You may have come across mattresses containing polyethylene terephthalate when researching green, eco-friendly, or non-toxic crib mattresses for your infant (most commonly abbreviated as PET or PEET).
PETE may appear frightening and require a few tries to pronounce (pol-eeee-eth-ul-eeen tet-ra-fal-ate). However, according to the majority of recent research and international safety regulations, it’s a safe choice for your baby’s crib mattress.
PETE is now used in some of the most well-known “natural,” “non-toxic,” and “organic” baby mattress brands. It’s used as a mattress filler, a waterproofing agent, and a fabric (in the form of polyester, which is PETE’s textile equivalent).
The Pebble Lite crib mattress from Nook Sleep, Lullaby Earth, the Colgate Eco Classica III, and the Newton Baby are just a few examples of crib mattresses that use PETE (or polyester – the textile version of PETE) in various ways.
Is it, however, safe for your child? What about the environment, for example? Is it a good option for families that want to become green?
We’ll address all the questions you didn’t know you had about buying a crib mattress made of polyethylene terephthalate in this post.
What Is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE/PET)
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET) is a typical, everyday plastic that you most likely use on a regular basis.
PETE, in fact, accounts for more than half of all synthetic fibres in use today. Polyester (the textile form) or the #1 recycling mark on single-use water bottles and food containers are likely familiar terms.
PETE has also been more popular as a baby mattress component in recent years.
As a result, parents should educate themselves on the advantages, disadvantages, dangers, and benefits of utilizing polyethylene terephthalate goods in their baby’s nursery.
Consider when you last consumed bottled water or soda from a plastic bottle. It’s likely that you drank the beverage in a PETE bottle if you bought it in the United States. In fact, if you search hard enough, you’ll undoubtedly discover PETE in your home: it’s used to package salad dressings, peanut butter, cooking oils, mouthwash, shampoo, liquid hand soap, window cleaner, and even tennis balls.
Polyethylene Terephthalate is a Hydrocarbon
PETE is a kind of plastic. The polymer chain is made up of two building blocks: ethylene glycol (a hydrocarbon produced from crude oil and natural gas) and terephthalic acid.
Several steps of processing, followed by liquefaction, are required to transform this raw material into a finished product. PETE is extremely valuable in the industrial world since it can be liquefied and molded into nearly any shape.
Isn’t it fantastic?
Is It Safe?
PET or PETE is a “Safer Plastic,” according to several experts and governments.
PETE is largely regarded as one of the safest polymers by leading health agencies all over the world.
The PET Resin Association claims that:
“The FDA and health-safety organizations throughout the globe have authorized PET for contact with foods and beverages.”
While the PET Resin Association has “skin in the game” and cannot be expected to be impartial, many other respected organizations believe PETE is one of the safest polymers.
In a 2008 article analyzing Health Canada’s decision to designate BPA as a hazardous chemical, Paediatrics & Child Health, a peer-reviewed medical publication and the official journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society, identified PETE as a “safer” plastic.
This, however, is only half of the story. Plastics safety, as well as the science that surrounds it, is always changing.
Still don’t trust us? Consider how extensively BPA was previously accepted.
What are the health risks associated with PETE?
Antimony, a substance used as a catalyst during the production process that is also a potential carcinogen, is one of the primary health risks associated with PETE.
The following is from a research published in the Royal Society of Chemistry:
“Sb2O3 [antimony trioxide] is used as a catalyst in 90% of PET produced worldwide. Antimony trioxide is a suspected carcinogen, and the US Environmental Protection Agency, the European Union, and the German Research Foundation have designated it as a priority pollutant.”
Antimony leaching from bottled water kept in PETE containers has been the subject of much investigation, particularly at higher temperatures. Antimony from polyester clothes, on the other hand, has been shown to be harmful to the wearer.
According to a 2013 Greenpeace study on chemicals in clothes,
Antimony was found in the textiles of all 36 products tested, which were made of polyester or a combination of polyester and other fibres.
This is really alarming. Antimony levels identified in textiles were not adequate to create health concerns, according to a 2003 Danish government-funded investigation of chemicals found in textiles.
Perhaps the following remark best encapsulates the PETE safety issue:
“‘4, 5, 1, and 2,” I used to say. All of the others are harmful to your health. That’s something I’m no longer saying. We have no idea regarding 4, 5, 1, or 2. This raises concerns regarding the use of all plastic bottles.”
Shanna Swan of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry cites a 2009 German research that discovered estrogen-like compounds in bottled water.
Polyethylene Terephthalate and Going Green
If the relationship between health and polyethylene terephthalate is a little hazy, the same can be said about the environment.
PETE, according to industry organizations, is a responsible environmental choice:
PETE is a completely recyclable material (identifiable by recycling symbol number 1). In the United States, PETE is the most recycled plastic.
When compared to glass and aluminum, it is a more energy-efficient packaging material.
The raw material level consumes 40% of PETE’s energy, making recycled PETE much less energy-demanding than “new.”
It’s extremely light, which means it uses less energy to transport.
Concerns about Polyethylene Terephthalate in the Environment
PETE, on the other hand, is not biodegradable and cannot be avoided. It stays in our environment for a long time after it is generated. With it comes a slew of environmental issues.
Microplastics are one environmental issue connected with PETE usage. According to a study published in Polymers in 2018,
“At the moment, microplastic contamination poses a direct threat to the environment, food safety, and even human health. One of the most prevalent microplastics is polyethylene terephthalate (PET).”
PETE can pollute water in addition to contributing to microplastic contamination and being non-biodegradable.
Furthermore, it is a high-energy process. Polyester takes a lot more energy to make than more natural options like hemp and cotton, whether conventional or organic.
Is PET / PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Safe for Your Baby?
When it comes to selecting whether to use PET or PETE in your baby’s nursery, each family must consider the benefits and drawbacks for themselves, as well as consult with their pediatrician.
Most health agencies regard PETE to be a “safer plastic” at the time of writing.
However, the research is still in progress, so it’s difficult to predict what the ultimate judgement will be.
Polyethylene Terephthalate FAQs
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