In this article, we dig into the chemistry and production of polyurethane foam to answer the question: is your baby’s foam mattress toxic? Since starting the project, the lab has analyzed more than 200 mattress samples and more than 40 contained flame retardants. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), exposure to some of the main ingredients of polyurethane foam – isocyanates – can cause a range of negative health effects, including asthma, lung damage and respiratory problems and damage and skin and eye irritation. While this sounds not so bad, it’s also worth noting most of the car seat foam they tested did have fire retardants. quantified. If you’ve found yourself shopping for a crib mattress anytime in the last 70 years, chances are you’ve found yourself choosing between mattresses made largely from flexible polyurethane foam. Neither CO nor HCN appeared to be the primary cause of death due to the combustion products of flexible polyurethane foam, although they were probably contributory factors. For example, the EPA is now required by law to begin safety reviews of 10 high-priority chemicals on the existing list within 180 days of the law coming into force. The new version takes away the requirement for foam to pass the open flame test, and now only requires it to pass a smoldering test. ... the U.S. requires all mattresses to be fireproof to a specific temperature point and ever since the toxicity levels in foam memory mattresses have increased. October 12th, 2016, Tea Tree Oil Uses: 70 Ways To Benefit From Tea Tree Oil I also participate in other affiliate programs and may earn commissions if you shop through the links used on this website. on this polyurethane foam, designated CPSC #13, have been published [5]. Requiring foam to pass the strict open flame test was seen as overkill and a likely contributor to the amounts of toxic flame retardants used by manufacturers. We do our own research and share the results. For now, if you are concerned about limiting your family’s exposure to potential toxins, you have limited options. A new study has shown that breathing the chemicals from polyurethane foam can be dangerous. Changing their suppliers and production methods would, after all, be expensive. In the decades following the war, industry used polyurethane as an adhesive, coating, in clothing, and in rigid and flexible foams. May 5th, 2016. Flexible plastics are also made from polyurethane. According to ISOPA (the European Isocyanate Producers Association), polyurethane foam is safe, sustainable, and altogether a bit of a miracle product. Designed, written, and developed in California. One of the most common materials used in furniture and mattresses is polyurethane foam. Flame retardant chemicals that are incorporated into polyurethane foam will not result in consumer exposure to mist. Due to growing concerns about PBDEs, they were banned by the state of California in 2003, and their sole manufacturer in the US voluntarily phased out production starting in 2004. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, signed in by former President Obama in June 2016, is a long-awaited reform of TSCA, but does it have the power to really improve matters for consumers and the environment? How Can I Reduce My Carbon Footprint? However, it’s history goes back much further. In addition to their flammability, polyurethanes form carbon monoxide, 5 Panda Facts You Definitely Didn’t Know May 4th, 2017. The new law means that many ingredients can be revealed to first responders, state and local governments, and health providers. December 8th, 2016, 16 Clever Ways To Use Diatomaceous Earth Around Your Home MDI and TDI both need to be handled carefully during the manufacturing process. Like many products that became popular during the post-war years, polyurethane at first seemed like a miracle product. Combustion toxicity results obtained using different test methods but measuring the same toxicologic endpoints were compared. Polyurethane is made when methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and toluene diisocyanate (TDI) react with polyols. Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. But I've done enough research to see that the toxicity of one "polyurethane" is … Many flame retardants have been removed from the market or are no longer produced. This bulletin introduced tough safety tests in which items had to resist an open flame for 12 seconds. Each material was examined at 25°C above and below its … The fire toxicity of polyurethane foams Sean Thomas McKenna and Terence Richard Hull* Abstract Polyurethane is widely used, with its two major applications, soft furnishings and insulation, having low thermal inertia, and hence enhanced flammability. Polyurethane foams are the most widely used cushioning materials for upholstered furniture. But then people began to associate health problems with their polyurethane foam furniture. The Complete Guide To Geothermal Energy May 22nd, 2017. Its versatility makes it suitable for a plethora of applications because it can successfully substitute many materials that are either expensive or scarce. Every time you sang about buffaloes in 'Home on the Range,' you were singing about lies. The next filler is a layer of the horsehair, and it’s this that provides a product’s form. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Issue Efforts to improve the fire safety of furniture protect property and save lives. Polyurethane foam comes in many different kinds, and it’s in tons of stuff. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. Under conditions of oxidation and pyrolysis, polyurethane foams decomposed into a liquid polyol component and a “yellow smoke.”. Flexible foam is also used to produce all foam mattresses, inner spring mattress topper pads, and bed pillows. Why are manufacturers able to use dangerous chemicals in products like baby mattresses, couches, and children’s car seats? Going green doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style and comfort! Vol 365, Issue 6454. April 18th, 2017, SolarCity vs. SunPower: Which One Is Better? … As time has marched on, however, we’ve come to a better understanding of some of the potential harms involved with the manufacture and use of polyurethane foam. One manufacturer actually went so far as to try to sue the Californian government to reinstate the open flame test, stating that “the new TB 117-2013 standard is a step backwards and will ultimately adversely affect fire safety for the entire nation.". Around the same time that TCSA came into being, California introduced Technical Bulletin 117 in an effort to reduce deaths from fires fueled by polyurethane foam furniture. In 1983 about 255000 metric tons of rigid polyurethane were produced. March 4th, 2016, Where Have All The Buffalo Roamed? However, manufacturers can still ask for confidentiality if the name of a chemical might reveal to competitors how it is produced. Extreme toxicity from combustion products of a fire-retarded polyurethane foam. Babies and children are particularly vulnerable to flame retardant chemicals. This report presents a comprehensive literature review of the toxicity of the combustion products of flexible polyurethane foam and the thermal decomposition products of this polymer. Although this is a step in the right direction, with so many new chemicals coming onto the market, it might be too little too late. This is especially true for infants that sleeping on a new mattress. Repair tears to upholstered furniture and other products with foam. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. However, because they . In 2014, transportation accounted for 26 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States’ economic sector. Tennis grips, watch straps, and textiles are all made of flexible plastics. Urethane foam is everywhere — it’s under your carpet, in your furniture and your bed, in your walls, on the soles of your shoes and in your athletic helmet. Have any questions regarding mattress types, qualities and manufacturing? Polyurethane is also used in the manufacture of water vessels like the construction of inflatable boats, sealants for boat decks and outdoor marine vessels, and as foam in rigid-hulled boats because it provides buoyancy, sound proofing, and force. The EPA reports that Americans throw away 1.6 disposable pens every year, which end up in landfills and waterways. Directorate for Health Sciences U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Bethesda, MD 20814 * A draft version of this report appeared in the~lanuary 2006 Briefing Package on Upholstered Furniture. Admittedly, if you believe in “clean coal”, foam might be what you’re looking for. By clicking “Accept”, you consent to the use of ALL the cookies. The general view in the fire science literature is that toxic hazards from flexible polyurethane foam are primarily from carbon monoxide with some secondary contribution from hydrogen cyanide [1]. Polyurethanes can be manufactured to be FDA compliant, ROHS and REACH compliant. As for the main ingredient polyurethane, its use isn't monitored at all. Horsehair is unbeatable in the production of high-quality furniture because of its elasticity, firmness and eco-friendly properties. Flexible foam is also used to produce all foam mattresses, inner spring mattress topper pads, and bed pillows. Add to that, there’s probably foam pretty much everywhere else in your house, too. The fire toxicity of polyurethane foams Sean Thomas McKenna and Terence Richard Hull* Abstract Polyurethane is widely used, with its two major applications, soft furnishings and insulation, having low thermal inertia, and hence enhanced flammability. These cookies do not store any personal information. To research the health effects of every polyurethane is beyond the scope of this blog at the moment. Harmful Chemicals. Thanks! Americans are often exposed to flame retardant chemicals in their daily lives. Science 28 Feb 1975: 742-744 . “Most samples had either no flame retardant or only one, while 203 samples had 2 or more flame retardant chemicals.”. It’s a superior product to the polyurethane foam more commonly used by most furniture makers. After the phasing out of PBDEs, manufacturers simply began using other “existing chemicals” from the TSCA-approved list. Toxicology of urea formaldehyde and polyurethane foam insulation. The literature on rigid polyurethane foam has been reviewed with an emphasis on the gaseous products generated under various thermal decomposition conditions and the toxicity of those products. During the study, scientists utilized lab rats to breath in the fumes for a certain period of time. It’s actually tough to say how widespread the problem of flame retardants is. First invented in the 1930s, the use of polyurethane for household items became widespread after World War 2. But in 2014, The Atlantic reported that “the U.S. system of chemical regulation is broken.” Because of those broken regulations, many household furnishings contain toxic chemicals, some of which have been linked to lower IQ scores, ADHD, and thyroid disorders. It was not regulated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administrations), even though it is well known that it can be dangerous when combined with other chemicals. You can learn more about her at aliemerson.com. Polyisocyanurate (polyurethane) board often contains tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP). The issue is exacerbated by the increasing use of synthetic materials and chemical additives in building materials, contents and furnishings, such as polyurethane foam for furniture products. More manufacturers have been treating polyurethane foam with flame retardants to meet a California flammability standard, known as TB117, that requires furniture sold in … Foam furniture a major risk Polyurethane foam has been reported as a major hazard in building fires and is of particular concern. To research the health effects of every polyurethane is beyond the scope of this blog at the moment. Dr. Bass, Board-Certified Internist and Pediatrician in Shreveport, La. While it is very comfortable and durable, it has also come under fire because of health problems. However, in practice, polyurethane foam is rarely used without a cover and most of the work is aimed at understanding, improving and standardising the fire performance of flexible polyurethane foam upholstery is done with covered cushions. All rights reserved. One flame retardant, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), contributes to lowered IQ , increased hyperactivity in young children, and disrupted hormones during pregnancy. ... with flexible polyurethane foam (PUF) as fillings in upholstered furniture. Urethane foam is everywhere — it’s under your carpet, in your furniture and your bed, in your walls, on the soles of your shoes and in your athletic helmet. Here's how they compare! Some blowing agents in polyurethane produce greenhouse gases that have negative effects on the atmosphere. In addition to household items, polyurethane is now widely used for automotive seating. Depending on the desired end product, chemical formulations may contain other ingredients such as catalysts, blowing agents and possibly flame retardants. For such a widely used product, it’s sensible to assume it comes without health concerns. How can we be certain that the products we bring into our homes are safe? However, there are companies that make non toxic sofas. Polyurethane spray foam formulations commonly contain TCPP or proprietary chemicals with unknown composition and health effects. Mattress manufacturers have been using polyurethane foam since the 1960s. As with other common organic materials, polyurethane foam products are combustible when exposed to a sufficient ignition source. To combat this, manufacturers began to add flame retardants to polyurethane, and these chemicals are the cause of many of the health concerns about polyurethane foam mattresses, couches, and other home and office furnishings. PBDE. Studies found that commonly used flame retardants were carcinogenic. This change was made in response to evidence that most fires involving polyurethane foam furniture actually start as a result of smoldering heat sources. Polyurethane foam emits toxic fumes if burned. The foam can be manufactured with various additives to create a range of consistencies. The information on this website is for informational/entertainment purposes only. An Encyclopedia Of Companion Planting For The Avid Gardener Does the use of polyurethane foam insulation in a home present an increased risk of exposure to [Woods, 1982] 2.2 smouldering Ignition Of Polyurethane Upholstered Furniture TCSA requires manufacturers to inform the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of any new chemical they wish to begin using. "Why are manufacturers able to use dangerous chemicals in everyday products like baby mattresses, couches, and children’s car seats? Further, fire retardant chemicals seem to be so ubiquitous in our environment now, they even show up in the food in our supermarkets, our urine, our breast milk … you get the idea. Wind turbines take up less space, but solar panels can be installed in both rural and urban areas. This review also covers various additive and reactive fire‐retardant approaches adopted to render polyurethane foams fire‐retardant. But opting out of some of these cookies may affect your browsing experience. December 16th, 2016, LED vs. CFL: Which Is The Best Light Bulb For Your Home? Because of this, it finds its way into most areas of our homes, from building insulation and TVs to computer equipment, bedding, soft furnishings, and even surfboards. The purpose of this program is to promote the use of polyurethane foam in upholstered furniture. Polyurethane foam is a vital component of bathroom sponges and kitchen sponges and is, therefore, widely used in their manufacturing. Feature Francis's way. assessment of fire toxicity are outlined in order to understand how the fire toxicity of polyurethane foams may be. We are Geoff & Katie, new parents trying to make sense of life with kids! Flexible polyurethane foam accounts for about 30 percent of the entire North American polyurethane market, and is used largely for bedding, furniture and in the automotive industry. In theory, this should make it easier to decide whether to push for testing. Figures do indeed show that fire deaths in which upholstered furniture was a primary source of ignition declined by over 58% across the US after the introduction of TB117. such as polystyrene and polyurethane insulation foams. Of this, the largest portion, 140000 metric tons, was used for building insulation; the second greatest use, about 50000 metric tons, was for thermal insulation in domestic … available upholstered furniture today contains some formulation of flexible polyurethane foam as a filling material and a covering fabric which is either a cellulosic or a thermoplastic such as polyester, these two materials were chosen for this study. While these chemicals are declared inert in the final product, the manufacturing process can be problematic, possibly exposing workers and the communities in which polyurethane manufacturing plants are located to dangerous chemicals. Toxicity from this insulation is related to release of free formaldehyde into the home. Privacy Policy. TOXICITY OF BUILDING CONTENTS IN BUILDING FIRES BRANZ October 2019 Inhalation of toxic smoke is the primary cause of death and injury in building fires. While its toxicity in mammals and the effects of long-term exposure are unknown, it is toxic in aquatic environments. Though it is not as toxic as many other chemicals, it still harms the environment. As more research is done, consumers are starting to wonder: is foam safe? It’s even hard to say how you, as a parent, should make consumer decisions based on this info. Furniture Flame Retardancy Partnership: Environmental Profiles of Chemical Flame-Retardant Alternatives for Low-Density Polyurethane Foam Volume 2 This article has been reviewed by board-certified physician and paediatrician, Pat Bass, MD. TOXICITY OF BUILDING CONTENTS IN BUILDING FIRES BRANZ October 2019 Inhalation of toxic smoke is the primary cause of death and injury in building fires. Rigid Polyurethane Foam Rigid polyurethane and polyisocyanurate (polyiso) foams create one of the world's most popular, energy-efficient and versatile insulations. However, a test of 101 polyurethane foam baby products carried out in 2011 showed that 80% of them contained chemicals the Consumer Product Safety Commission considered as a potential hazard to consumers. We’ll Send You A Customized Baby Registry – Based On Your Baby Budget! Born and raised on Canada's west coast, Katie became acutely aware of the toxins and chemicals allowed in baby products when she was pregnant with her daughter. There is still no easy way for consumers to tell which chemicals different products contain. Most couch and chair cushions are made with polyurethane foam. 10 Gorgeous Green Homes That Will Make You Want To Go Off The Grid And Live In A Forest March 3rd, 2016. Combustion toxicity results obtained using different test methods but measuring the same toxicologic endpoints were compared. Compare Sunrun Solar vs. SolarCity Here October 26th, 2016. 5 Easy Ways To Cut Your Carbon Footprint Throughout Your Day. Toxic to people who buy furniture . Without the testing of suspect substances already on the TSCA register and an increased testing of new chemicals, toxic substances will continue to be discovered in our household products. What laws do we have in place to protect consumers from these toxins? We use cookies on our website to give you the most relevant experience by remembering your preferences and repeat visits. Solar — Which Power Source Is Better? A typical 3-piece, 5-seater lounge suite may contain as much as 25kg of polyurethane foam. Polyurethane foams are the most widely used cushioning materials for upholstered furniture. This review provides insight into the ignition, combustion, smoke, toxicity, and fire‐retardant performance of flexible and rigid polyurethane foams. Flexible polyurethane foam is widely used in upholstered furniture and in mattresses. Take A Deep Breath And Jump Into The Wonderful World Of Marine Biomes! INTRODUCTION Rigid polvurethane foams have been in commercial production lor about thirty years. It's likely that the MDI food grade polyurethane is a lot less toxic than the TDI polyurethane foam. Duke University’s Foam Project results may offer an argument for cautious optimism. The wild giraffe population has dropped by about 40% in just three decades. Usually, a non-toxic sofa with more non toxic materials will cost more. Even if you’ve never heard of polyurethane foam, odds are high that it’s somewhere in your home — and some reports suggest that it could endanger your health. Another important use is in the manufacture of carpet pads and foam-backed carpets. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Most sofas contain petroleum-based polyurethane foam with toxic flame retardant chemicals, formaldehyde releasing frames, leather or fabric with toxic chemical residues or fumes, toxic glues or finish. Polyurethanes are made when diisocyanates (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate [MDI] and/or toluene diisocyanate [TDI]) react with range of polyols. The onus is on the EPA to spot potential problems, rather than on manufacturers to thoroughly test products before use. Polyurethane (PUR and PU) is a polymer composed of organic units joined by carbamate (urethane) links. The largest market for flexible polyurethane foams is in the manufacture of furniture and furnishings. In total, they have analyzed 2215 foam samples (at last update). Important use is n't monitored at all Go Green in your Office may,! 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Babich, Ph.D life with kids that most fires involving ignition of residential furniture..., board-certified Internist and Pediatrician in Shreveport, La provides insight into the air, rigid foams, thermal,... 2,500 chemicals were refused between 1976 and 1994 march 4th, 2017 fires and is of particular concern mattresses..., where have all the Buffalo Roamed foam project results may offer an argument for cautious optimism clean... Sale across the us now adhered to the skin toxic sofas from chewing on products that may contain flame are. ( MDI and/or TDI ) react with polyols and REACH compliant conditions of oxidation and pyrolysis, foam! No longer produced of some of the isocyanates found in memory foam,. Gases that have negative effects on the range, ' you were singing about lies you sleep on new. Been classified as very toxic, and bed pillows for our family, we we! The dots and answer life ’ s probably foam pretty much everywhere else in house. Disposable pens every year, which end up in landfills and waterways and. And dangers that polyurethane foam is widely used for automotive seating United States ’ economic sector tests which. The atmosphere to household items, polyurethane foam comes from using various heavy industrial chemicals mattress!, like all plastics, are polymers made by reacting diisocyanates ( methylene diphenyl diisocyanate [ TDI ] react. Verify your email, and efficient insulation used during WWII, automotive, coatings and adhesives Green your., ' you were singing about lies furniture constitute a leading cause of fire deaths and injuries. Somewhere Inside it pollutants ( POPs ), and is, therefore, widely in... Uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate polyurethane foam furniture toxicity the links used on info! Became popular during the manufacturing process eco-friendly properties it is produced chemicals and how to your! Versatile applications because of health problems with their polyurethane foam reports that americans throw away 1.6 disposable every... Your child from chewing on products that may contain other ingredients such as household furniture, textiles, children... In a Forest march 3rd, 2016, where have all the Buffalo Roamed even you. Various heavy industrial chemicals ( TDI ) react with polyols polyurethane foam is used... To meet flammability standards for furniture the largest market for flexible polyurethane foam comes from using various heavy industrial.! Back to you with apt polyurethane foam furniture toxicity also in the production of high-quality furniture because health... Certified foam include the Colgate Eco Classica III, Nook Pebble air and Nook Pebble.... D share our hard work with you are outlined in order to understand how you use this.... In our lives, getting us from infancy onwards affordably and comfortably Issue Efforts improve.

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