Back in the 1970s, consumers were shocked to learn that a flame retardant called Tris had been contaminating children’s pajamas with toxic chemicals. Clothing manufacturers stopped using it when the risk became publicized, but it was never officially banned in the U.S.
Now a report from Duke University shows that in recent tests, eight out of 10 commonly-sold baby products contain high levels of the retardant, long suspected as a carcinogen and linked to brain damage in infants and young children. More than a third of the products – all of which contained polyurethane foam – also tested positive for penta-PBDEs, neurotoxins that were banned in 2004 when it was found that toddlers with high levels of them had lower IQs and reduced motor skills. (Chemical flame retardants are typically added directly into polyurethane-foam mixtures, rather than applied to finished products, to meet flammability requirements.)
Products tested in this case included car seats, changing pads, and baby carriers, but polyurethane foam is also used widely in the manufacture of both crib and adult-sized mattresses and bedding.
Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, called the Duke findings a “wake-up call” for parents and manufacturers – and we agree.
“I am concerned about not only cancer,” Birnbaum says, “but reproductive or neurological effects as well – the developing brain.” Could there be any more urgent issue for parents or anyone concerned with the well-being of children?
Chemical companies, of course, continue to claim that their products are safe, and manufacturers defend their use (“protecting children is Evenflo’s number one priority…[we use chemicals to] meet mandatory federal and state flammability requirements”). It’s the same old story, bringing to mind cigarette manufacturers’ claims that smoking wasn’t a health threat until forced by government agencies to admit the danger.
There’s a safer alternative, of course: mattresses and other products made from CERTIFIED ORGANIC MATERIALS. Lifekind uses Texas-grown certified-organic cotton, 100%-natural rubber latex made from USDA-certified organic sap, and wool grown in California for flammability protection, PERIOD. Anything less is putting your own safety and the safety of your family at risk.
As a result of the study, Duke lead researcher Heather Stapleton told reporters she’s ridding her home of products that contain polyurethane foam and replacing them with safer products. Shouldn’t we all be doing the same?
I love my dog; a sentiment felt by most pet owners, I’m sure. He stinks, snores and chews pillows if he’s left alone too long, but he’s also loyal, trusting, and a great running buddy. He’s always there to listen to my problems, and he never talks back. My dog makes me feel special just for coming home at the end of the day.
Because I love my dog, my world was rocked when I took him to the vet for what looked very much like a tumor. It turned out to be an allergic reaction to a vaccine, but it caused me to spend a good amount of time researching cancer in dogs. Rocky is a Boxer, and as I found out, Boxers are particularly susceptible to cancer and stomach diseases. Since I would prefer he didn’t get either of these unpleasant conditions, I need to be very careful about the products I give him.
It turns out that cancer is rapidly increasing in dogs, and is now responsible for 46% of disease-related deaths. Prevention seems pretty straightforward; good, wholesome food and natural products…much like for people.
Lifekind has wonderful pet beds that are made from the same organic materials that our “people” mattresses and bedding are made from. I hadn’t realized how important this is until I came home one day to a yard full of a substance I later titled “radioactive fluff.” Honestly, that’s the best way to describe the mystery material that had been inside the pet bed Rocky had decided that day was a chew toy. It was blue, had the consistency of fiberglass, and I’m pretty sure it could glow in the dark. Whatever the stuff was, it wasn’t healthy, and it put me in the market for an organic pet bed.
I think I owe it to my dog to take the best care of him that I can. He trusts me, after all, to not knowingly have him eating chemicals and sleeping on radioactive fluff beds. It’s hard sifting through all the marketing claims and mystery ingredients put into modern pet food, toys, etc., but I think it’s worth it because, not to sound repetitive, I love my dog.