The Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam runs the CertiPUR-US® program, which is a foam certification program administered by an independent organization. Only flexible polyurethane foam is approved under this scheme (latex is not certified as part of the program).
Viewing the CertiPUR-US® mark as a consumer ensures that the foam used in the product has met the program’s strict requirements.
The CertiPUR-US® program website states:
“Certified flexible polyurethane foams meet CertiPUR-US® program standards for content, emissions and durability, and are analyzed by independent, accredited testing laboratories. CertiPUR-US® approved foams are: Made without ozone depleters; PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants; without mercury, lead, and other heavy metals; without formaldehyde; and without phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They also must meet low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million). Administered by a not-for-profit organization, CertiPUR-US® is a certification program for flexible polyurethane foam used in bedding and upholstered furniture.”
CertiPUR-US® Certified Foam
CertiPUR-US® foam is foam, but it’s different.
Flexible polyurethane foam, including memory foam and other formulations, can be troublesome from an environmental and health standpoint. Some chemicals used in manufacturing can harm the environment, while others, such as fire retardants and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), have been connected to indoor air pollution and health consequences once they’ve entered your home.
These chemicals aren’t used in every foam, which is where certified foam comes in.
The Problem With Uncertified Foam
First and foremost, it’s critical to understand the terminology.
It’s more beneficial to discuss certified foam vs. uncertified foam rather than ordinary foam vs. certified foam. Just like memory foam, conventional foam is a foam composition.
In the past, fire retardants were added to the foam.
According to the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam, flammability standards for household beds and upholstery are increasingly being satisfied by utilizing a flame retardant fabric barrier or “sock” that is totally distinct from the foam. According to the email correspondence we had with them, fire retardant foam made in the United States is uncommon.
This is supported by research conducted by Duke University’s Foam Project. Duke discovered the following after testing 2215 samples of residential foam handed in by members of the public:
“Most samples had either no flame retardant or only one, while 203 samples had 2 or more flame retardant chemicals.” – Foam Project
Despite this, fire retardants can cause significant harm, particularly to children. To be on the safe side, we recommend verifying with the manufacturer or relying on independent certifications such as the CertiPUR-US® program.
It’s also worth noting that uncertified foam isn’t only about fire retardants.
According to a peer-reviewed literature study published in Building and Environment: Research and Practice in 2017,
“Mattress foam and covers, pillows, and bed frames can emit a variety of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, including phthalate plasticizers and organophosphate flame retardants, and emission rates can increase due to localized elevations in surface temperature and moisture near the bed due to close contact with the human body.”
When A Product Is Certified It Helps Provide A Sense Of Certainty
The uncertified foam may or may not include some of these substances.
It’s not good news for your indoor air quality or your developmentally sensitive infant if your foam mattress contains those toxins. And sleeping on it might exacerbate the symptoms.
The major issue with uncertified foam is that you never know if it contains those chemicals or not. With approved foam, you can be sure of the following:
“CertiPUR-US certified foams prohibit phthalates regulated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as well as organophosphate FRs.”
Those interested in learning more can do so by visiting the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam’s website, which has their Technical Guidelines available.
“We are completely upfront – there is nothing behind the curtain – it’s all on our website, including our entire Technical Guidelines — the basis for certification,” according to our correspondence with staff. It’s a difficult criterion to satisfy, and many foams fail and must be reformulated to match our requirements before they can be certified.”
CertiPUR-US® Foam is “Made Without” Foam
To be certified as CertiPUR-US® certified foam, it must fulfil the following requirements:
No ozone depleters were used in the production of this product.
PBDEs, TDCPP, or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants are not used.
Mercury, lead, and other heavy metals are not used in the production of this product.
No formaldehyde was used in the production of this product.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates the use of phthalates.
Indoor air quality is improved by low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions (less than 0.5 parts per million)
When you buy a product with certified foam, you can be certain that it has been thoroughly examined by independent, recognised testing facilities and satisfies CertiPUR-US® content, emissions, and durability requirements.
It’s easy to fling about words like ecologically friendly, eco-friendly, chemical-free, and non-toxic as customers (and bloggers). We have a common sense of what such phrases represent as a culture.
However, our everyday usage of these phrases isn’t always exact — and in other cases, it’s plain incorrect.
A wonderful example is chemical-free. There isn’t much in the world that is chemical-free.
While something may appear to be environmentally friendly because it is made of recycled materials, such as PETE bottles, it may not be much better for the environment than a product made of virgin resources.
Is CertiPUR-US® Foam Safe and Healthy for your Family
CertiPUR-US® certified foam, in our opinion, is a significantly superior option to uncertified foam.
It isn’t ideal, though.
The programme claims that:
“The CertiPUR-US® program prohibits only the FRs [fire retardants] that have been identified by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) as substances that may cause cancer, may cause genetic defects or may damage fertility or the unborn child (1A, 1B). Currently, we prohibit the use of the following FRs, but the list may change as science and research dictate:
- Pentabromodiphenyl ether
- Octabromodiphenyl ether
- Decabromodiphenyl ether
- Chlorinated phenols (PCP, TeCP)
- Dimethyl Methylphosphonate (DMMP)
- Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB)
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)
- Polychlorinated Terphenyls (PCT)
- Tri-(2,3-dibromo-propyl)-phosphate (TRIS)
- Tris-(aziridinyl)-phosphinoxide (TEPA)
- Tris-(2-chloroethyl)-phosphate (TCEP)
- Tris-(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)-phosphate (TDCPP)”
In other words, the program has limitations, but those limitations are determined by the best available data and develop as science advances. Unfortunately, there is minimal information accessible regarding some flame retardants on the market, which means we simply don’t know what we don’t know about some of these compounds.
Purchasing goods with CertiPUR-US® certified foam does not guarantee that they are free of all hazardous chemicals; rather, it screens for those that are widely recognized as some of the biggest offenders.
It is, however, up to you to do your own research.
If you’re looking for a foam crib mattress, seek the CertiPUR-US® seal of approval along with other certifications like GREENGUARD Gold.
For example, CertiPUR-US® certified foam is combined with additional certifications in Nook infant mattresses.
If you wish to double-check if your foam crib mattress is made with CertiPUR-US® certified foam, go to www.certipur.us/listings to see a comprehensive list of firms and brands that sell goods made with CertiPUR-US certified foam.
If you’re still unsure, contact the manufacturer for further information.
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