Chicago Tribune Reports on Crib Mattress Safety

Caring for a child young enough to rest in a crib? Heed the cautionary findings in Chicago Tribune’s recent expose of dangerous chemicals found in several popular brands of baby cribs.

 The feature focuses on “three popular brands of baby mattresses” in particular: Babies R Us, Foundations, and Angeles. The Tribune purchased and ran tests on 11 mattresses from these manufacturers for a group of chemicals called “chlorinated tris,” cancerous toxins that have been known to cause harm for so long that they were “removed from children’s pajamas a generation ago.”

One or multiple chlorinated tris appeared in every single mattress the Tribune’s lab tests analyzed for them. Toxicologists warn that these chemicals “could cause mutations in DNA” and other worrisome “illnesses and injuries” to children exposed to them.

Dissenters against the Tribune’s findings, such as mattress importer Summer Infant, argue that because these supposedly contaminated mattresses include “sealed impermeable plastic coverings” all over them, “there is no hazardous exposure to the cited flame retardants” that could harm children and worry parents.

But Duke University chemist Heather Stapleton cogently counters this with the clarification that chlorinated tris “can escape from mattresses any time air moves through them.”

If even a fully covered mattress bounces back after being pressed down, air — and potentially remnants of chlorinated tris — is escaping with every push. “All of the mattresses” assessed in the lab tests “could be compressed with little pressure before springing back to their original shape.”

The Tribune plans to engage in another bout of exhaustive testing to ascertain “the likelihood of a child experiencing any adverse effects” from chlorinated tris and other harmful chemicals.

In the meantime, we at Nine Naturals highly recommend: Clean and Healthy New York’s “The Mattress Matters.” This comprehensive document helps you navigate the risky waters of the mattress marketplace and making a safe purchase.

What chemicals and allergens should you most be concerned about in your kid’s mattress? Which companies reliably manufacture mattresses that are free of these toxins? How do you read a mattress’ label to determine its chemical safety? The report answers these and other key questions expertly and clearly.

Some of our personal favorite nuggets of wisdom from “Mattress Matters” include its “Summary of Mattress Materials” for virtually every manufacturer of note, as well as its pros-and-cons feature on common mattress components like vinyl and antibacterials.

We also appreciated its handy guide on avoiding “greenwashing,” a sneaky practice unscrupulous mattress makers use to dupe you into believing their product is environmentally friendly when it’s actually anything but.

How will research from Chicago Tribune and Clean and Healthy New York change how you shop for your own little one(s)?