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Beware of organic mattresses and sofas

(6 Posts)
jennymor123 Sun 19-Jun-16 14:39:14

There are a lot of companies selling 'organic' or 'natural' mattresses and sofas. Normal sofas and mattresses tend to contain a lot of flame retardant chemicals in order to meet the tough flammability requirements of the UK's laws. There are serious concerns about the health effects of flame retardants - to the point where the US changed its laws a couple of years ago to allow their furniture to be free of flame retardants.

Lots of people in the UK are keen to find sofas/mattresses that are flame retardant-free. However, the truth is that most of the products being sold as 'organic' or 'natural' either cheat by using flame retardants anyway or by not complying with the flammability laws. While some people may not care about the latter if it means no chemicals, the company is breaking the law and failing to warn customers that its products are highly flammable.

A common filling used in organic mattresses is natural latex. This substance is highly flammable (goes up like car tyres) and cannot possibly pass the fillings test for the UK laws without chemical assistance.

I've taken up this issue with some manufacturers. The pattern is that first they try to blind me with science - tell me they comply with the requirements but the standards they cite are not the correct ones. When I ask them specifically if they pass the UK fillings test, their behaviour becomes evasive and then threatening.

One such company is based in Wales. They were unable to provide proof that their latex fillings comply with the law. They did offer to provide me with a special mattress containing latex treated with silicone! When I pointed out that they are selling illegal and highly flammable products, they accused me of being rude and cut me off! Which means they are not going to do anything about the illegal products they've so far supplied or those that they continue to supply.

I'm all for chemical-free products but companies should not if they're illegal and dangerously flammable.

OrlandaFuriosa Sun 19-Jun-16 14:41:24

In that case should they not be reported to h&s executive and advertising trading standards? Or have you and what response did you get?

jennymor123 Mon 20-Jun-16 16:21:11

Yes, I have contacted Trading Standards about this. They agreed it's an issue but haven't investigated, as far as I'm aware. I suspect the problem is fundamentally down to TS's funds being cut massively over the past year or so. If they want to test one of these mattresses, they have to buy on and they can cost thousands. Having said that, I don't really know why they can't ask the questions I've been asking and receive the same dodgy answers, then investigate. Another factor may be that these companies provide local jobs.

OrlandaFuriosa Mon 20-Jun-16 17:26:39

Thanks for the warning, anyway.

DesolateWaist Mon 20-Jun-16 17:30:50

chemical-free products
First of all everything is made from chemicals. are they able to get away with selling products that don't have the flame retardant product on them? When I was trying to give a sofa away a lot of places wouldn't take it because it didn't have the tag.

Part of me does think though that is the lack of flame retardantness is made clear to the consumer then that is their choice.

jennymor123 Mon 20-Jun-16 17:45:14

"First of all everything is made from chemicals"

Of course. What we're talking about here are flame-retardant chemicals, essentially.

" are they able to get away with selling products that don't have the flame retardant product on them? When I was trying to give a sofa away a lot of places wouldn't take it because it didn't have the tag."

There is no requirement under UK flammability laws to use flame retardant chemicals. Mattresses have to pass the required tests but it's up to the manufacturers how they do so. It's just that flame retardants is the preferred route and, as I said earlier, with some fillings like natural latex it isn't possible to pass the test without some kind of non-natural additive.

The presence of the label on your sofa is a requirement of the law but it isn't connected to flame retardants.

It isn't a matter of consumer choice as to whether or not the mattress they're buying complies with the law. It has to.

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