasiliensis rubber tree. Or organic cotton.
More importantly, when we create these products, use a flame retardant that uses zero toxic chemicals.
The chemical companies don’t get as rich, it costs a little more to use, and takes some advanced science to create, but then, our problem is solved.
At Mango Mattress, we use a 100% toxic chemical free, natural wood pulp based rayon fire barrier, so that you can rest assured that you, your sleeping environment, and your family, are safe from such harmful chemicals.
“Sleep Safe in a Toxic World” -by Walter Bader. Freedom Press. Copyright 2nd edition 2011.