Meanwhile, about boric acid: this is another gray area. Yes, it is used as roach poison but mainly by people looking for natural pesticides. There are some out there that say it's highly toxic and others who deem it safe, or at least safer than other government-required flame retardants. A study done by Seattle, WA based Intertox, Inc. states that boric acid (aka Boron#10) is not toxic.
The lovely people over at HealthyChild.org say borate powder has "questionable toxicity" and recommend borate-free mattresses (i.e. organic ones). They also go on to point out, "By all means, borate powder is certainly less toxic than the typical chemical fire retardants added to ordinary mattresses." They've compiled a lot of information on boric acid, though all of it refers to its toxicity when used as a pesticide. I haven't yet figured out a way to link this info to the amount used or exposure level in mattresses. Has anyone else? Email me, I'd love to know.
A few highlights from Healthy Child I felt were worth sharing:
"Boron is a naturally-occurring element in the earth's crust and background levels even circulate in the human bloodstream. The EPA considers boric acid as a moderately acutely toxic due to acute effects including oral and dermal toxicity, and eye and skin irritation. The EPA has classified boric acid as a 'Group E' carcinogen, indicating that it shows 'evidence of noncarcinogenicity' for humans. In reproductive and developmental toxicity studies using rats, mice and rabbits, maternal liver and kidney effects and decreased weight gain as well as decreased fetal body weights were observed. In two studies, at the highest dose levels, no litters were produced. Prenatal mortality occurred at the highest dose levels in the rabbit study. Boric acid does not cause mutagenicity. Boric acid is practically nontoxic to birds, fish, aquatic invertebrates, and relatively nontoxic to beneficial insects. It's noncrop herbicidal use may harm endangered or threatened plants, and therefore EPA is requiring three phytotoxicity studies to assess these risks."
White Lotus Home is one company offering green (not organic) cotton futons that don't contain boric powder. In the U.S., you currently need a doctor's note to buy borate-free versions. They're not cheap. Check with them about Canada? While you're at it, another thing to think about is the layer of bedding that will be closest to the kids. Avoid permanent press sheets and go for organic cotton versions. Look into pure pillows and buy wool puddle pads instead of plastic or vinyl sheeting. All of these can be found at www.daxstores.com.
I wish I had a more black and white answer. All of this said, buying from America is probably less expensive now that our dollar is shot, no?
Hope this helps. Congrats on #2.
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