Wednesday, February 3, 2016

STOP! Read This Before Buying A New Mattress Or Sofa!

If you have followed this blog you know that today, thanks to recent changes in Californian laws, furniture companies no longer have to use highly toxic flame retardant chemicals (for specifics pertainig to this law please read our blog post Your Guide to Stress Free Flame Retardant Free Furniture Shopping

These changes are actually huge news for the country; as in, open the Champaign, yell at the top of you lungs, do a little dance,  great, huge news!  Finally we can easily buy upholstered furniture without flame retardants!   Finally our home can be a little less toxic.

But can we?   Now that the laws have changed- are flame retardant free furniture and mattresses readily available?  After 40 years of applying these chemicals to everything, are manufacturers changing their ways and looking for non chemical alternatives now that the laws no longer requires them? Is buying flame retardant free furniture or mattresses as simple as walking into a store and choosing any item you like?

This is exactly what the folks at Clean and Healthy New York decided to investigate and they just recently published their findings.

But first, a brief history..... 
Flame retardants.  For my entire lifetime (and then some, since this has been going on for 40 years) flame retardant chemicals have been applied to an increasing number of everyday items.   Everything from furniture to car seats to electronics to mattresses to pijamas and even toys often have flame retardant chemicals applied to them.   

What started as a chemical that perhaps meant well (to slow down the effects of a fire) has been so abused in the last 4 decades that these chemicals are now found in umbilica cord blood of 100% of American babies born today.  Even polar bears in the Artic have flame retardants running through their veins.  In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, over 90% of Americans have flame retardants in our bodies (hmmm wonder were those 10% that dont actually live?).

Why is being exposed to these chemicals not a good thing?

These chemicals have been found to contribute to cancer, infertility, obesity, lowered IQ and learning problems, and other diseases and disorders. Growing scientific evidence shows how these chemicals enter the environment, get into the human body, and can contribute to health problems across a lifetime.

Another problem with these chemicals is that they easily migrate from the product where they have been added to into the dust in your home and eventually into your body; they have been so overused in consumer products and furniture that they have contaminated our homes, our bodies, our children, and the environment we live in.  In fact, young children tend to have higher levels of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies due to their proximity to the floor (they play there, they crawl etc) and the dust on the floor.

The folks at Clean and Healthy New York  contacted the US’s top selling 17 furniture and top 14 adult mattress companies to ask if they have stopped using flame retardant chemicals in their products.  

They found that, yes, many companies have made changes and no longer rely on toxic flame retardant chemicals (Horray for them! We love and thank you!).  Unfortunately, they also found that, as anyone who has recently tried to buy flame retardant free furniture can attest too, it can still be  quite difficult  to know if the furniture you are buying is safe since many company’s are still not disclosing this info online or through customer relations.

More details....

Mattresses: More than half of the mattress makers that provided information, have not removed toxic flame retardants from all products – even though adult mattresses have not legally been required to use flame retardant chemicals for over a decade.  This is a huge let down and a completely unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals 


Serta Simmons

*please note, by definition, organic mattresses do not contain flame retardant chemicals. Organic mattress company's were not contacted for this investigation.
** Like most on this list, Sealy does not specify what they use to meet flammability laws,  they say "Sealy’s fire retardant materials have inherent re-retardant properties. As a result, no chemicals, including halogens or harsh metals, are used in Sealy’s fire-retardant materials." however they do appear on a large list of companies that have received CertiPUR-US  certification  which means they use foam without " PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants, mercury, lead and other heavy metals, Low VOC, nor formaldehyde".  They do use foam and it is important to note that CertiPUR was developed by "members of the global foam industry" 

I still think that the least toxic options for mattresses are (in my order of preference) :
  1. mattresses made of organic wool (these two currently have some of the best prices out there)

 2. mattresses made of natural latex
ie:  SaavyRest:  made of natural latex and uses organic wool as a flame retardant (they have their own line of organic, flame retardant free crib mattresses called SaavyBaby)

3. Some conventional mattress :  It seems some well known companies are cleaning up their act too.  According to the research conducted by Clean and Healthy NY, the 4  mainstream mattress company's  mentioned above might be a good option to consider, especially since they offer much less expensive options than the organic mattress companies.   My only *but* is that I have not seen any proof by an independent (not industry founded) reputable 3rd party to verify that absolutely no flame retardants are ever used.

Furniture: Unlike the mattress industry, a lot of progress has been made in the furniture sector in the short time since the new law has passed.  90% of furniture makers contacted had eliminated these chemicals. However, six leading companies do not have information available on their website or via customer service phone lines, and did not respond to the campaign’s letter . These were: Berhardt, Dorel, Franklin, Heritage Home , Home Maridian, and Lexington.


Bassett (only for domestic products.   International furniture still contains flame retardant chemicals) 
Best Home Furniture
Ethan Allen
Flex Steel

*please note there are other company's not listed that do not use flame retardants in their upholstered furniture.   This particular investigation only contacted the top 17 furniture manufacturers.  More information can be found in our post , Your Guide to Stress Free Flame Retardant Free Furniture Shopping


Although it is getting easier to find furniture and mattresses without flame retardants, this is still far from the norm and thus, as consumers, we still need to ask questions and make sure the item we are taking home is indeed FR free.

Here are some tips, if you plan on Buying furniture or mattresses
  •  Reference this report.  Try to choose from the company’s that have been confirmed to have eliminated flame retardants from their products
  • Look at the labels. Newer models should include a tag that says the product meets the California Flammability Standard TB117-2013, and have a check in a box for “does not contain flame retardant chemicals.” Older models with tags stating they meet TB117 (not 2013) most likely contain toxic flame retardants in the foam.
  • Ask the retailer or company before you purchase a mattress.  If customer service cannot answer the flame retardant question, don’t buy the mattress
  • Damp mop and dust your home to remove contaminants from existing products with flame retardants.  We all have these items at home and dusting constantly is your best line of defense. 

You can read the full report and see all of the results (including what companies are still using flame retardants) on the Clean and Healthy New York website 


  1. This is often associate degree mattress that has 2 separate chambers, one on both sides of the pad. both sides operates severally from the opposite. the simplest factor concerning these airbeds is that you just will simply bring them around, thus it's nearly like lugging your memory foam bed around with you

  2. Because of the Internet, it’s now easy to find information about the things we have at home. As a parent, keeping my children safe from poorly manufactured products is a top priority. For instance, I keep flammable chemicals out of reach of my children. This post made me more cautious in choosing stuff to bring into my home.

    Dylan Lovell @ Mattress Sale Liquidators

  3. It's a relief to know that furniture and mattress companies have done this. While my wife and I have eliminated many toxic products from our home for the sake of our children, I am still concerned about how effective the new flame retardant materials actually are when in use. We don't want items that catch fire quickly.

    Dante Storey @ The Healthy Bed Store

  4. Good work on this post! I really like the way you delivered your qualitative facts and how you made this fascinating and effortless to realize. Thank you!! Click here

  5. Great tips. Thank you so much for the information! With a perfectly soft bed with just the right amount of support, gel memory foam mattress is the best mattress for you.

  6. I totally transformed the sofa AND an ottoman for $200 (ottoman will be coming soon). We are going to go through the steps of stripping the fabric off of the couch and reupholstering the couch.Demir Leather

  7. Begin working on the bottom. Wrap bottom fabric under couch and staple. The staples under the couch will be covered by muslin later. Demir Leather

  8. Champaign - open level countryside

    Champagne - French sparkling wine

  9. I got white paint and white washed mine first and then got the exact stain that you have and did what you said for the Finish. I'm not sure if it's just because of the picture but yours looks more gray. Hometts

  10. I was thinking the other day how old my mattress is and wondering if I should be saving to replace it - but this is a good idea in the meantime to avoid allergies being inflamed! If you more information about it,Please check get more resources