Does Your Child’s Mattress Contain Fiberglass?

Does Your Child’s Mattress Contain Fiberglass? The manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of products designed for children need to take precautions to ensure their products are safe for children. A recent lawsuit involving mattresses made with fiberglass for children illustrates how dangerous toxins and other product defects can be for children.

A class action lawsuit was filed against Zinus, Inc. a South Korean manufacturer, after numerous reports that fiberglass fibers in its line of mattresses can escape, causing skin and respiratory disorders and environmental contamination.

In an illustrative case, Vanessa Gutierrez noticed that both her daughters developed health problems after she purchased a mattress from Zinus. Her nine-year-old daughter developed asthma flare-ups, while her five-month-old daughter developed sores and rashes that looked like “little paper cuts all over the back of her legs.” Ms. Gutierrez is a plaintiff in a legal claim alleging that flame-resistant fiberglass fibers in the mattress made by Zinus can escape causing severe health problems for children.

Similar lawsuits against other manufacturers of “bed-in-a-box mattresses” that contain fiberglass have been filed. The sale of mattresses through e-commerce has become big business. Unfortunately, the oversight of bedding materials is slow – including poor labeling requirements. Consumers have learned through usage (not warnings) that some of the materials in the mattresses are ill-suited for consumer use because of the fiberglass ingredient.

Exposure to fiberglass can use eye, nose, and throat irritations, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC). The CPSC, according to the LA Times article, states that man-made vitreous fibers are not generally known to cause long-term health problems.

The United States and California both regulate the flame-resistant products furniture makes uses. Some chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl etherstris phosphate (TCEP), and chlorinated tris (TDCPP) have been found to be toxic to humans – causing cancer, disruption of the endocrine system, and other health disorders. Both TDCPP and TCEP are identified as carcinogenic under California Proposition 65.

In 2015, California banned the use of “toxic flame-retardant chemicals.” Effective January 2020, the ban was extended to include mattresses. In response, many low-cost makers of mattresses began to use fiberglass as a substitute for toxic chemicals. According to a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization, using fire-resistant materials other than fiberglass adds five dollars to the mattress price.

A California Department of Public Health study found that of the four e-commerce mattresses it tested, the Zinus memory foam mattress and an infant mattress made by Graco had “up to 1% of the fiberglass strands migrated from the inner sock layer to adjacent layers, representing a potential risk of consumer exposure if the zipper on the outer cover is opened.” Infants and children are more likely to suffer lung and skin irritation from fiberglass than adults.

Differences in federal and state labeling requirements helped create confusion about the existence of the fiberglass. The LA Times reported that makers are “able to advertise mattresses as ‘chemical-free’ on the basis that fiberglass is present in an outer layer rather than the foam pad itself.”

Zinus’s mattresses are sold through a US subsidiary and a distribution warehouse, both located in California. The class status need to be approved by a judge before it can proceed. The lawsuit seeks to have the mattress declared “defective” for Zinus to stop selling the mattress, and to pay the plaintiffs for their fiberglass cleanup costs and damages.

Zinus counters by arguing that the CPSC has not found that the mattress is hazardous. There is no requirement, though, that the CPCS find that any product is defective or subject to a recall in order to file a product liability claim in Washington. A Zinus mattress costs about $100 for a twin mattress and about $900 for a king-size mattress. Per the LA Times:

The model Gutierrez purchased for her bed was certified by the nonprofit CertiPUR-US, an organization that tests bedding for emissions, content, performance, and durability. But the certification guarantees only that the foam inside the mattress is free of any toxic flame retardants such as PBDEs, TDCCP, or TCEP. It does not reflect the content of the fiberglass-containing inner cover layer.

The CPSC states that the key is to ensure that consumers are aware that the protective outer cover is not opened or removed – and that most of the complaints involving fiberglass mattresses do involve opening and removal of the outer cover.

The plaintiffs counter by saying that the DO NOT REMOVE COVER warnings did not disclose the danger of fiberglass exposure. They also claim that just the existence of a zipper indicates the cover could be opened – otherwise, why have a zipper? Other plaintiffs, like Gutierrez, say they never opened or damaged the outer cover. Gutierrez did say that she found the fiberglass particles throughout her entire 1,100-square-foot apartment.  She says she now has close to $20,000 in damages, including damage to her household items, medical bills, and remediation costs.

Filing a product liability claim in Vancouver and Battle Ground

In Washington State, users of products have the right to file a product liability claim against the manufacturers of the product if:

  • The product was defective when used. A product is defective if the “product was not reasonably safe as designed or not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided.”
  • The defect was the proximate cause of the injuries to anyone who used or was affected by the product.

In some instances, the distributors and retailers of the product may also be liable for any injuries that occur.

Other dangerous products for children

According to Consumer Notice, other products that are known to be dangerous for children if they are defective include cribs, car seats, and toys.

The CPSC estimates that a child is injured every 30 minutes from tipped-over furniture or a falling TV. Nearly a quarter of a million toy-related injuries require emergency room care each year. Cribs, strollers, and baby carriers account for more than 50 percent of all nursery product-related injuries. According to the NHTSA, between 1997 and 2017, 125 car-seat recalls affected 37 million seats.

At Philbrook Law Firm, our Vancouver and Battle Ground product liability claims represent infants, children, teenagers, adults, and families when manufacturers place their profits ahead of the safety of you and your loved ones. We demand full compensation for all your financial and personal damages. To schedule an appointment, call us at 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form.