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Mattress Research: Chemicals, Green Living & Sleep

Research continues to reveal new insights about sleep and about materials found in many sleep-related products.

In conventional mattresses, flame retardants have been identified as the biggest health threat to individuals. Conventional cotton culture is toxic to the planet, accounting for 30% of pesticide and herbicide use and a huge negative effect on ecosystems. Conventional wool processing releases harsh chemicals and solvents. Petroleum-based foams are common in furniture and mattresses.

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Low levels of common flame-retardant chemical damage brain cells: Finding may have implications for autism. Evidence that a common ingredient in flame retardants damages the mitochondria responsible for healthy brain development. (UCDavis MIND Institute, 1/13)

Flame Retardants in Furniture, Carpets Might Affect Kids’ Development. Another study links exposure to flame-retardant chemicals to physical and mental impairment in school-age children. (HealthDay, 11/15/12)

Learning and Developmental Disabilities Health Report. A summary of research on neurotoxic chemicals, including flame retardants, and brain development. (Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, 7/12)

The Mattress Matters: New report finds toxics in crib mattresses. Heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are in most baby mattresses. (Clean and Healthy New York, 11/7/11)

Cleaning Up Our Kids’ Brains (Utne Reader, 7/6/11)

An investigation of halogenated fire retardants in baby products. (Environmental Science & Technology, 5/18/11)

The Poison Crib: When Protective Chemicals Harm. New evidence of the dangers of flame retardants. (Salon, 7/10/10)

Children and dust: High concentrations of flame retardants in house dust affect children more than adults. (Environmental Science & Technology, 8/19/09)

Should You Ditch Your Chemical Mattress? (Mother Jones, Mar/Apr 08)

A Silent Pandemic: Industrial Chemicals Are Impairing the Brain Development of Children Worldwide (Harvard School of Public Health, 11/7/06)

Pesticides in our water: Three to five times more pesticides are used on cotton fields than on soy or corn fields. (United States Geological Survey, 5/98)

Green living

I Dwell in Possibility. Eco-expert Simran Sethi “greens” her historic home in Kansas. (Oprah.com, 12/13/10)


Scientists Discover the Reason We Need Sleep. Researchers have discovered why sleep is critical to survival: during sleep, a flood of cerebrospinal fluid cleans toxins from the brain. (Mashable, 10/21/2013; Science, 10/2013)

Findings Reveal Brain Mechanisms At Work During Sleep. Insights into how sleep deprivation impacts dementia, different types of memory, and learning. (Society for Neuroscience, 10/16/12)

Do You Have the “Morning Person” Gene? Genetic difference found between early birds and sleepyheads. (The Week, 11/28/11)

Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 5/21/07)

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