Antimony leaching from cot
mattresses and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Jenkins R.O. 1; Craig P.J. 1; Goessler W. 2;
Irgolic K.J. 2
1: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Faculty of Applied
Sciences, Leicester LE1 9BH, UK 2: Institute for Analytical
chemistry, Karl Franzens Universität Graz, Universitätsplatz 1, 8010 Graz,
Human & Experimental Toxicology, 1998, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 138-139(0)
detectable levels of antimony in liver from both SIDS and other infants.
fluids (urine, saliva) and proprietary domestic detergents/sterilizing
fluids markedly enhanced leaching of antimony
of antimony was also enhanced at both low and high pH and by elevated
In the 1980s the British
Government had required manufacturers to include a fire retardant in cot
mattresses, and had approved antimony trioxide for the purpose. … which
caused thousands of cot deaths.
Research carried out
in 1994 showed that post mortem body tissue of cot death babies contained
many times more antimony than tissue of babies who had died of other causes.
These chemicals were
first introduced into cot mattresses in the early 1950s, and the British cot
death rate increased steadily from that time onwards. (In fact the term "cot
death" was coined in 1954 as a result of the marked increase in the number
of such deaths.)
The highest cot death
rate in Britain (2.3 deaths per 1000 live births in 1986-1988) coincided
with the highest concentration of antimony in cot mattresses. The British
Government had required a fire retardant to be incorporated in cot
mattresses by 1988.
to remove antimony from mattresses.
Regardless of any debate
of the cause of SIDS, some things remain clear:
Antimony is found in the
livers of infants.
Antimony is a very
popular flame retardant chemical used in thousands of products, either
alone, or in conjunction with other FRC's. It could enter our bodies through
both mattresses and other sources.
Recent science has found
growing and dangerous amounts of flame retardant chemicals (PBDE's) in
women's bodies and breast milk, and we have no idea how it is entering the
Antimony does leach out
of mattresses and vinyl that has Antimony added as a flame retardant.
The National Academy of
Science in a report called "Toxicological Risks of Selected Flame-Retardant
Chemicals (2000)" warns that Antimony may not be safe to use on upholstery
for human exposure.
Antimony is very
poisonous, and linked to SIDS and Cancer.
How can proponents claim
Antimony will not leach out of mattresses or Modacrylic Fibers, and that it
is safe in mattresses?
We should heed the
warnings of the British experience and our own science.