In 1988 The UK Government (under some pressure from the fire dept, press and TV) decided to prevent the number of house fire started by cigarettes by making Domestic Upholstered Furniture meet specified ignition requirements. I.E. if you fell asleep smoking the settee would not go up in flames. This law also encompassed baby mattresses.
In the early 1990's a research carried out by scientist Barry Richardson and New Zealand-based chemist Jim Sprott put forward a theory that because the foam in the cot mattresses now contained fire retardant chemicals they gave off a toxic gas which caused cot deaths. This theory was taken up and highlighted by the ITV's The Cook Report in 1994. This Program caused absolute panic with new parents and Roger Cook advising parents to wrap their mattresses in clear polythene or but a mattress free of flame retardants that did not exist in the UK.
To combat this and reassure parents The Government spent £1/2 million on a Three year project to disprove the toxic gas theory and said their was no evidence to prove that fire retardants in PVC cot mattresses caused cot deaths.
Different Fire retardant chemicals were then used in foam production and also a list of advice points for parents:- Back to sleep, feet to foot, new baby new mattress, no smoking and good ventilation in the nursery, ensure your baby was not over heating, tog rating for quilts and no bumpers, if you baby was unwell seek medical advice urgently.
The use of adding flame retardant chemicals to foam was only something taken up in the UK. The rest of Europe we not interested in this exercise and positively condemned it. Interesting as we are all part of the EU and supposed to have the same standards.
Also many in the nursery industry including myself were vehemently against it. Our position was why add toxic chemicals to a baby mattress :- Are we saying that only UK babies smoke in their cots? or that only UK parents would drop a lighted cigarette in a cot with their baby sleeping in it. God forbid if the house caught fire and the baby was in the cot. It would not survive the smoke inhalation from other burning items long before the baby mattress caught fire.
We argued against fire retardant chemicals in cot mattresses for 20 years but it was always turned down.
As the years went on there was more and more questions have been raised about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
There is now a new foam being produced without the use of PDBEs
In fairness there is still no concrete evidence that the current foam produced is dangerous to health but more and more questions are being asked.
More to come about NIghtynite® Natural mattresses