The Mattress Still Matters: Executive Summary
A report by Clean and Healthy New York, the Ecology Center, and Getting Ready for Baby
There’s nothing that new parents care about more than keeping their babies healthy. Much care goes into picking diapers, car seats, clothes—and crib mattresses.
No parent wants those carefully chosen items to include chemicals that could increase the likelihood that their child might face lifelong health challenges like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, learning and developmental disabilities, and asthma.
Parents should be confident that items made for babies are free of such harmful chemicals, but that is too often not the case.
How are product makers doing at prioritizing our health and the environment? To find out, we have zoomed in to focus on crib mattresses, because babies sleep up to 18 hours each day, and their crib is the place they spend most of their time.
The Mattress Still Matters, a follow-up to a 2011 report, The Mattress Matters, investigates what companies disclose about the materials they choose and how that compares to laboratory analysis of mattresses. We assess what we can learn about mattresses in specific, and the broader market- place in general.
We reviewed 227 product webpages from 37 crib mattress brands to determine what we could learn about the materials they use. We sent that information to companies for their review and feedback. 13 mattresses from 13 different brands were then analyzed with laboratory tests to compare company disclosures with the chemicals detected.
FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS
Two mattresses by SealyTM without disclosed chemicals of concern are available for less than $100:
- EverLiteTM 2-Stage crib mattress $99
- Premier PostureTM 2-Stage crib mattress $99.
Ten mattresses from six brands don’t rely on petroleum and avoid all chemicals of concern. They are made by Lifekind®, Naturepedic®, Obasan, OMI®, Soaring Heart, and White Lotus Home.
Additionally, company information indicates that 19 products from five companies are free of vinyl, polyurethane foam, added flame retardants, PFAS, antimicrobials, or added minerals: Lullaby EarthTM, My Green Mattress, Naturepedic®, Oeuf, and SealyTM.
HOW TRANSPARENT ARE COMPANIES?
- 35% of those surveyed—10 companies— provided information about each major component of their mattresses.
- 13% provided information about most of those major components.
- A majority of companies—52% did not disclose most or all of their materials. 22% of companies had significant gaps on their websites.
- Only 4 of the 13 items we tested matched test results and information provided by companies.
CHEMICALS OF CONCERN FINDINGS
- Brands reported vinyl in 27% of their crib mattress covers. Of the 13 tested, six were made of vinyl, and all six contained plasticizers.
- PFAS chemicals were disclosed for nine products from three companies, and testing found additional PFAS in mattresses made by Nook*, Safety 1st®*, and Colgate Mattress.
- One company, Newton Baby® reported adding a phosphorus-based flame retardant (FRs) chemical to their core and we confirmed that through testing. Another, Bloom Baby reported an ammonium polyphosphate FR layer.
- Our testing identified nine mattresses that contained indications of FRs: four had combinations of bromine, chlorine and phosphorus. Five con- tained antimony at relatively high levels.
- Two-thirds of brands now report using flame barriers, and 12% of mattresses are designed without barriers or additives. Two FR barriers and two vinyl covers we tested contained antimony. One company uses modacrylic barriers.
- Seven companies make claims about antimicrobial properties. One uses silver, one quaternium compounds, one a zinc-based solution, and four don’t say what imparts that property.
We identified three strong independent “third party” certifications, which address a broad range of chemicals of concern with stringent standards:
- MADE SAFE®
- Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
Crib mattress brands use four additional independent certifications with narrower scopes: OEKO- TEX®, UL GREENGUARD®, UL GREENGUARD® Gold, UL Formaldehyde Free.
Be wary of “second party” trade association certifications: for example, the Polyurethane Foam Association-created CertiPUR-US® is based on meeting legal requirements; JPMA’s in-house standard does not address harmful chemicals.
- Parents should check for specific information about materials from brands, choose strong certifications, avoid chemicals of concern, and urge brands and retailers to take action.
- Child care providers should talk with brands and vendors they use to purchase mattresses to avoid chemicals of concern and urge companies to screen out harmful chemicals for all products.
- Manufacturers and brands should redesign products to avoid the chemicals of concern in products at all prices, have this verified by strong independent certifications, and make product descriptions thoroughly disclose all chemicals and components.
- Retailers should set chemical policies that include the chemicals of concern in this report, verify compliance through testing, and display full product information. All mattresses offered, regardless of price, should be made of safer materials.
- Elected officials should ban chemicals of concern, especially PFAS and flame retardants.
*The specific products we tested from Nook (Pebble Lite) and Safety1st® (Little Dreamer) are now discontinued.
Page last updated: 23 July 2020