Sleep Safety Council slates emission tests

The Sleep Products Safety Council (SPSC) has selected the Research Triangle Institute to conduct emissions tests on a random sample of mattresses and especially twin size futon mattresses to evaluate them for potential health hazards. SPSC decided to select an independent research organization after news reported by a Philadelphia television station reported earlier in 1993 on the potential health hazards of fumes from mattresses.

The Sleep products Safety Council's (SPSC) indoor air quality task force has named Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a laboratory in Research Triangle Park, N.C. to conduct emissions tests on a representative sample of mattress constructions.

RTI's tests, which will not involve animals, are designed to evaluate potential emissions and to determine the "extent and nature of any health problem". Therefore, mattresses have to be passed this test to be launched into the market.

The SPSC, an organization affiliated with the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), formed the task force earlier this year in response to news reports by a Philadelphia television station on potential health hazards from mattress fumes.

The station, which has aired reports on health concerns over carpet fumes, sponsored a laboratory test after two viewers complained about "flu-like symptoms" from sleeping on new beds.

In the test, four mice were exposed to air-piped from a chamber holding pieces of new mattresses. The station reported the results: one mouse died and another suffered tremors.

Sleep Safety Council slates emission tests

However, the station's test, conducted by Anderson Lab of Dedham, Mass., included only the viewers' mattresses and did not pinpoint the cause of the effects suffered by the mice.

According to Nancy Butler, senior vice president of ISPA, the tests sponsored by the task force will be more comprehensive than the station's. She said analyzing components "is really the starting point to determine if any emissions might be coming off the mattresses."

Butler said the task force has not yet determined the cost of the tests, which are expected to last several months.

According to a statement by ISPA executives, the association "takes any such report most seriously." The statement pointed out, however, that the Environmental Protection Agency is evaluating Anderson's test and has questioned its validity. Read good tips about twin size futon mattress information

Russ Abolt, executive vice president of ISPA, noted, "We have an excellent record of responding to consumer health and safety concerns relating to our products. Both ISPA and the SPSC have been active in a variety of public safety issues, including our long-standing involvement in fire safety research and education, as well as our more recent child safety advisory programs."

We have every intention of maintaining our well-deserved reputation for responsible action in pursuing this new issue."

ISPA executives also noted that the California Bureau of Home Furnishings, which is conducting separate tests, so far has found no chemical emissions from mattress component materials which would cause consumer health problems.

The task force selected RTI from among three finalists. The decision was also approved by a scientific advisory board that includes William S. Cain, professor of epidemiology/environmental health at Yale; Mark Reasor, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at West Virginia University; and Gordon Damant, a chemist and chief of the California Bureau of Home Furnishings.

Following the news reports, ISPA received some inquiries from concerned consumers and has prepared written guidelines to help manufacturers and retailers to address these concerns. The guidelines can be obtained by calling ISPA.

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