Toxin FORMAMIDE found in your child’s EVA foam mats.

Why be concerned?

I was recently reminded by a friend that we cannot trust anyone else to take care of our health nor the health of our children.   This couldn’t be more true.
We’ve personally seen example after example how big companies and corporations make products geared for our children that are not only ‘unsafe’, but downright harmful to their health.

Do you think our government is on our side?  The hard, cold truth is that our governments (especially here in North America) are tied very tightly with these companies.   It’s a shameless journey of profit over people.

How else can we explain the dyes and artificial colours they STILL ALLOW in our food (even baby food!)
How else can we explain that toxic, lung damaging gas called “dactyl” that’s still allowed in microwavable popcorn?
How else can we explain the carcinogenic dioxins found in sanitary products for woman AND children?  (Yes, those uber absorbable and super efficient disposable diapers that you might be using ARE toxic).

And what about our precious baby’s toys?  They are among the WORST offenders.    We cannot discuss all toys in one article.  So, we will attempt to expose the truth, one item at a time.  Let’s start with those big, beautiful and colourful mats we see in most homes with children.   They’re safe, right?  They’ve got to be?

My husband Josh wrote a fantastic article about these.  Here it is.

The Big Debate

What should we put on the floor to protect our kids from banging their heads, face, knees, elbows, bum, etc?

Let’s look at our options:

  1. Carpets (dusty, collect dirt, emit toxins, stain easily)
  2. Pillows (they don’t lock together so you end up with gaps)
  3. Hardwood & Ceramic (will hurt to fall on)
  4. Cork (expensive but beautiful and more sustainable)
  5. Bails of hay (good if you have farm animals living with you)
  6. Mattresses (my personal favorite)
  7. Balls (their room would be like a giant ball room)
  8. Foam mats (the MOST popular option and apparently they are the most toxic)

imaginarium-36-piece-alphabet-and-numbers-mat-11773791-01So what did we do when we were kids?

When I asked my own mother what we used to play on, she said that our generation had to be tough.  There were no ‘foam mats’ or anything like that.  We had many more bumps on our heads, carpet burns on our knees and bruises to show.  I suppose, you can get a ‘burn’ from mat, but those carpet burns are something else.  Remember?  Ouch!

Let’s take a closer look at foam mats (considering almost every home has them today)

Just recently the ANSES (French agency that conducted a giant 240 page study on foam mats) published it’s giant report…( in FRENCH of course)

I am going to give you the Joshua notes on this report.  What’s that?  You’re not familiar with the Joshua Notes.  Oh, let me explain.  Take Cole’s notes and shorten them by about 90% and you have Joshua Notes.

Ok, back to the topic at hand…

The brief answer is that that FORMAMIDE was found in these foam mats… but it is much more complicated than that.

Oh by the way, if you have kids, know kids or are planning on having kids, you should read this.

North America is SO FAR BEHIND THE TIMES.  We should all be reading news from Europe.

In 2010 (yes 2010), Belgian and France authorities PULLED all the popular foam floor mats from retailers because of the high levels of FORMAMIDE (which is a highly toxic industrial chemical) they were emitting.  These countries then enfored a temporary BAN in order to do further testing on the harmful effects.

LINKS TO OTHER ARTICLES

You’re right, we never heard about this on ANY news station here in North America.  However, there were a lot of parents inquiring about the toxicity of these floor mats.

Even with this great report and the information we have there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to WHY is FORMAMIDE in this product? WHY are retailers still selling them?  WHAT are all the dangers associated with this?  WHAT precautions should we take?

I like to think if we don’t have answers to these questions, we should STOP using these products immediately and find (or create) a SAFE alternative.  Our kids are worth far more that what many large corporations place on them.  They are not commodities and test subjects.  They deserve safe and clean environments.

So WHAT exactly is FORMAMIDE and why is it in our kid’s foam mats?

Formamide is classified as a reprotoxic substance (reproductive toxicity includes adverse effects on sexual function and fertility in adult males and females, as well as developmental toxicity in the offspring) and is used primarily in the chemical, pharmaceutical, plastics and polymer industries as a solvant, plasticiser or as an additive to foam blowing agents.

So it makes perfect sense that this is put in our kids products.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME.  There should be a big warning label on ALL of these packages that look something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 1.31.11 PM

Trickery

France has already banned FORMAMIDE as a plasticizer and additive for EVA foam.  However… many products get imported from Asia and they don’t really have ANY standards.

To make matters worse, many companies now claim that their mats contain NO FORMAMIDE and they may be honest in saying that or they may be still be wrong.  FORMAMIDE has changed names (like many chemicals) and may now appear as a ‘bi-product’ or the manufacturing process, THUS not being contained in the ingredients for production of the product.

So do they really need this in the mats?

Best guess is NO!  Sorry, let me rephrase that, HECK NO!
Considering that some mats show trace amounts (10-20 mg/kg) while other companies show amounts over 1,300 mg/kg means they don’t really need this chemical to make these mats.  It is a cheap additive and an easy way to use toxic sludge they have as bi-products from other manufacturing processes (that is a story for another day).  Think about it… imagine all the toxic sludge these companies have that should be disposed of… OR, if they put just a little in a lot of product, it can’t be that toxic and no one will really know.  It gives you that NEW TOY smell (aka the Toy’s R Us smell).

L_prod_mat001There Must Be some Dangers Associated With FORMAMIDE.

I will keep this simple…
FORMAMIDE targets the hematopoietic (these are the organs that help us form blood… I am assuming this is pretty important to survival) and reproductive systems.  Studies suggest a carcinogenic effect (in the form of tumors… again, not something anyone wants to get).  They are saying that more research needs to be done to find out more details on the toxicity of this product.

In my opinion, if it is toxic at all we need to keep it away from out kids.  I’m pretty sure no matter how much research they do, they are NOT going to come back and say this toxic chemical is safe.

What Are The Health Risks?

The study found that exposure to FORMAMIDE came almost exclusively from inhalation.

The strongest and most toxic time is when you first purchase these mats and take them out of the package.  If you are going to purchase these, PLEASE find used ones or if you have to buy new, buy them a few months in advance and let them sit in the garage for a few months to off-gas.

Let me wrap this up for you and give you the main points of this 240 page french study:

  1. FORMAMIDE is BAD.  Stay away and avoid if you can.  Anything that is classified as a TOXIC SUBSTANCE should be avoided at all costs.
  2. Exposure to this harmful toxin comes by way of breathing it in.  Now picture this… how much closer is your childs mouth to the floor than yours?
  3. Avoid buying new
  4. A health risk is a health risk weather it is small or big. Don’t be fooled by people who say there is only a 5% chance.  That means there is a 5% chance!!!!!!!  That means 5 out of every 100 babies can be a victim.
  5. Avoid EVA foam products.  Most would have this toxic chemical in it and most will never have to disclose if it is.  Plus, it’s a cumulative effect.  The more we’re exposed the worse it is.

Questions We have Received Already:

What if you already own these foam mats?

If it has been more than 90 days, the toxic fumes have had a chance to “off gas” (somewhat)
If not, put them outside for a few months, or go find used ones.

I want to buy foam mats, what do I do?

Look for brands that are BPA and FORMAMIDE Free.  This is not easy here in North America.
Even it says that on the label, when you unpack them keep them in a garage or outside for at least a week (or as long as possible).
Here’s what I say:  if you are that concerned, consider not buying them at all.

You want to be an informed consumer.  This will enable you to make better choices and decisions when it comes to your health and the health of your family.

I hope this little article proved to be somewhat helpful.

Joshua
Naturally Down To Earth Daddy

***For more coaching on how to live free from toxins, email us here for more info:  naturallydowntoearth1@gmail.com

 

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Margaux

Margaux

Founder and Co-owner at Naturally Down To Earth
Margaux is an alternative health and toxin free living advocate, activist, mother, Doula and consultant for stay at home mothers wanting to create their own companies. She's the founder of "The Best Deodorant In The World (thebestdeodorantintheworld.com) an all natural deodorant that will be featured at the Golden Globes. Her articles have become a wealth of knowledge for many people around the globe.

5 comments

  1. Holly van den Hof

    Hi there,
    I have a set of these mats and immediately removed them from our play room, it has been over 90 days since we got them but…
    my question is … Is there any harm if children put them in their mouth/ chew on the numbers/ letters, my kids are 29 months and 9 months, and my youngest still has no teeth and chews on the mats and my oldest does every so often because little sister thinks it funny.
    Thanks! Great to find out ill be telling all my mommy friends to stay away from these!

    • Margaux

      Hey Holly,
      I would say it’s definitely not a great idea for anyone, but especially children, to chew or bite on these types of mats. They are known to ‘off gas’ for a really, really long time, creating VOCs in the environment. When/if they are chewed on, there is always a possibility of inhalation. Thanks so much for the comment.
      ~ Margaux

  2. Hi Margaux,
    there is another alternative to EVA foam mats. It’s called cosyplay and I developed it after I had my third baby. All the materials used are toxin free, I had them tested for chemicals that are not even legislated against, just to convince myself my products are super safe. I have a PhD in chemistry, 4 kids and a conscience, hence I can absolutely say there are no nasty surprises lurking in my play mats.
    Unfortunately they are only available in the UK for now. But with patents recently granted in Europe and pending in the US it is only a matter of time until we make it to your shores.
    I would be interested to hear what you think about cosyplay.

  3. I use a mat by dwinguler that is supposed to be toxic free. I hope it’s safe enough for my kids. My daughter has never been the chewer type but I’m not sure about the 2nd baby.

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