People For Clean

People fighting to keep our mattresses and bedding clean from toxic flame retardant chemicals
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Table of Chemicals Used
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Antimony Linked to SIDS
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Fight History

Since 2003 Mark Strobel, a specialty mattress manufacturer in business for 30 years, has led the fight against the flameproof mattress law. After learning about toxic flame retardants being found in women's bodies and breast milk Mark became concerned about the chemicals required in mattresses to meet the new law. He called the president of the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA, the innerspring mattress manufacturers association) and asked what they were doing to fight the pending California law. The association president told him they were doing nothing and the members supported the law. He added, ISPA went to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and asked them to enact the same flameproof mattress law nationally. Mark was shocked. Why he asked? Why would an industry ask for more government regulation? The association president told him among other things that it would help keep imports out. While no fan of imports Mark quickly realized it would do far more than hurt imports, it would hurt small mattress manufacturers with testing and compliance costs, and it would help the big companies with more revenue on the same number of units sold. It was a win-win for the big boys and about money, not fire safety.

After being unable to find a chemical free and safe system to flameproof his mattresses Strobel became concerned. The more he researched the issue the more concerned he became. Everyone sleeps on a mattress and this is close chronic exposure unparalleled in any other FR chemical use. We have made toxic mistakes in the past. If we years later find human harm, it could be catastrophic. Strobel realized no one was going to fight this law. With his unique knowledge of the industry he also realized that if anyone was going to fight the issue it had to be him.

In the fall of 2003 Strobel purchased a list of 15,000 news media and sent out a press release on the issue. It got little response. He posted the press release and links to studies of the harmful effects of flame retardants on his company website He also posted links to where people could find and write their legislators on the issue. He sent emails to all the California legislators warning of the risks and asking for the state law to be repealed. He sent emails to the US Congress. No response. He continued emailing and faxing 15,000 news media with different appeals on the issue every couple of months, and also sending these to key people at the CPSC.  In the summer of 2004 Mark decided he needed some allies and solicited comments from medical doctors. Doctors are reluctant to say anything but he finally got some comments from leading doctors in environmental medicine, Rapp and Lieberman, and later Plumlee plus many other M.D.'s and D.C.'s

In the fall of 2004 Mark decided to risk his company's reputation in the industry and appeal to Furniture and Mattress Retailers. He faxed and emailed 17,192 furniture retailers about the issue. He got over 100 responses in votes and comments against the law on the website. It created a stir in the industry and within five days ISPA sent a memo to its member mattress manufacturers on how to respond to retailer questions on the issue. This also generated an article in the furniture trade press of Strobel vs. ISPA. Unfortunately ISPA responded that there was all kinds of testing on this chemical use and it was proven safe, this was simply not true. They claimed Antimony is chemically bound to the Modacrylic fibers and could not be released, the recent CPSC report proves this false. They claimed Boric Acid could not be released from the mattress, again proven false by the CPSC. And they somehow said Boric Acid is not toxic to humans! Unfortunately ISPA, Sealy, and Serta are more believable than Mark Strobel. So Strobel decided to take a different approach.

In January 2005 Mark Strobel put up the website and started the group This and word of mouth generated over 500 public comments against the law sent to the CPSC before the public comment period expired on 3-14-05. Normally the CPSC would only receive about twenty comments from interested parties on most issues. Meanwhile Strobel continued to send news releases to 15,000 media throughout the year. Strobel also send bottles of Boric Acid Roach Killer to the President of the United States, the Governor of California, and a few editors of major news media. One of these was the San Francisco Chronicle and this generated an article on 3-2-05. After the CPSC posted the public comments in 17 pdf files comprising over 1300 pages it caught the eye of the Washington Post. The Post ran an article quoting Strobel titled "Fire Resistant Mattresses Ignite Fear of Chemicals" on 5-17-05, and the article was reprinted by many newspapers across the country. Other newspapers and radio stations have reported the story across the country throughout 2005. Strobel has appeared in four TV news stories in different cities with the most recent being in San Diego on 2-16-06 in a story titled "Is Your Mattress Killing You Softly? Chemical in Mattresses Could Be Toxic."

Throughout 2005 both and generated an additional 300 votes and comments against the law since the public comment period closed, which Strobel forwarded the CPSC. Strobel continued to research the issue and says he learned something new and more alarming almost every week, sending this information to the CPSC. The CPSC response was to audit Strobel for compliance with the 1973 cigarette ignition law for mattresses. They even secretly purchased at retail a Strobel mattress for over a thousand dollars to test. Perhaps they were trying to get him? But Strobel's mattresses comply with the law and pass the cigarette test without chemicals.

Also in 2005 Strobel visited the California capitol and met with some key people in the legislature. He told them the California law is technically invalid because it was preempted by federal mattress flammability law for cigarette ignition. A stroke of a judge's pen could stop the law. Strobel also collected the emails of 4,000 California attorneys and legal aid organizations and wrote them asking for help to stop the law. He received many sympathetic replies to the issue, but all informed him they were busy with other issues and could not help. Now it does not matter because we have a national law.

In January 2006 the CPSC posted their Risk Assessment of Flameproof Mattresses, draft of final law, and response to public comments. Strobel analyzed these documents and found many problems. But, their Risk Assessment proves everything proves everything Strobel has been trying to say: New flameproof mattresses do contain acutely toxic and cancer causing chemicals, and these chemicals do migrate through the surface of our mattresses and are absorbed by our bodies every day. You can see these problems detailed on the websites and in the link "Risk Assessment Details." Strobel sent these pages to key people at the CPSC and the news media. Strobel worked hard to stop the regulation by sending emails, faxes, letters, and making phone calls to the CPSC up until two days before they passed the law on 2-16-06. Strobel mistakenly thought he had a chance to stop the law. Now the chance of getting the law repealed is probably impossible. The only thing that might happen is to get one chemical banned, only to find years later it is other chemicals that prove toxic.

All we can do now is to offer prescription beds free of toxic chemicals to those lucky few who learn the truth about the acutely toxic chemicals in flameproof mattresses.