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Report: 72 Percent of Crib Mattresses Contain Suspect Chemicals

Raphaël Büchler

With the American Academy of Pediatrics coming out against crib bumpers and a new, alarming study just released on toxic chemicals in crib mattresses, it might seem that infant sleep has become a dangerous business.

Plus: New AAP Safe Sleep Recommendations

The environmental health advocacy group Clean and Healthy New York revealed the possible dangers lurking in crib mattresses in a survey released yesterday, reports the Washington Post. The group surveyed the 28 companies that make the majority of crib mattresses sold in the U.S. and found: 52 percent of the 190 mattress models examined use chemicals of concern including some antibacterials and flame retardants; 20 percent make some “green claims” like using organic cotton—but still use chemicals of concern; and another 20 percent contained potential allergens, despite not using any suspect or dangerous chemicals. You can see the full results by brand and model here.

Because babies spend up to 16 hours each day in their cribs, Clean and Healthy New York started their investigation of household chemicals with crib mattresses. Researchers have confirmed the importance of removing harmful chemicals in mattresses because they have been linked to common health problems, such as asthma, developmental disabilities, infertility, and cancers.

Plus: Eco-Friendly Baby Products

While Clean and Healthy New York was able to identify a number of harmful materials, what’s most disturbing about this study is the number of unknowns. Many mattress manufacturers declined to list materials used in their products for the survey. The Environmental Protection Agency has tested only 200 of the 80,000 chemicals registered and banned just five, meaning companies have few guidelines they need to follow in terms of chemical content.

Parents especially worried about their baby’s mattress should look into products by Vivetique, White Lotus and Naturepedic, the three companies that make some or all of their mattresses without dangerous chemicals, according to the Clean and Healthy New York survey.

Did you put much thought into buying your baby’s crib mattress? What was the biggest concern for you: price, brand name, organic vs. non-organic, or something else?