High levels of VOCs are emitted from some new baby mattresses

Environmental engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have reported that infants are exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from some crib mattresses. The problem appears to be associated with the polyurethane foam and polyester foam that is often used in such mattresses. New baby mattresses emit four times as much VOCs as old crib mattresses. Body heat increases emissions and emissions of volatile organic compounds are highest in the sleeping infant’s immediate breathing zone. One of the researchers is quoted by the University as stating that crib mattresses release VOCs at rates comparable to other consumer products and indoor materials, including laminate flooring (20 to 35 micrograms per square metre per hour) and wall covering (51 micrograms per square metre per hour).

The researchers identified more than 30 VOCs in the mattresses, including phenol, neodecanoic acid and linalool. The most abundant chemicals identified in the crib mattress foam, such as limonene (a chemical that gives products a lemon scent), are routinely found in many cleaning and consumer products. The researchers have not published the brands of baby mattress used in their research.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, not much is known about the health effects that occur from the levels of VOCs found in homes. The implications of the research are not alarming, in GallonDaily’s opinion, but the whole question of indoor exposure to VOCs certainly warrants further study and emissions from baby products containing foam may warrant somewhat more accelerated further study.

A summary of the research findings is available at http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/04/02/crib-mattresses-emit-chemicals/. The full paper, fee or subscription required, is at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es405625q?prevSearch=%255BContrib%253A%2BBoor%255D&searchHistoryKey=

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