Over the decades, health authorities and industrial hygienists have been inconsistent and slow to limit human exposure to petroleum derived chemicals. They face institutional inertia, push back from petrochemical industry lobbyists, and political pressure from legislators financially compromised by corporate largesse. In practice, a given petrochemical must first be proven directly responsible for a specific harm before meaningful protection for humans is put in place. Chemicals receive the benefit of the doubt, people do not.
While a growing number of cities and towns are banning PU foam mattresses from landfills because they are toxic and cannot safely biodegrade, they remain in our bedrooms where we sleep, make love and play with our children. Most people know little about these toxic products, in part because they cannot see the harm with their own eyes, but mostly because as in the 1950s, big government and big industry still care more for money than they care for you. On mattresses, as on cans of tuna contaminated with mercury, no warning label can found.
Tonight most people will lay down on a plastic mattress made from oil
When polyurethane foam mattresses were first introduced there was no conscious intention to cause harm. But as the unintended consequences became known, as the money rolled in, profits were prioritized over all other considerations. Maintaining that priority required, and still requires today, suppression, diminishment, deflection and dismissal of information and knowledge about illness, death, environmental contamination and degradation associated with polyurethane foam mattresses, fire retardants and today’s oil soaked lifestyle.
Kept in the dark by commercial design and political complicity, tonight most people will lay down on a plastic mattress made from oil, unaware of the consequences for themselves, for everyone, and for every living thing. That is what lies beneath you.
Author’s Note: All facts and information referenced in the Why Now? series, including facts and information about chemicals and their impacts on human health and environment, have been drawn from previously published sources in the European Union, United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and India. Sources include national and state government documents, government funded agencies, national and international corporations, peer reviewed research from universities, the industrial safety industry, material data safety sheets, worker’s compensation board records, articles published in major newspapers, articles published by national and international news reporting services, published authors respected in their fields, and reports and studies published by reputable nonprofits and environmental organizations. Len Laycock