Phoenix, Thank you so much for keeping up my post, and your in depth reply! Wow, reading all the myths and contradictions, I am sure glad I do no longer have to go to bed wondering and worrying about all of this!
Given your experience and expertise, I would love to also hear your input on the NY Times article published last September. I would think the Times woudhave the best fact checkers out there, so I do take what they are telling me seriously. If you cannot read the article through the link let me know and I can send you a copy.
This is the point (quoted from the NY Times article
How Dangerous Is Your Couch? September 6, 2012) that upset me as a mother:
"The problem is that flame retardants don’t seem to stay in foam. High concentrations have been found in the bodies of creatures as geographically diverse as salmon, peregrine falcons, cats, whales, polar bears and Tasmanian devils. Most disturbingly, a recent study of toddlers in the United States conducted by researchers at Duke University found flame retardants in the blood of every child they tested. The chemicals are associated with an assortment of health concerns, including antisocial behavior, impaired fertility, decreased birth weight, diabetes, memory loss, undescended testicles, lowered levels of male hormones and hyperthyroidism. "
And this point was something that really convinced me it was time to get rid of all the foam in my house (this is a quote from the same article):
"One of those talents is a fire-safety scientist named Vytenis Babrauskas, who is considered a leading authority on furniture flammability. Babrauskas, the former head of the combustion-toxicology program for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, runs the consulting firm Fire Science and Technology in Issaquah, Wash. For many years, the chemical industry quoted his studies in support of Technical Bulletin 117, particularly one he did at the standards institute in 1987 in which a room filled with flame-retardant-treated chairs and electronics was set ablaze and compared with one in which the same furnishings were free of flame retardants. The oft-quoted result of the study was that the treated furnishings provided a fifteen fold increase in escape time.
That, after all, is the reason TB 117 exists — to keep people from dying when their couch catches on fire. “Deaths caused by furniture fires dropped from 1,400 in 1980 to 600 in 2004; a 57 percent reduction,” Chemtura wrote in response to my questions.
Three years ago, Blum contacted Babrauskas and invited him to attend a keynote address she was giving at a scientific meeting in Seattle. Afterward, they went on a hike. By the time the day was over, he had become her most potent ally in the battle against TB 117. It turned out that Babrauskas felt his study results had been distorted. He used a lot of flame retardants, he says, far more than anyone would ever put in a piece of furniture sold to consumers. “What I did not realize would happen is that the industry would take that data and try to misapply it to fire retardants in general,” he says. "
Since I feel we cannot trust the data on fire safety, I have chosen to only use a filling for my mattresses that I have fire tested myself. I took a pile of buckwheat hulls and a small lump of foam and set both on fire. The foam exploded into flames and burned for a long time, burning blue with lots of black smoke. The hulls tried to ignite and did so for a split second, and then extinguished themselves (similar to wool). I felt more confident with my own burn test, much more than a pile of data interpreted by a specific industry.
To answer your question of why I no longer recommend or include the latex layer in my Mattress Kits: I do not trust what anyone says about what is really in it. I do trust Mother Nature. We have a choice what materials we sleep, relax, and snuggle with our babies on, and given the above information, I simply have chosen not to use foam in my home and I do not feel comfortable selling it to others.
Also, I have changed my mind on what a quality mattress is. The thought of a mattress doubling it’s weight from soaking in 10 - 25 years of dust mites and dust mite debris does not ring quality to my ears. An all natural mattress I made myself, that I know exactly what it is filled with, that I can empty and wash in the washing machine and hull filling that I can spread out in the sunshine to be air cleaned? That is quality in my mind.
Thanks again Phoenix for allowing this conversation!