Testing Shows Toxics in Crib Mattresses; NY Can Help End It

A recent report from the Getting Ready for Baby campaign reveals a troubling matter: tests carried out by the campaign indicate that many crib mattresses still contain multiple chemicals of concern, including toxic flame retardant chemicals. The report states that seven of the 13 mattresses tested contained indications of the use of flame retardant chemicals, such as elevated levels of bromine, chlorine, phosphorus, and antimony associated with various flame retardants.

Various states, including California and Maryland, have already banned sales of crib mattresses and other products containing these harmful chemicals which are associated with adverse health effects ranging from cancer and reproductive harm to learning disabilities and interference with the normal operation of hormones. However, because these bans only apply in certain states, sales may still continue in states which do not have such bans.

New York has the opportunity to protect its citizens from these chemicals and to join other leading states in putting an end to this unnecessary practice. A bill introduced by Senator Kaminsky would ban the sales of certain children’s products, including crib mattresses, upholstered furniture, and mattress foam that contain toxic flame retardant chemicals. Most manufacturers have already moved away from these unnecessary uses of these chemicals. In fact, BIFMA, the trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers, supports such restrictions. But a minority of manufacturers and products continue to cause potentially harmful exposures for people, and this bill would put an end to that. The bill would also follow the European Union’s lead and ban the sales of electronic displays with casings and stands that contain organohalogen flame retardant chemicals.

Crib mattresses are the last place harmful chemicals should be allowed. New York can put an end to one such class of harmful chemicals in crib mattresses and in other products children are likely to encounter in the home by passing Senator Kaminsky’s bill.

About the Authors

Avinash Kar

Senior Attorney and Director, State Health Policy, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

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