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Man who wrote and started law to flameproof mattresses now having second thoughts, we should too

Whitney Davis, an Attorney and Director of the Children’s Coalition for Fire Safe Mattresses, wrote and started the law to flameproof mattresses in California. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) will enact this law nationwide within the year.

Mr. Davis is now realizing that manufacturers are using toxic chemicals to flameproof mattresses to meet this law. In a recent news release he stated: “… The Problem: the only chemicals they can use to achieve compliance are listed as toxic to humans by the EPA.” ( In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article on the issue Whitney Davis is quoted as saying:

"You don't know until 10 years down the road and there's a problem," he said. "We feel responsible."

With our entire population, 300 Million People, sleeping on mattresses, all mattresses must be safe for human exposure. Our exposure in mattresses is unique. We have full body and breathing contact eight hours a day for the rest of our lives. It is unacceptable for even a small percentage of mattresses to be toxic. If only 15% prove toxic, it affects 45 Million people. If only 1%, it is still 3 Million people harmed.

It would be wonderful to save 300 people annually from fire as proponents hope. But we must also consider the risk. We don’t want to kill more than we save. We are putting one million people at risk to save one. This law has the potential to harm millions of people. While not everyone was exposed to Asbestos, we learned too late it has a 40-year latency period to detect poisoning. It has already killed 300,000 people. Experts expect it will continue to kill 10,000 people per year for the next twenty-five years.

Chemical barrier systems are used at the surface of mattresses to prevent ignition from open flames. Systems include a fertilizer called Ammonium Polyphosphate that is sprayed on the ticking; Boric Acid (Roach Killer) mixed as loose dust with cotton batting just under the ticking; Antimony Oxide in Modacrylic Fibers which the CPSC calls ‘moderate risk,’ but says Antimony may be released with perspiration; and “Polymerized Resins” made from the reaction of melamine and formaldehyde which the CPSC calls ‘low risk.’ It contains a small amount of free formaldehyde and more may be released over time as all things break down. Fiberglass is the only inherently flame retardant fiber that can pass this flame test without added chemicals. Experts say we should not breathe tiny fiberglass particles and consider it as bad as Asbestos. We know these chemicals are incredibly toxic to people and some also cause cancer, how do we justify sleeping in them?

A new scientific report – March 2005, gives us even more warnings: “The developing fetus and young child is particularly vulnerable to certain environmental toxins. …
Over the past three decades, researchers have found that remarkably low-level exposures to these toxins are linked with less overt symptoms of toxicity—intellectual impairments, behavioral problems, spontaneous abortions, or preterm births

Even if safe systems exist, all mattresses must be safe or this law should be stopped in the CPSC and repealed in California. It defies common sense to expose our entire population to even low or moderate risk to save a very few. The CPSC admits they have no exposure data and are guessing about the safety of these systems, yet it will soon become national law. More study is needed. Just because California passes a law without considering the risks does not mean it is good for the nation. The risk outweighs the benefit.