How Cigarette Makers Poisoned Your Mattress

An extraordinary piece of investigative journalism in the Chicago Tribune has pulled back the curtain on exactly how toxic chemical flame retardants entered our sofas, our babies’ clothing, and even the beds we sleep in. Not to mention our bloodstreams, our bodies’ tissues, and our brains.

The corruption and cynicism behind this form of pollution—which increases risks of cancer, developmental brain disorders and infertility—are breathtaking. And heartbreaking. In 1983, world production of chemical flame retardants was 526 million pounds. Production is on track to reach 4.4 billion pounds by 2014—an increase of over 800 percent.

Here’s the kicker: We didn’t need them. These chemicals are massively profitable pollutants that were invented intentionally to take the focus off fire danger from cigarettes. They don’t work in a meaningful way. They’re showing up not just in our own bodies, but in wildlife around the world. These compounds are so toxic that some have been banned by a U.N. treaty created to eliminate the most dangerous chemicals in the world.

At Savvy Rest, we make natural mattresses out of the purest materials available, using only certified organic wool to meet flame retardancy requirements. We’ve been talking about the dangers of toxic chemicals in conventional mattress materials and synthetic foams for years. But we are still shocked by the greed and callousness that perpetuate this danger for consumers who simply want to be safe in their own homes, and their own beds.

The Tribune's riveting series follows the trail, from Big Tobacco to Big Chemicals, that has brought these poisons into our homes and the earth's ecosystems. We hope you’ll read it.