Quotes from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) draft proposal of this new law to flameproof mattresses, statements on health risks. The CPSC document is 381 pages broken down into 6 pdf files and linked below. I urge you to read page 17, and pages 132-169 of the CPSC report. Only 38 pages or 10% of this document are related to health effects of this law.
“Exposure data for antimony, boric acid/zinc borate, and decabromodiphenyl oxide are needed before more definitive conclusions about the potential risk of adverse health effects from these chemicals can be made.”
From page 17 of CPSC, http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia05/brief/mattressespt1.pdf
"CPSC staff has previously provided its opinion that boric anhydride and boric acid are acutely toxic, ... Moreover, it is staff's opinion that boric acid falls within the CPSC's chronic toxicity guidelines issued under the FHSA. It is a probable reproductive and developmental toxicant in humans, based upon sufficient animal data." (Page 148)
[These chemicals that are not yet considered safe are already in millions of mattresses.]
“ Antimony is regarded as a possible inhalation carcinogen. … There is limited data to suggest that antimony may be released from a polymer matrix. … The results of the limited testing suggest that antimony may be released in measurable quantities from a polymer matrix. … the amount of antimony found in a barrier is expected to be higher than in the polyester fabrics … The amount of antimony migrating from treated barriers is expected to be higher as well.” [Antimony Oxide is not chemically bound and could enter our bodies and harm us.]From page 166, http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia05/brief/mattressespt3.pdf
"Dermal administration in rabbits caused systemic toxicity and even death (Fleming, 1938; Myers et al., 1978). Death was observed in rabbits after a single dermal application of 6.7g/kg in corn oil. ... Fleming et al. (1938) reported systemic toxicity and death after 5-8 days of daily application of dermal applications of an unspecified dose in a paste of artificial acidic or alkaline sweat." (Page 138)[Danish Environmental Protection Agency testing revealed Antimony was released from Modacrylic fibers with sweat. (page 163)] "One human occupational study reported reproductive effects. Menstral cycle disturbances, early interruption of pregnancy, and increased incidence of spontaneous late abortions ... (Belyaeva, 1967) page 140.
This law might save at most one out of one million people. This fire safety law is presumed to save up to 300 lives per year, after 10 to 14 years, after all existing mattresses are replaced. With three hundred million people in the united states this is one out of a million. There are 3000 fire deaths each year and the chemical industry estimates up to 960 are saved by the 1.2 billion pounds of flame retardant chemicals we currently use annually in the US. It may be a high estimate that we will save 10% of the fire deaths from chemicals in mattresses alone. Every life is important but we must also consider the risks. This will expose our entire population to sleeping in known toxic chemicals for the rest of our lives.
The following is from page 17 of CPSC, http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia05/brief/mattressespt1.pdf
“Therefore, exposure and risk must be considered in addition to toxicity when assessing potential hazards under the FHSA (CSPC, 1992) …
[Exposure and risk must be given more weight than it is getting now. I can’t think of a worse chemical exposure than the close and intimate contact of mattresses breathing and absorbing these chemicals eight hours a day for the rest of our lives.]
“Data on potential exposures to FR chemicals does not exist. Because of the lack of exposure data a quantitative risk assessment could not be made. Instead, staff conducted a qualitative assessment of the potential risk of health effects from exposure to FR chemicals that may be incorporated to meet the draft proposed standard based on an assessment of available toxicity data, knowledge of how FR chemicals might be used in mattresses, and staff’s professional judgment.”
[In other words they are guessing. (‘qualitative assessment’ ‘professional judgment’) They are guessing about exposing our entire population to known toxic chemical that we will sleep in for the rest of our and our children’s lives.]
[This points to the urgent need for independent scientific risk assessments for any and all of the chemicals that will be used in mattresses to meet this law. A professional scientific ‘Risk Assessment’ will consider the amount of chemical and type and duration of exposure. They will also consider special populations of infants, children, pregnant mothers, fetuses, elderly, people with bedsores, skin rashes, asthma, pre-existing conditions, as well as healthy male and female adults. The lack of scientific quantitative data to prove these chemicals are safe to sleep in would likely cause an independent scientific reviewer to recommend against this chemical use in mattresses.]
The staff believes there are fire retarding methods (e.g., FR-treated barriers) available to mattress manufacturers that are expected to present only a negligible risk of adverse health effects in consumers. This staff opinion is based on the use of polymerized melamine compounds (resins) and vinylidene chloride in the manner described by the manufacturers of the barriers containing these compounds. Exposure data for antimony, boric acid/zinc borate, and decabromodiphenyl oxide are needed before more definitive conclusions about the potential risk of adverse health effects from these chemicals can be made.”
[Exactly what is ‘negligible risk’? 1 in 10,000, 1in 100,000, 1 in 500,000. This fire law will save at most one in one million people, after ten to fourteen years, when all existing mattresses are replaced, and everyone is exposed. Which is the greater risk?]
[What about the millions of people sleeping in unsafe chemical systems?]
[Another problem with these statements is that they say vinylidene chloride is safe while antimony is not. Later in this document they point out that vinylidene chloride barrier systems also contain antimony. How then is this system safe?]
“CPSC staff will continue to obtain information on the possible techniques the manufacturers will likely use to meet the draft proposed standard, including the specific FR chemicals that will be used, and the amounts applied to specific mattress components. CPSC staff is planning migration/exposure assessment studies on treated mattress components to obtain data needed to quantify the amount of FR chemical that may be released from these mattress components. These data can then be used to more reliably estimate the potential health risks associated with the use of FR chemicals in mattresses.”
[Why has this not been done before this standard is proposed? Millions of people are already sleeping in these chemicals. I hope they get this done before this law is passed. It seems CPSC staff is being pressured to rush this law through without adequately considering the risks.]
[I would suggest that when a boric acid mattress is tested that there be a simulated ageing of the mattress to dry out any oils that hold the boric acid powder in place. Perhaps bake it a 150 degrees for a few days or weeks to simulate ageing. Then be sure to agitate the mattress to simulate body movements that push the dead air space inside the innerspring mattress through its surface carrying boric acid dust to the surface for us to breathe and absorb. Then do measurements.]
[How can you accurately predict risks of seventy or more years of close chronic chemical exposure?]
The above is from page 17 of CPSC, http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia05/brief/mattressespt1.pdf
Below pages 132 to 169 review the health risks and review the known science.
http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia05/brief/mattressespt3.pdf I urge you to read these pages. I also urge CPSC staff involved in this law to reread these pages.
Page 143 begins a review of Boric Acid and should be noted that much of the science from the 90’s is not included. The EPA toxic review from June 2004 is also not included. http://www.epa.gov/iris/toxreviews/0410-tr.pdf
Page 147 notes, “No reports of neurological effects were found for boric acid.” I think the EPS June 2004 report referenced some. I have seen reports referenced in the ATSDR 1992 report and this report concluded: “Neurological damage is an area of concern following boron exposure.” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp26-c2.pdf
I have read Boric Acid accumulates in soft tissue and has a half-life of 21 hours, and that it also accumulates in bone with a much longer half-life. Since we are not exposed only 16 hours a day while we are out of our mattress, will a low dose accumulate over months or years?
Exposure assessment begins on page 162
Comments show CPSC is relying on the mattress ticking and mattress pads to reduce chemical exposure.
On page 168, “melamine is reacted with formaldehyde … Formaldehyde is a known sensitizer, and is also regarded as a carcinogen. If melamine-containing products release formaldehyde, sensitization (induction and elicitation of symptoms) may result in some susceptible individuals. … Staff believes that the mattress ticking should provide a barrier that reduces the potential for contact sensitization.”
Our office has had numerous people call and ask about formaldehyde in mattresses as they have very severe reactions from even distant contact. How many people are sensitive to formaldehyde? Is it over a million?
In a 381 page report there are only 38 pages devoted to health risks. We need to be very careful that in our zeal to save a small number from fire that we don’t poison our entire population.
I hope CPSC staff will be diligent in assessing health risks. Again I ask for independent ‘Risk Assessments.’ With enough diligence they may conclude that the risk of exposing our entire population to known toxic chemical in mattresses outweighs the benefit.
People expect the CPSC will protect us, not poison us.
Here are all the links to this document: