The Princess and the P.B.D.E.s (Polybrominated Dipheynl Ethers)

Ever wondered about potential toxins lurking in your child's mattress?

If so, you're not alone. Walter Bader, a sufferer of multiple chemical sensitivity since his boyhood walks down the detergent aisle with his mother, thinks mattresses are downright dangerous. Hence his 2007 book,"Toxic Bedrooms: Your Guide to a Safe Night's Sleep."

Blogger and writer Debora Lynn Dadd believes beds deliver more toxic exposure than anything else in people's daily lives.

Sure, the thought has entered my mind several times as I changed the crib sheets - the standard crib mattress smelling like a swirling concoction of carcinogens and other industrial chemicals. I've aired them out for days and days hoping, perhaps in vain, to release some of the the unpleasant odors if not poisonous vapors. No wonder Julie Scelfo laid out the issue of toxic and green mattresses in "Stuffing Dreams Are Made Of" in Thursday's The New York Times - the story with the photos of the cuter than cute baby, the eco-mattresses made with, among other "green" items - soy beans, aloe and green tea. Beautiful photo lay-out.

So what do we know? There's a variety of alternative mattresses out there. Yes, you can even buy one relatively cheaply thanks to Ikea. Yes, they're unregulated for the most part. No, we don't know what's in all of them. Hmmm.

But is this all necessary? This belaboring our bedding?

Some scientists aren't particularly troubled by the springs and stuffing and such beneath us at night. Even the greenier experts amongst us like a biophysical chemist and director of an environmental institute in that green haven, Berkeley, California. The one who said the hoopla over organic mattresses was "a marketing ploy". Gotta love that.

And what about the science? You know I was looking for the scientific evidence in that article. One measly 2004 animal study implicating P.B.D.E.s (a fire retardant used in foam mattresses) in neurological and reproductive changes. That's it in a nearly three page article. One study described in one sentence.


Not much to go on. You might want to investigate a bit more before buying that super expensive all-natural sleep system. Just a thought.

Or if you're really worried and not up for a new mattress, you can do like Ms. Dadd who slept on folded up organic cotton blankets atop a metal frame and swore it was really comfortable.

Until I have more solid evidence I guess my no-doubt eco-unpleasant pillow-top will have to do.
And I'd love to know what's worse for asthmatic, allergy-prone folks such as myself. The all-organic cotton and wool mattress or the all-synthetic one? Couldn't supress the tickle in my nose looking at the cut-away of the wool one...just another thought.

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