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Toxic Pillows! Detox Diva

Submitted by on Tuesday, 24 November 20092 Comments

Sleeping ChildPillows. There is nothing closer to our noses for seven or more hours a day except maybe glasses, for those that wear them. Now we learn from new research that pillows and car seats give humans the highest amount of PBDE flame retardants of any product.

Before this, when I’d focused on pillow toxics, I’d focused on outgassing foam and polyester. If I had really thought about it I would have suspected that pillows might have flame retardants, but maybe the thought was too gruesome to entertain. There is something so innocent about people, especially children, snuggled up with their pillows every night that it is heart breaking to realize that they/we are breathing in chemicals that are long-lasting in the environment (and our bodies), and are being linked to developmental, reproductive disorders and more.

Wisconsin researchers have tracked the most significant sources of human exposure to one type of flame retardant chemicals – polybrominated dipheylethers (PBDEs) – by using a new kind of portable x-ray analyzer that can detect bromine levels in household items.

The PBDE content was substantially higher in pillows made of polyurethane foam (3,646 parts per million) compared with those made of polyester fibers (107 parts per million) or feathers (6 parts per million).

Car seats made of cloth upholstery had bromine levels that were almost 25 times higher than those made of leather.

The highest sources of PBDE are, according to the study reported in Environmental Health Perspectives, computers and televisions, with averages of about 30,000 and 95,000 parts per million, respectively, but they are not the highest source of exposure for people.

Share sources of organic pillows! Some I suggest are lifekind.com, heartofvermont.com, earthsake.com, and goodnightnaturals.com.

By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).

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  • […] Foam has to be hand washed. That said, my advice is to throw out all foam pillows due to the fire retardants they might contain. Read about what I have written about toxic pillows. […]

  • Michele says:

    My husband and I have organic cotton-covered natural rubber pillows from Earthsake that we love. We recently got a similar OrganicTextiles brand pillow for our very young son through Amazon on sale for $30 for a standard size pillow. This is considerably cheaper than what we paid. The cover on this cheaper pillow is not quilted and is ultra thin jersey. And the pattern of holes on this cheaper one is very simple, not fancy, and perhaps ours is more “zoned”. The cheaper one is also thinner which is better for him. Our pillows provide firm yet cushy support for lying on my back and side. We bought ours during Earthsake’s once a year “friends and family” sale. I forget if the discounts are 20% off then? I will say that after 4 years of owning these pillows when I look inside the cover the latex is disintegrating but it doesn’t affect their comfort. And after reading this article I have great peace of mind that our pillows and organic cotton, pure-grow wool, and natural rubber mattress are safe.

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