|From bedding to toys, a surprising array of toxic materials exist in the average nursery: |
Polyurethane foam is used to fill baby mattresses, changing pads, nursing pillows, and gliders. This material has replaced wool and cotton filling, used tradionally, because polyurethane foam is a cheaper substitution. However it is essentially “foamified” petroleum and is extremely, extremely flammable. As such, it is heavily treated with fire retardant chemicals such as PBDEs (the most common of which was just banned by the state of California and across Europe). Many other questionable chemicals are also added in the fabrication process. Get the details about flammability concerns and more at theGreenGuide.com.
Polyurethane foam disintegrates over time, breaking down into small particles that easily become airborne while releasing substantial VOCs throughout its lifecycle. The neurotoxin toluene can offgas from mattresses and other products. Some of the health hazards listed on manufacturer material safety data sheets (MSDS) for polyurethane foam include: possible cardiac arrhythmias, breathlessness, chest discomfort, irritation of mucous membranes, headache, coughing, asthma-like allergic reaction, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, and reduced pulmonary function. This is NOT an appropriate fiber for your baby to rest against day after day, especially with the escalating issue of children's asthma and life-threatening allergies.
One of the most important choices you can make for the health of your child involves furnishing your child's sleeping environment. Babies spend 10-14 hours a day sleeping, with every breath inhaling air just inches away from dangerous chemicals found in conventional mattresses. Give your child a safe, non-toxic mattress for a healthy start in life.
Once you learn about the dangers of polyurethane foam, you'll be outraged that so many nursery items are typically filled with this material. Changing table pads, nursing pillows, and glider pillows are all sources of polyurethane foam in the nursery. Replace whenever possible, even if you simply use a fluffy blanket folded as your changing table pad. Naturepedic's organic changing pad and Blessed Nest's organic nursing pillow are both healthy choices.
Vinyl/PVC is used to cover crib/bassinet mattresses and changing pads in order to make them waterproof. It is also used as the waterproof barrier in virtually all waterproof mattress pads. Yet, Vinyl/PVC is largely regarded as one of the most toxic plastics in use today. It also poses numerous environmental concerns. Learn about vinyl/PVC concerns at BeSafe.net. Mattress covers made from vinyl/PVC contain many chemical additives such as phthalates, antimony, and various biocides which are released over time. In addition, the toxins lead and/or cadmium are used to stabilize some vinyl.
The almost universal use of vinyl in baby mattresses and changing pads is one more reason to choose an organic option when furnishing your nursery. Vinyl-free mattress protectors by Naturepedic or pure wool mattress toppers from EcoBaby both offer wetness protection without the dangerous fumes. Be sure to purchase wool items not treated with pesticides. Organic wools are a wise investment.
And don't forget to check toys for vinyl components. Soft baby books made in vinyl make me cringe, since babies love to CHEW on these books. Soft plastic toys and clear plastic bags are often constructed in vinyl. Oh... and think about replacing your vinyl shower curtain with a natural fiber such as linen, wool, or cotton. All that warm, moist air in contact with vinyl is sure to contribute to air polution in your home.
Toxic Fire Retardent Chemicals:
Since conventional crib mattresses are filled with an extremely flammable material, they are treated or wrapped with harsh industrial brominated and chlorinated fire retardent chemicals. Children's pajamas and bedding are also treated with fire retardents. Unfortunately, these chemicals introduce health and toxicity issues. Some fire retardents have been associated with thyroid and liver damage, hyperactivity, and changes in motor behavior and other brain functions. These chemicals typically constitute 10-30% of the polyurethane foam by weight and can easily become airborne. Even worse, brominated and chlorinated fire retardents have not been shown statistically to actually save lives, which explains why firefighter organizations throughout the state of California are supporting their elimination. See "Fire retardants and health risks" and "Ban Toxic Fire Retardants" for more info.
Choosing an organic mattress can eliminate the need for fire retardents. A crib mattress covered in wool is naturally fire retardent and all Naturepedic mattresses feature a non-toxic fire barrier system based on baking soda and silica.
When shopping for baby clothes and beddings, organic options will ensure that you avoid pesticides and fire retardent chemicals!