Below is the full text of a document published by the
International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) (The Mattress Manufacturers
Association). This document was supplied to a TV station and linked from the
station's website report on poison mattresses.
ISPA severely misstates the facts. Our responses to their
statements are listed below each of their "Facts" and are titled "Real Facts."
MYTHS & FACTS
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has set a new national
flammability standard for mattresses, which went into effect on July 1, 2007.
The new rule addresses mattress fires ignited by open-flame heat sources, such
as lighters, matches, and candles.
About one-third of all mattress fatalities are attributed to mattress fires that
“flashover” from the bedroom to other rooms of the home. The new standard limits
the peak rate of heat that can be released during the initial phase after a
mattress catches fire, thus reducing the risk of flashover and allowing people
more time to escape the fire.
MYTH: Manufacturers apply chemicals to mattresses
FACT: A common technique used today by most mattress producers to meet
the new standard is to encase the cushioning material in a mattress with a
barrier fabric that blocks either heat, oxygen or both from reaching the
cushioning material. These fabrics may be woven, knit or non-woven products.
Mattress producers usually sew the barrier fabric into the mattress between the
outer fabric covering (called “ticking”) and the interior cushioning material.
CPSC has concluded that the new standard will substantially improve product
safety for consumers, estimating that it may eliminate up to 75 percent of the
deaths and injuries that occur annually from mattress fires.
REAL FACTS: Toxic chemicals are applied to mattresses. Often as Ammonium
Polyphosphate applied to the outer ticking, and sometimes as a back coating to
the ticking of a mixture of Antimony Trioxide and Boric Acid. Barrier systems
also often apply chemicals to the barrier such as Boric Acid or Phosphates
and/or use what they call inherently fire resistant fibers. Inherently fire
resistant fibers contain FR chemicals blended into
the fiber itself. For
instance, Modacrylic fibers contain Antimony Trioxide. Many systems contain both
Antimony and Si, which is Silicon (not be confused with Silicone) in the form of Silica Glass. In addition to
the dangers of absorbing poisonous chemicals, inhaling tiny sharp fragmented
glass particles is a probable health hazard, especially with the close chronic
exposure with mattresses. See CPSC Table 1
which shows the percentage of toxic chemicals in various barrier systems.
MYTH: Toxic materials are used to make mattresses less flammable
FACT: Prior to formally issuing the new mattress flammability standard,
the CPSC considered the safety of a number of flame retardant materials and how
consumers might be exposed to those materials when used in mattresses. The CPSC
researched the potential chronic health risks for a number of these materials,
including antimony trioxide, ammonium polyphosphate, boric acid, melamine, and
vinylidene chloride. The CPSC concluded that these materials “are not likely to
present a hazard to consumers, workers, or the environment.”
REAL FACTS: Toxic materials are used and are already known to be acutely
toxic and some are cancer causing as well. The CPSC internal report did conclude
the materials "are not likely to present a hazard." But a closer look at the
report reveals it is severely flawed, and designed to reach a preexisting
conclusion. The report also basically failed independent review. See more
highlighted lines of this report that ISPA claims is proof of safety.
MYTH: Toxic materials in mattresses are easily absorbed by humans
FACT: The CPSC studied possible ways that consumers could be exposed to
the flame retardant materials used in mattresses. The CPSC considered skin
exposure, oral exposure, and inhalation exposure. The CPSC concluded that
consumers who sleep on the mattresses that meet the standard should be exposed
to no appreciable health risks. .”
REAL FACTS: The CPSC report did prove toxic chemicals leach to the
surface of mattresses in substantial quantities and are absorbed by our bodies.
The report errors include that they underestimated the amount we would absorb,
and over estimated the amount safe to absorb. The report admits they had no data
for Antimony skin absorption, so they guessed we would only absorb 2/1'000's of
the Antimony that they measured leached to the surface of mattresses and
contacts our skin. Other research cited by the CDC shows skin applications of
Antimony Trioxide, the exact form used in mattresses, kills rabbits. It seems
Antimony would readily absorb through our skin. Even with this low absorption
assumption the CPSC says we will absorb .8 mg Antimony every night. This
is 27 times more than the EPA says is safe. Many recent news reports show many
sleepers and workers are becoming sick from FR mattresses:
MYTH: Flame retardant mattresses contain roach poison
FACT: Boric acid is one type of flame retardant material, made of the
elements hydrogen, oxygen and boron. Boron is an essential part of a healthy
human diet and is a beneficial ingredient in many multi-vitamin tablets. Boron,
typically in the form of boric acid, is a naturally-occurring element found in
fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. In fact, the average person eats between 1
and 3 milligrams (mg) of boron each day as part of a normal healthy diet. That
is equivalent to about 6 to 17 mg of boric acid. Although boric acid is widely
used as an effective insecticide, boric acid is safe for humans because insects
and humans process boric acid in completely different ways. Based on normal
consumer use patterns, the inhalation, dermal (skin) and oral exposure to boric
acid through contact with mattresses is 1000 times less than EPA’s threshold
level, and is also well below conservative human health criteria established by
the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) within the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services and the National Academy of Sciences
(NAS). In fact, a single six-ounce glass of grape juice contains many times more
boric acid than a consumer would be exposed to from sleeping on a mattress that
meets the new flammability standard.
REAL FACTS: Many flame retardant mattresses do contain roach poison,
usually blended as loose dust with cotton fibers, along with Modacrylic fibers
that contain Antimony Trioxide, in cotton batting barrier systems. Boric Acid is
a commonly used roach poison and is available at many stores nationwide
including Walgreen's. According to CPSC Table 1, all the Boric Acid flame
proofing systems also contain Antimony. Boric Acid is poison to people, single
dose fatal to humans: 2g Children, 5g Adults. 6,463 Americans are poisoned by
Boric Acid every year. (Source: American Association of Poison Control Centers)
http://www.pesticide.org/boricacid.pdf and you will see these quotes: "The
most significant health concerns associated with exposure to boric acid and
borates are their ability to reduce successful reproduction. In laboratory
tests, boric acid has damaged sperm, increased the frequency of prenatal
mortality (miscarriages), reduced birth weight, and caused a variety of birth
defects." "The effect that occurs at the relatively low boric acid
exposures is a reduction in the number of sperm that are capable of moving."
Symptoms reported by people exposed to boric acid used as an insecticide include
itching skin, difficult breathing, headache, tingling lips, lethargy, nausea,
coughing, wheezing, hoarseness, and vomiting. Based primarily on studies of
people exposed to borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) at work, the Agency for
Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded that “irritation of the nose
and throat or eyes can occur if small amounts of boron are breathed in.” The
CPSC report assumed people would absorb only less than 1/10,000's of the Boric
Acid they measured leached to the surface of mattresses and contacts our skin.
Could their inhalation assumptions be wrong? (People who claim to be sick from
flameproof mattresses have reported all of the above symptoms.)
MYTH: The flame retardant materials used in mattresses will increase the
risk of SIDS among children, particularly infants
FACT: The CPSC has concluded that none of the flame retardant materials
it researched will contribute to SIDS. In fact, the CPSC cited a four-year study
conducted in the United Kingdom and reviewed by a number of expert panels in the
UK and the U.S., in which the panels concluded that there is "no credible
evidence" that any of the flame retardant materials included in the CPSC's
review contribute to SIDS.
REAL FACTS: The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study of flame
retardant chemicals for upholstered furniture, ordered by congress for
presentation to the CPSC, cited a European study that proved Antimony leaches
through vinyl on crib mattresses. It also linked this exposure to SIDS as
they found high amounts of Antimony in the livers of dissected dead human
infants. The relationship could not be conclusively proven because infants
were also exposed to other sources of Antimony as a flame retardant from other
products such as carpets. There may be more than one cause of SIDS and experts
can not agree on the cause, but it is well known Antimony accumulates in our
bodies, and that Antimony can kill. Many crib mattresses now contain both Boric
Acid and Antimony to meet the new regulation.
MYTH: Flame retardant mattresses contain materials that aggravate
allergies or asthma in chemically sensitive people
FACT: The CPSC has concluded that there is no evidence to suggest that
exposure to the flame retardant mattress materials it considered would
contribute to or exacerbate allergies, asthma or multiple chemical-sensitivity
in consumers. The CPSC also found that the flame retardant materials under
consideration are generally non-volatile, are not associated with fragrances or
odors, and are not derived from biological materials.
REAL FACTS: People with Asthma have reported they can not tolerate Boric
Acid treated mattresses. Asthma attacks kill thousands of Americans every year.
Dr. Lawrence Plumlee, MD, says. "I know many chemically sensitive people who do
not tolerate treated mattresses, and how many are intolerant who don't know why
they can't sleep or feel bad?" People sick from mattresses have reported symptoms consistent with Boric Acid
exposure known reactions, itching skin, difficult breathing, headache,
tingling lips, lethargy, nausea, coughing, wheezing, hoarseness, and vomiting.
According to the CPSC Table 1 all Boric Acid systems also contain Antimony.
According the the EPA Antimony is 250 times more poisonous than Boric Acid.
Antimony is know to attack the liver and the heart muscle and may cause the
heart to beat irregularly or stop. Antimony is also known to cause reproductive
damage, cancer, and skin rashes. Many people sick from mattresses also report
skin rashes, a known effect of Antimony. Antimony or the Silica Glass could also
cause breathing problems.
MYTH: Mattress manufacturers only supported the federal flammability
standard out of greed
FACT: The industry supported the effort to establish a practical uniform
national standard to avoid confusion at the manufacturing, retail and consumer
levels. Without a consistent standard, production inconsistencies between states
could increase costs for manufacturers, leading to higher mattress prices for
consumers. Manufacturers understand that consumers buy mattresses to get a safe
and restful night’s sleep. Consequently, the industry participated in the
development process of the new standard so that the result would be effective in
improving fire safety, be cost effective and provide consumers with comfortable,
affordable options. The industry remains committed to a wide variety of consumer
education programs to highlight safety initiatives. An information website (www.mattressregulation.org)
was launched to explain the new standard to consumers. Another program focused
on the safety hangtag program. This informational tag, which manufacturers
typically attach to mattresses, warns consumers of potential fire and safety
hazards that can result from the improper use of sleep products. It also offers
guidance for home fire protection and actions that should be taken if a fire
occurs. Life-saving information also reaches consumers through targeted media
campaigns. In addition, the industry regularly collaborates with organizations
that share similar safety concerns. Recent partners include the U.S. Fire
Administration, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of
Pediatrics, the National Candle Association, and the Lighter Association.
REAL FACTS: Federal Law preempts state law. The industry discussed
bringing a law suit in California to stop the California open flame standard
because there was an existing federal flammability standard for mattresses,
cigarette ignition. This could have stopped any state from enforcing another
more strenuous mattress flammability standard. But the industry decided not to
do this. Mark Strobel says he personally called the president of ISPA and asked
what they were doing to fight the pending California mattress fire law. The ISPA
President's response was: "Nothing, in fact the industry had gone to the CPSC
and asked for the same open flame mattress standard to be enacted nationally."
Strobel was shocked! Why would an industry ask for more government regulation?
ISPA's President, in an effort to get Strobel on his side, said: "For one thing
it will help to keep imports out." While no fan of imports either Strobel
quickly realized the financial benefits to the large mattress manufacturers. The
new regulation would raise everyone's costs equally, and lead to higher prices
and profits for all the remaining manufacturers on the same number of units
sold. Plus the substantial testing and compliance costs would force many smaller
competitors out of business, mostly the pesky Mom and Pop factory directs who
have a showroom and make mattresses in the back. This and import limitations
will increase their market share. It becomes easy to see this is probably the
real reason. This what happened, many small mattress manufacturers are now gone,
and while the rest of the furniture industry has suffered along with the housing
market, the big mattress makers have reported large sales and profit gains.
MYTH: Mattress manufacturers add formaldehyde to mattresses to make them
FACT: Formaldehyde is not a flame retardant product. The mattress
industry does not add formaldehyde to mattresses to meet the CPSC’s new
REAL FACTS: Melamine Resin fire resistant fibers, shown in CPSC Table 1,
are made from the reaction of Melamine and Formaldehyde and contain free
Formaldehyde. Here is a quote from a Oct-04 CPSC report by the same authors who
wrote the Jan-06 report justifying the regulation: "Melamine is reacted with
formaldehyde and other non-FR compounds to form fibers that are used to
construct a barrier. Formaldehyde is a known sensitizer, and is also regarded as
a carcinogen. If melamine containing products release formaldehyde,
sensitization (induction and elicitation of symptoms) may result in some
susceptible individuals. Data are needed to determine the conditions for, and
potential releases of formaldehyde from barriers made with melamine/formaldehyde
These same authors knew of the risks of Formaldehyde but did not test for or
mention it in their Jan-06 CPSC report. Formaldehyde concentrations of 10 to 15
parts per million have been found to cause nasal cancer in rats, and in June
2004 the International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified formaldehyde
as a known human carcinogen. Millions of Americans will have their nose right
next to these mattresses for 1/3 of their lives, 10 to 15 parts per million is a
very small number, plus skin absorption.
MYTH: Mattress producers use brominated fire retardant chemicals (the
technical name of which is bromodiphenyloxide (BDEs), specific variations of
which are sometimes called penta brome and deca brome), which may soon be banned
in some states, to meet the new mattress standard
FACT: The International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) knows of no
manufacturers that are using brominated fire retardant chemicals to meet the new
mattress standard. In fact, U.S. production of penta brome stopped in January
REAL FACTS: Finally a true statement. But, these chemicals were used in
millions of mattresses in the past. Now we learned these chemicals are toxic and
being found in people bodies and women's breast milk in growing and alarming
quantities. We already know the chemicals now used in mattresses are acutely
toxic and cancer causing. But we don't seem to learn from past mistakes.
Deca (DBDPO) is one of the three chemicals the CPSC studied and says is
safe for use in mattresses. CPSC Table 1 shows this chemical is used in one
barrier system along with fiberglass, perhaps no manufactures are now using this
system since many scientists now say unsafe and it is being banned some states.
The CPSC has already been proven wrong on the safety of this chemical. What else
will they be proven wrong on after we test our entire population for many years?
MYTH: Mattress producers use the equivalent of arsenic in their
mattresses to meet the new mattress standard
FACT: Mattress producers do not use arsenic or anything equivalent to
arsenic as a fire retardant material in mattresses. In fact, no substances used
to make these fire retardant materials will transform into arsenic. Furthermore,
a review of the toxicity literature shows that the substances used as flame
retardants in mattresses share none of the toxicity characteristics of arsenic.
REAL FACTS: A college chemistry text book tells us: "Antimony is almost
identical to Arsenic, the only difference in its behavior being accounted for by
the fact that Antimony is slightly more metallic than Arsenic." Antimony,
Arsenic, Lead, and Mercury are all heavy metals with health risks. Antimony is a
strong simple poison used since ancient times to knock off rivals. If you look at Wikipedia,
you will see they say: "Clinically,
antimony poisoning is very similar to arsenic poisoning. In small doses,
antimony causes headache, dizziness, and depression. Larger doses cause violent
and frequent vomiting, and will lead to death in a few days."
"Cancer: The State of California has determined under Proposition 65 that
antimony oxide (antimony trioxide) is a carcinogen (CCR, 1996)." [Antimony
Trioxide is the exact form used in mattresses.]
Trioxide accumulates in our bodies. When pressed by TERA, the independent
reviewer of the CPSC risk assessment, about the cancer risk from Antimony
Trioxide the CPSC admits: “The cancer effects are cumulative. Every exposure
contributes to the overall lifetime risk of developing cancer.”
CPSC Table 1 shows most mattress fireproofing systems contain Antimony!
There are no natural or chemical free systems that pass the severe open flame
test, any organic fiber including Rayon, Cotton, and Wool burns. See:
See the facts firsthand in a few highlighted lines of the CPSC internal
report that the mattress manufactures association says is proof these toxic
chemicals are safe in mattresses:
They have clearly proven toxic and cancer causing chemicals leach from
mattresses in substantial quantities and are absorbed by our bodies, every
night. They admit uncertainty, and that they had no data on how much Antimony
absorbs through our skin. Children under age five were specifically excluded
from their study. The CPSC assumed all these young children will sleep on vinyl
sheets, and that this will protect them from the toxic chemicals in their
mattresses. And you will see the report basically failed independent review.
Notice: The statements and questions contained in
this notice are not intended to convey allegations regarding any particular
company, person, or association. Readers should conduct their own investigation
of a company or association or person to ascertain the particular policies,
practices, and motivations of that entity. I have reported what I believe to be
true and correct to the best of my knowledge and opinion at the time of its
writing in a free speech effort to avert a public health disaster.