The Anchorage Health Department organizes an educational program for all child care providers to address the chemical ingredients found in foam padding. Read on for more.
‘Bright Cities’ Educational Program in Anchorage
The Anchorage Health Department announced that the materials found in foam padding contained chemical flame retardants, and they believe that there are better alternatives. This move resulted in an initiative for the search of other options for mattress foams that are commonly used and also an initiative for further education of child care providers in Anchorage.
Cady Lynn O’Brien, the owner of the Creative Learning preschool in Anchorage, decided to speak about the conference she attended at the Anchorage Health Department, and she emphasized that this kind of initiative was an excellent idea.
She stated that even if you were a parent or a child care provider, it could be the first time you heard that there are dozens of harmful ingredients found in household products. At the training, the focus was more on nap mats and toxic ingredients in them that could hurt a child’s development. Nap mats were the main topic since this was the one thing all parents and child care facilities use.
The flame retardants found in these mats are specifically designed to inhibit the spread of fire in the material, so these ingredients were included for the sole reason of complying with fire safety rules. Moreover, many furniture manufacturers add this material to their products, so you can surely find these chemicals in your household products too.
A study from 2018 showed that those chemical retardants could be very harmful when in direct exposure to the products. The same study reported that from all the materials this substance could be found in, nap mats were the most significant source of flame retardants at the market.
Pamela Miller, the executive director at the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, was the leader of this training, and she stated that she was happy that there was a simple solution to this problem — we need to remove these products from all children facilities. She added that if we were confident that direct exposure to these chemicals could hurt our children’s development, we needed to react quickly.
O’Brien added that she left the conference feeling concerned about her child’s safety since these toxic chemicals can be found in children’s toys as well.
She also added that she covered those mats, so they stayed appealing and interesting to children, even though she had no knowledge of the harmful ingredients found in them.
Miller believes that this could be an alternative solution if the facilities are not able to replace the mats right away.
O’Brien was so shaken up by the information she had received at the training that she started with changes in her preschool almost immediately after the conference. She removed all plastic toys with number 3 on them.
She learned at the training that most products that contain chemical flame retardants are marked with “TB-117-2013” or just number 3 at the bottom of the package. At least, manufacturers should be obliged to mark the presence of these chemicals.
Miller emphasized that not all products were labeled since many manufacturers found their way out of these regulations, so she warns all parents to double-check all of their products.
Lastly, she added that she had gathered a significant number of mats at the training and sent them to Duke University for further analysis of the materials.
If the results show that all products contain chemical flame retardants, she will take upon herself to organize the funding for the purchase and replacement of all existing mats in the country. She also plans on expanding this program worldwide.