You want to feel secure in the safety of your bedroom when you tuck in every night. After all, it’s where you’re at your most vulnerable for eight hours, and it’s also where you store some of your most valuable possessions. But for all the things you do to keep your intimate space safe, you could be neglecting to protect yourself from one significant hazard. Recently, thousands of customers have come forth to raise concerns about a popular bedroom staple. Read on to find out whether you need to make a change to your space.
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Mattresses are required to comply with federal flammability standards set forth by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Back in the day, most manufacturers used benzene and antimony as fire retardants in their mattresses. But these two chemicals have since been banned for use in consumer products because they were proven to be unsafe for human health, according to the Environmental Litigation Group (ELG). Now, fiberglass—which is a mix of plastic and glass—has become a popular fire retardant in many budget mattresses, because it’s a cheaper option for passing flammability tests.
“The purpose of glass fibers in a mattress is that the fire retardant will form a protective layer that will prevent the mattress from burning completely if the product catches fire,” the ELG explains.
One of Amazon’s most popular mattresses has found itself at the center of major consumer concerns over the use of fiberglass. A woman from Sacramento, California, named Vanessa Gutierrez is leading the charge, Insider reported on Aug. 28. According to the news outlet, Gutierrez is heading a new proposed-class-action lawsuit again Zinus Inc., the maker of the “Green Tea Mattress,” which is listed as an Amazon bestseller. The suit represents a total of 2,000 individuals from across the U.S. who are claiming that they experienced harm to their health by the popular “bed-in-a-box” mattress because of fiberglass.
“Direct contact with fiberglass or breathing airborne dust containing fiberglass may irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. The symptoms of irritation are often nonspecific, temporary, and may include itching, coughing, or wheezing. High levels of exposure to airborne fiberglass may aggravate existing asthma or bronchitis-like conditions,” the Washington State Department of Health says on its website.
In the class-action lawsuit, Gutierrez alleges that the Green Tea Mattress caused serious health issues for her family of five and resulted in $20,000 worth of damages. According to Insider, she claims that the Zinus mattress released fiberglass fibers that caused medical issues “so severe” she had to “take her infant daughter to multiple medical appointments to obtain treatment.” On Aug. 25, Gutierrez told the Los Angeles Times that the initial health concerns she noticed on her 5-month-old daughter in May 2019 were sores and rashes.
“The baby got the worst of it. I thought she was overactive, but it was because she was feeling the burning … It looked like little paper cuts all over the back of her legs,” she told the newspaper, while also noting that her 9-year-old daughter started experiencing asthma flare-ups at the time. Per Insider, Gutierrez’s lawsuit also claims that glass fibers contaminated the family’s two-bedroom apartment and forced them to temporarily relocate, as well as discard clothing, bedding, and furniture worth thousands of dollars.
This is not the only suit being brought against Zinus, Insider reported. It appears that consumers have been raising concerns over fiberglass in the company’s mattresses since at least 2020. For its part, Zinus has maintained its innocence. In a statement to Best Life, a spokesperson for the company said that fiberglass is a chemical-free fire safety material, which is standard in making mattresses fire-resistant and not considered hazardous by the CPSC.
The CPSC told Insider that mattresses made with a layer of fiberglass “have a protective out cover which acts as a barrier to separate the fiberglass layer from consumers and to maintain the effectiveness of its fire-resistant properties.” As long as the mattress cover is left intact, “exposure to fiberglass particles is expected to be minimal,” the agency said.
In its statement to Best Life, Zinus said, “Zinus mattresses currently being sold include locked zippers without pull tabs and an additional sewn-in label that warns against removing the outer cover. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been quoted recently in media reports corroborating this. Additionally, various regulatory agencies and authoritative scientific bodies have concluded that exposure to this type of material does not pose a risk of chronic health effects. For all these reasons, we look forward to defending the composition and construction of our products in court, should that be necessary, and are confident we will prevail.”