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Antimony leaching from cot mattresses and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Authors: Jenkins R.O. 1; Craig P.J. 1; Goessler W. 2; Irgolic K.J. 2
Affiliations: 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, Austria


Source: Human & Experimental Toxicology, 1998, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 138-139(0)


reported detectable levels of antimony in liver from both SIDS and other infants.

 Body fluids (urine, saliva) and proprietary domestic detergents/sterilizing fluids markedly enhanced leaching of antimony

 Release of antimony was also enhanced at both low and high pH and by elevated temperature.


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.

 manufacturers began 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 body.

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.