Here's Why Your Mattress Is Making You, Your Children, And Pets Sick!

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Every night when you drift off to sleep, you never give a thought to the dangers of your mattress. You trust that your bed -- the place you spend eight to twelve hours a day, is safe. It doesn't occur to you that your bed could be making you sick.

Think again. AutoImmune disease is the rising epidemic of the Western world and according to the shocking and thought-provoking book, The Autoimmune Epidemic your mattress may be to blame.

If you've got children it's important to read this. 

You don't realize the simple exposures you encounter everyday. Your dry cleaning, drinking water, fluoride toothpaste, your new car smell, your flame-retardant foam mattress and your 'memory foam" couch are all contaminants! 

So is your comfy bed by the way.

To explain, "U.S. bedding materials have a flame-retardant known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. These PBDEs are chemicals that manufacturers use to mix or coat almost every single product that surrounds you. Consider what you sit on throughout the day:  chairs, mattresses, pillows, cars, sofas -- these are all chemically treated. Incidentally, airline seats, airline plastic and fabric interiors are drenched in flame retardants in order to meet safety standards. Add footwear, the insulation in your walls, the plastic on your computer, video monitor, cell phone and TV --  all of these have been made with parts soaked in and manufactured with PBDEs."  (Autoimmune Epidemic, pp. 89)

Then there's flame resistant children's pajamas. The flame-retardant scare began in the 1970s - a time where people smoked in bed, were less vigilant with their children and more susceptible to fear-mongering by companies pushing flame retardant products. 

Rest easy. the Environmental Working Group says, "children’s pajamas are no longer treated with chemical fire retardants. However, as a precaution choose snug-fitting pajamas made from natural fibers that are inherently fire resistant. And, of course, keep kids away from matches, candles and cigarettes."

A non-peer-reviewed study of 20 mother-child pairs in the United States conducted by the EWG found that the median blood levels of PBDEs in children (62 parts per million) were 3.2 times higher than their mothers.  Studies show that exposures to PBDEs impairs development of the nervous system.  PBDEs have hormone-disrupting effects in particular, on estrogen and thyroid hormone and may even effect the thyroid levels in your pet. 

Where exactly is our toxic exposure coming from?  Here are 10 items in your home that may contain PBDEs: 

  1. Polyurethane foam products – upholstered furniture, mattresses, pillowsComputers, printers, copiers, scanners, faxes
  2. Carpet padding
  3. Toner cartridges
  4. Vehicle seat covers
  5. TVs and TV remote controls
  6. Kitchen appliances
  7. Video equipment
  8. FansBlow dryers
  9. Water heaters
  10. Cell phones

That Tempur-Pedic mattress you just invested in? It's got PBDEs! Memory Foam is being called 'Bury-me foam" because it's exposure can dramatically shorten your life and expose your pets and children who cuddle with you. Have allergies, chemical sensitivity, asthma, lung sensitivities? Have these worsened since you got your Tempur-Pedic?  If you're pregnant be particularly cautious about exposure to PBDEs and their impact fetal to development.

Be hyper-vigilant if you're shopping for a mattress. To avoid PBDEs: 

  • Do not buy flame-retardant products for children such as changing pads, nap pads, car seats, pajamas, etc.
  • Do not buy furniture with "Memory Foam" even if its at an incredible discount.
  • Avoid foam carpet padding. Use caution when removing old carpet.
  • Invest in organic bedding and mattresses  (especially for babies and children.)
  • Use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter.  The HEPA air cleaners reduce contaminants.
  • Use silk, natural fiber or organic bedding.


1.  Nakazawa, Donna Jackson. The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World out of Balance-- and the Cutting-edge Science That Promises Hope. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 89, 2008. Print.

2 "Tip 4 - Avoid Fire Retardants." Environmental Working Group. EWG, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <>.

3.  Environmental Working Group (September 2008). Fire Retardants in Toddlers and Their Mothers (Report). Environmental Working Group. Retrieved May 2013.

4. Williams, A. L.; Desesso, J. M. (2010). "The Potential of Selected Brominated Flame Retardants to Affect Neurological Development". Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B 13 (5): 411.  doi:10.1080/10937401003751630

5. Costa, L. G.; Giordano, G. (2011). "Is decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209) a developmental neurotoxicant?". NeuroToxicology 32 (1): 9–24.doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2010.12.010. PMC 3046405. PMID 21182867

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