Flame Retardants in Mattresses May Pose Danger

A group of organizations is calling for a ban of products that have any of the chemicals associated with flame retardants. A coalition of nine organizations including the International Association of Firefighters, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Federation of America have filed a petition with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to eliminate the use of fire retardant chemicals.

Flame retardants made by chemical manufacturers are used to treat many consumer products to help lower risk of injury from fire. Many argue that flame retardants have not been shown to clearly prevent fire. Flame retardant chemicals are in many products found in your home and car – mattresses, electronics, sofas, car seats, cushions.

They may also be found in your body. Some flame retardants can be released from products and accumulate in your home. Depending on the size of your home, your ventilation system and what is in your home, your exposure will vary. Unfortunately, the chemicals can be found in dust particles that we absorb directly through contact and breathing or, even, indirectly through food that has been exposed. Young children are very susceptible to exposure as they often crawl on the floor and place their hands and other objects into their mouths that have the dust on them.

In 2014, Duke University conducted a study testing the urine of mothers and children. All the samples were positive for fire retardant chemicals with the children’s samples being 5 times as high as the moms’. It is believed that these chemicals can damage brain development and may be carcinogenic. Duke University offers foam testing to help consumers be informed about the possible flame retardant chemicals in their homes. Foam samples can be sent to Duke, where they are tested to identify flame retardants and the concentration of the chemicals present.

Flame retardant chemicals have changed over the years with the hope of making them safer and more effective, but it seems that the chemicals used have just been replaced with others with unknown long term effects. Duke states that more research is needed and is planned to determine the possible effects of the different flame retardants currently found in consumer products.

Producers of fire retardants are using recent scientific findings to alter the ways in which fire retardants are produced and applied to help limit exposure to the consumer. The Environmental Protection Agency does evaluate and regulate fire retardants and their use in consumer goods.