Fiberglass used in a mattress is being blamed for illnesses suffered by a California child.
Vanessa Gutierrez is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Zinus Inc., which made a bed-in-a-box mattress Gutiererez bought in 2019.
The lawsuit claims the fiberglass can escape, leading to health problems that include skin and respiratory tract irritation and persistent environmental contamination, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In May 2019, Gutierrez, of Sacramento, saw a spike in sores and rashes on her 5-month-old. Her 9-year-old was having asthma flare-ups.
“The baby got the worst of it,” Gutierrez said. “I thought she was overactive, but it was because she was feeling the burning.… It looked like little paper cuts all over the back of her legs.”
“I remember crying like I was at a funeral because I couldn’t believe this was happening,” she said.
Zinus offered Gutierrez $1,000 in compensation, but she turned it down and sued.
Gutierrez said she did not know what she was sleeping on until after the problem began she did some research, according to Inside Edition.
“I started going down to negative reviews on Amazon on the Zinus review for this mattress and it said fiberglass. And I couldn’t believe I was sleeping on it,” Gutierrez said particles of the substance were apparently everywhere in her home, prompting her to put her possessions in a storage unit.
“This is our clothes. This is many years of clothes that we accumulated over the years, but it’s all trash,” Gutierrez said.
Other mattress customers complained of having to throw out many items after finding the fibers all over their possessions. Some said the contamination occurred when owners unzipped the mattress cover to wash it, causing the fiberglass to spread everywhere, Inside Edition reported.
“There is a zipper on it. You would think you could wash it if there’s a zipper on it,” one customer said.
Gutierrez said her daughter has visible scars on her chest and calves she attributes to the mattress.
“All that time and safety was lost,” Gutierrez told the Times. “I didn’t feel like we had a safe place for a long time after. I thought I was providing a good home for my daughters, but I purchased the poison we were sleeping on.”
The suit comes as some mattress makers are using fiberglass to substitute for fire-retardant materials that have been banned.
Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy and research group, called the change “a regrettable substitution. Fiberglass shouldn’t be used in mattresses if it’s clear that people are being harmed by it,” she told the Times.
California’s Department of Public Health published a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in February. The student found about 1 percent of the fiberglass strands migrated from the innermost layer to the outside of the mattress, “representing a potential risk of consumer exposure if the zipper on the outer cover is opened.”
The study said the fibers “are potentially inhalable into the nose, mouth, and throat, but are likely too large to penetrate deeper into the lungs,” with children and infants having the greatest susceptibility.
Manufacturers are often less than complete with what they list on a label.
“There’s no law that says that a company has to tell you every single thing that’s in a mattress,” said Bobbi Wilding, executive director of Clean and Healthy New York, an environmental health advocacy organization, the Times reported. “So whatever they tell you is what they’re choosing to tell you, and that leaves people incredibly vulnerable because you have to just rely on what they say.”
In a statement, Zinus said the material in question is not considered hazardous by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
But its critics say differently, according to the Times.
“It’s not hyperbole to say that this has ravaged thousands of individuals’ lives from across the United States,” said James Radcliffe, a personal injury lawyer with Cueto Law, which represents Gutierrez and others suing Zinus.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.