Regulations governing the fire retardant qualities of mattresses sold in the US were revised in 2007, resulting in even more toxic chemicals being added to mattresses, and supposedly for our own good. A blowtorch can be applied directly to the surface of one of these new & improved mattresses, without causing a fire! So what in the world, you ask, are we sleeping on?
Antimony, arsenic, and phosphorus are all added to mattresses, and all of these chemicals form gases that are absorbed into the body. Body heat, as well as microscopic mildew spores and dust mites, all contribute to this off-gasing, or transformation of these poisonous compounds into their gaseous forms.
Keep in mind that there is NO healthy level of antimony in the human body. There is also no mechanism for humans to deal with arsenic compounds, which are therefore quite dangerous. Phosphorus is a component of PVC plastic. The gaseous form of phosphorus, called phosphine gas, has properties resembling mustard gas and sarin nerve agent. Still skeptical?
The dangers of fire retardant compounds are particularly scary in crib mattresses. An extensive article was written by David Denton Davis, MD, titled "The Relationship Between Crib Mattresses and Crib Death", outlining the case that all babies should have a chemical-free mattress to avoid the normal mildew growth in their cribs triggering these poisonous gases and resultant crib death, or SIDS. He presents a fascinating, and frightening, argument for the relationship between SIDS death and the type of mattress a baby sleeps on. If parents cannot afford an organic mattress, he recommends a product called "Babe Safe", which is a polyethylene mattress cover, to protect the child from these gases. (Read more at www.criblife2000.com)
There's an excellent question and answer page here that explains more about why it is worth the added expense to purchase an organic crib mattress for your baby.
Of course, older children also absorb dangerous substances from their mattresses. It is estimated that a 5 year old child absorbs 63 times the EPA's safety limit of antimony each night! Adults also absorb poisons from their unhealthy mattresses, and data shows that some of these chemicals, called PBDE's, find their way into the organs of unborn fetuses and breastmilk.
I can personally recommend the Organic Grace website because I've purchased from them myself. In addition to the products they sell, there are many informative articles and information like the following quote. "In adults the nightly breathing in of these toxins may cause nausea, watering eyes, runny noses, headaches, respiratory problems, impaired learning and memory (ADHD?), birth defects, liver, kidney, brain and heart muscle damage. People with allergies, asthma, and other preexisting conditions are at even greater risk."
Boric acid is another flame retardant compound found in mattresses. It is also used in ant and roach killer. The average mattress can have up to 2 cups of flame retardant chemicals poured on or embedded into it, and we spent a third of our lives asleep, inhaling these toxic chemicals in our beds. Worse yet, manufacturers of mattresses claim these chemical cocktails as trade secrets and are not required to divulge their exact contents. So you really don't know what you're sleeping on!
Organic mattresses are made from natural materials like organic cotton, wool, and natural rubber. Buying an organic mattress is a very basic and simple way to eliminate a huge source of chemical exposure in your life, and very well worth the extra cost.