Thursday, April 24, 2014

Engineers confirm crib mattresses emit potentially harmful chemicals

In what they say is a first-of-its-kind study, a team of environmental engineers from The University of Texas at Austin has found that infants are indeed exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from crib mattresses while they sleep.

Analyzing the foam padding in crib mattresses, the team found that the mattresses release significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), potentially harmful chemicals also found in household items such as cleaners and scented sprays.

The researchers studied samples of polyurethane foam and polyester foam padding from 20 new and old crib mattresses. 

The researchers found:
  • New crib mattresses release about four times as many VOCs as old crib mattresses.
  • Body heat increases emissions.
  • Chemical emissions are strongest in the sleeping infant's immediate breathing zone.
The 20 mattress samples are from 10 manufacturers. The researchers say they chose not to disclose the names of the manufacturers studied so that their results could draw general attention to the product segment without focusing on specific brands.

The researchers reported their findings in the February issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

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