New “The Mattress Still Matters” report Underlines Chemical Hazards and Lack of Transparency from Crib Mattress Brands

Clean & Healthy New York and the Ecology Center partnered to analyze 227 and test 13 crib mattresses from 37 different companies to compile this extensive report so that parents-to-be can make informed choices for the health and safety of their babies.

New York, NY– July 21st 2020 – Getting Ready for Baby campaign leaders Clean and Healthy New York and the Ecology Center announced the release of a new crib mattress report “The Mattress Still Matters.” This report, based on painstaking research and product testing was compiled to help families navigate the information, or lack thereof, provided by crib mattress manufacturers.

 

“When parents are getting ready for a new baby, they face a multitude of choices,” says Bobbi Wilding, MS, Deputy Director, Clean & Healthy New York and Director of the national Getting Ready for Baby Campaign. “This report will help them clearly see the materials used in the making of various crib mattresses so they can make the healthiest purchasing decision for their baby.”

According to Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP in his foreword, “Because the federal agencies are not doing their job, parents need to take action to protect their children’s health. And to take effective action, parents need accurate, honest, unbiased information. That is why this report, The Mattress Still Matters, is so important, as it provides critical information for parents that is available nowhere else.”

"The results are clear.  Crib mattress manufacturers still have a lot of work to do to make mattresses safe!  Research clearly shows that toxic chemicals linked to serious diseases leach out of mattresses and expose infants,” said Anne Hulick, Director of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut. “This report should be a wakeup call for manufacturers and retailers as parents and all of us buying products for babies in our lives want safe, affordable products!" ­

“Our testing of crib mattresses shows there are a range of mattresses for children on the market,” said Melissa Cooper Sargent, Green Living Resources Director at the Ecology Center. “At one end of the spectrum there are products with chemical hazards and little to no information available about what’s in the mattress. The better products have fewer chemical hazards and safer materials and the manufacturers are much more transparent. It's important for manufacturers to test their own products and have a transparent process in place to avoid chemical hazards, especially for products so commonly used by small children.”

“The science is clear: flame retardant chemicals can harm brain development, and have no business being in crib mattresses,” said Tracy Gregoire, Director of the Healthy Children Project at the Learning Disabilities Association of America. “Prenatal exposure to these dangerous chemicals may result in long-term consequences, including lower IQ, as well as learning and behavioral problems.”

The Mattress Still Matters, a follow-up to a 2011 report, The Mattress Matters, investigates what companies disclose about the materials they choose and how that compares to laboratory analysis of crib mattresses. In the compiling of this report, 227 product webpages from 37 crib mattress brands were reviewed to determine what could be learned about the materials they use. That information was sent to the companies for their review and feedback. 13 mattresses from 13 different brands were then analyzed with laboratory tests to compare company disclosures with the chemicals detected. Some key takeaways from the report are as follows:

COMPANY TRANSPARENCY:
  • 35% of those surveyed— 10 companies— provided information about each major component of their mattresses.

  • 13% provided information about most of those major components.

  • A majority of companies—52%, did not disclose most or all of their materials and 22% of companies had significant gaps on their websites.

  • Only 4 of the 13 items tested fully matched test results and information provided by companies.
     

WHAT PARENTS SHOULD LOOK FOR ON LABELS AND WEBSITES:
  • Check for specific information about materials for each part of the mattress, including the material or chemical that imparts advertised qualities like antimicrobial, or waterproof.

  • There are five key kinds of chemicals to avoid in crib mattresses: PFAS chemicals, antimicrobials, PVC/vinyl, flame retardant chemicals, and heavy metals. Polyurethane foam is a material that should also be avoided.

  • Look for strong certifications such as MADE SAFE®, GOTS, GOLS. Whenever possible verify on the certifying organization’s database. For GOLS, look for a certificate on the maker’s website.

  • Be on the lookout for “greenwashing.” Many terms like nontoxic, ecofriendly and organic are meaningless without the back up of verifiable certifications. Things like “soyfoam, “infused with plant oil” and “plant-based foam” can actually refer to polyurethane foam. Adding plant oils to the formulation doesn’t change the other problematic chemicals used to make the material.
     

“We urge parents to ask questions and when in doubt, call the manufacturer for more information. Brands with nothing to hide are happy to answer customer questions,” says Melissa Cooper Sargent, Green Living Resources Director, Ecology Center, “and remember your newborn baby will spend 16-17 hours a day sleeping on a crib mattress, which is a key component of their primary environment for their entire early childhood. No one wants their precious baby sleeping in ‘chemical soup’ and knowledge is key when manufacturers labels and websites omit important information.”

 

For more information, please contact Giselle Chollett at Giselle@adinnyc.com or 917.386.7116.

About Getting Ready for Baby

Launched in 2013, this national campaign of over 100 organizations works to ensure all children's products are made without toxic chemicals. The Getting Ready for Baby campaign urges infant and toddler retailers, particularly buybuy BABY, not to sell products that contain chemicals that can harm children's health.  As a result, buybuy Baby and its parent company, Bed Bath and Beyond: issued a "Restricted Substances List" of chemicals vendors should assess and avoid, ensuring alternatives were inherently less toxic; worked with vendors to remove all flame retardant chemicals from specific categories, including crib mattresses, rocking chairs, and ottomans; phased out some flame retardants in all products; and in 2019 issued a Priority Chemicals List to be phased out in cleansers, and personal care products – especially those made for babies and toddlers.

About Clean & Healthy New York

Clean & Healthy New York’s (CHNY) mission is to promote safer chemicals, a sustainable economy, and a healthier world. CHNY empowers people and advances market and government policies and practices, to transform the toxic chemical economy into a just, healthy, sustainable circular economy. CHNY convenes and leads our allies. CHNY represents, connects, and taps into the power of otherwise isolated constituencies, such as scientists, nurses, pediatricians, procurement officers, teachers, parents, childcare providers and businesses to make change.

About the Ecology Center

Founded in 1970, the Ecology Center is organized for one purpose -- to develop innovative solutions for healthy people and a healthy planet. They believe that the central question of our time is how human beings are going to thrive in the world without destroying the earth's ability to sustain us. In the face of enormous environmental challenges, virtually all sectors of our society are now scrambling to create solutions, and the Ecology Center plays a critical role in advancing the best models. You can learn more about The Ecology Center’s role in the project here. You can also learn about their test methods and results here.

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