February 12, 2022 – Saturday
Hello Lead Safe Mama readers! As many of you know I have been on the road traveling (helping families directly – all over the country) for most of the past month. I am just getting caught up this weekend on my writing and posting new information since there is not a lot of opportunity for me to write while I am on the road – so I am late in posting this. The owners of Medley Home sent this letter to me on January 20, 2022. Scroll down and click the image below to have the full two-page PDF in one place.
Some thoughts in response to the letter (& issue) below:
- Good job guys! Medley is doing an amazing job handling a problem that was not of their own making. I am confident they will fully resolve this issue to the satisfaction of all of their customers and I look forward to checking out their future product offerings.
- More testing of Medley products! In the past month I have had the opportunity to test three more Medley Home pieces of furniture (a couch, a chair and a table). Each of these pieces of furniture tested negative for toxicants in all components – reinforcing the conclusion that this situation was a batch-specific anomaly (and so has finite parameters which are being identified in moving forward towards resolving the issue.)
- Medley Home is not the only company impacted: I am about to publish findings from another product (from another manufacturer), that was also made with CertiPUR-US® certified non-toxic foam — and for which the “certified” foam also tested positive for heavy metals (at alarming levels in fact), so stand by for that post (it is a crib mattress from a popular baby product manufacturer).
- Demand independent testing: These additional findings clearly suggest that the issue with CertiPUR-US® (fundamentally the question of the validity of this certification) goes far beyond any issues that Medley Home has had with the certified ‘non-toxic’ foam products that they used in some of their sofas. At this point, I would now be suspicious of any products whose ‘non-toxic’ claims are based on the CertiPUR-US® certification — and, at this point, if I were a customer of a furniture brand that used any CertiPUR-US® “certified” foam in their products, I would ask to see independent testing conducted by the furniture manufacturer (i.e. I would not rely on the CertiPUR-US® certification alone). [More on this in my upcoming post.]
- “Only Two”: I am not saying that all CertiPUR-US® “certified” foam products are toxic / testing positive for heavy metals. What is clear is that with three examples of products (from two different companies) testing positive for heavy metals in the span of a single year, this calls into question the validity of the CertiPUR-US® foam certification (both the integrity of the certification itself and the process by which they certify foam for use in products.) So far I have found “only two” companies using these certified foam products with samples of the foam that have tested positive for heavy metals (Medley and Graco).
- Context is everything: My findings must be held in context however as I do not test much furniture and for me to find TWO companies with metals in their CertiPUR-US® foam given the limited amount of foam testing I do it is reasonable to assume there may be many more examples out there.
- Said another way (more context): This is especially concerning (that I have found two brands using CertiPUR-US® foam that has tested positive for heavy metals) given the fact that I test so few examples of foam containing furniture (relative to the other product testing I do.)
- Some CertiPUR-US® has also tested negative for heavy metals: I have also tested two different products from a third company that uses CertiPUR-US® certified foam (the Nugget couches with both the original cream colored and with the newer black colored foam – link with details here) and each of those product examples were negative for heavy metals.
- Five CertiPUR-US® products tested. These five sets of product test results (2 x Medley Home, 2 x Nugget, 1 x Graco) are not enough data points to conclude much beyond the specific test results for the specifics products tested EXCEPT one can logically draw the conclusion that there appears to be an issue with the CertiPUR-US® certification. EWG also wrote about this recently (February 2022 – link).
- What about the Arsenic? One question I do have for Medley is “What was the limit of detection for the Arsenic testing that they had done that resulted in the ‘non-detect’ result?” Given the results I found were in the 10 to 26 ppm range (which is decidedly not negative and within the range of valid testing for the instrument I use), if their low threshold of detection were above that (for example 30 ppm or 50 ppm), that would / could result in the “non-detect” reading that they received with the testing they have done. UPDATE: The limit of detection for Arsenic on the lab reports they shared (linked on their website) appears to be 3 and 4 parts per million (two test reports each show a different limit of detection.) I will do some more research into this to try to determine the reason for the discrepancy between the lab’s findings and my XRF testing (it might have to do with the XRF’s way of processing the density of the product tested).
- I cannot reiterate enough that Medley’s response to this issue is exactly what I would expect from an ethical, responsible company! I think they are doing a great job — especially considering that they have been faced with a relatively significant and unexpected challenge.
- Could it be the water? There have been some speculative theories floated regarding what might have caused the contamination of the foam [the Lead levels I found using XRF analysis, levels in a range subsequently confirmed by Medley Home’s independent laboratory testing using a digestive testing methodology]. The primary source of this speculation seems to be coming from the CertiPUR-US® agency themselves, as they appear to have a goal of seeding doubt about the source of contamination of the foam (even to the point of asserting it may have been contaminated post-production [in Medley’s factory] – which is a ridiculous theory given the Lead levels were consistent throughout the foam and not concentrated randomly on the surface.) The most preposterous theory I have heard so far is that “the foam could have been contaminated from the water source used in some part of the manufacturing process of the foam”. I wanted to address this here as it is a blatantly spurious consideration.
- Water is considered toxic/unsafe/unhealthy for humans at concentrations of 15 parts per billion (ppb) Lead and above.
- During the notorious water crisis debacle in Flint, Michigan the “peak” of the Lead in the water was reported to be in the 20 ppb range (twenty parts per billion Lead.)
- It is extremely rare to see water with a Lead concentration greater than 1,000 ppb (except in some industrially-polluted effluent)*.
- One family in Flint reported that they had their water tested and found a high in the 2,000 to 4,000 ppb (parts per billion) range, although I cannot seem to find a reference to that test online. That is the highest Lead level in water that I have ever heard of. The family likely had solid Lead service lines directly connecting with their home. Levels in this range (in water) are very rare.
- 1,000 (one thousand) parts per billion (ppb) is the equivalent measurement to 1 (one) part per million (ppm)
- EVEN IF the water used to make the CertiPUR-US® certified foam used in the Medley Home furniture was contaminated to, say, an unlikely 4,000 ppb — that would be just 4 ppm (FOUR parts per million); the Lead levels found in the Medley Home foam were found to be in the range of 150 to 312 parts per million [with Medley’s lab testing confirming levels at about 150 ppm.] Using the low end of this range that number converts to 150,000 parts per billion. 150 ppm = 150,000 ppb.
- If this were a water contamination issue — and if the water used in the manufacture of the foam deposited EVERY BIT OF THE LEAD IN THE WATER INTO THE FOAM AND IT WERE SOMEHOW EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT [likely impossible] the water would have had to be positive for levels far in excess of 150,000 parts per billion (ppb) Lead for it to deposit 150 ppm worth of Lead into the foam… which is – frankly – ridiculous and unimaginable as a potential level for Lead in water (except maybe in the case of flood waters washing through Lead tailings in a defunct Lead mine!)
- This (ridiculous theory) also would not take into account the fact that when any water used in manufacturing evaporated (or was otherwise be removed / disposed of / washed away) as part of the manufacturing process (unless the evaporation were strictly controlled with the express intention of retaining as much of the Lead as possible) a significant amount of Lead would have dissipated with any water evaporation or removal, so it is unlikely (if not 100% impossible) that a non-liquid product made with Leaded water would have Lead levels higher than the maximum possible water Lead concentrations for the water used in manufacturing the product. I have never seen an example that would support this Lead-in-water-contamination theory in all of my years in this work.
- Said another way: if a solid matter (non-liquid) end-product (like foam) were manufactured with Lead-contaminated water – given the non-liquid / non water solid additive ingredients / components of the product, the maximum possible Lead contamination of the product (imparted by the use of Leaded water) would likely be at a level LOWER THAN the contamination level of the water used (so in most cases [even if this were a possible contamination source of a product] the Lead level imparted would be LESS THAN TWENTY PARTS PER BILLION (< 20 ppb.))
- The ingredients mixed with the water to create the product would essentially (most likely) dilute the possible amount of Lead in the product (not concentrate it), just as adding milk and sugar to dark chocolate dilutes the Lead readings in chocolate (which is why milk chocolate typically has lower Lead levels than unsweetened dark chocolate products.)
- Said ANOTHER way: The requirement of evaporation / removal of any water from the foam product (for it to be a finished solid and not a liquid) would mean that the water would be unlikely to impart significant Lead levels to the product as 1. Lead contamination of water is not likely to be measurable at or above 1000 ppb (1 ppm) and 2. microparticulate Lead that has been dissolved in the water is likely to also be removed with the evaporation / removal of any water used in the process.
- All of the above reasons support why the potential for WATER LEAD CONTAMINATION to have caused the levels of Lead we found in this CertiPUR-US® certified foam is an absolutely ridiculous theory. [Please let me know if I have not explained that clearly enough and I will give another pass at editing this.]
To add one final narrative comment: Hey CertiPUR-US® ! Please take responsibility for the gaps and failings in your certification process and STOP trying to blame the ‘little guy” for simply trusting and believing that your certification is legitimate and thorough.
Thank you for reading.
Owner – Lead Safe Mama, LLC
For those new here who are just coming upon this issue for the first time… Here are all of the Lead Safe Mama posts related to this issue (in order of publication):
- Original post with findings / XRF test results: December 29, 2021
- Letter from the Executive Director of CertiPUR-US® (demanding I correct my statements / fix my language): January 18, 2022
- Post explaining language to CertiPUR-US®: January 18, 2022
- Today’s post! (You are here!)
January 20, 2022 Letter from Medley Home
Page One of Two
Uhhh. After hours spent looking at environmental friendly bed s I finally settled on Thuma and ordered one literally 2 nights ago. They use that certified foam in the headboard. I think I need to cancel and just find a sold wood frame otherwise I’ll be laying there wondering for the next decade.
Thanks for the work you do!
Hi Rebecca – you could also call them, alert them to the issue and ask them to do some independent testing of their foam to assure you that it is free of heavy metals… just one other option!
I will definitely follow up with them about it. I sent an email with a link to your website and an explanation as to why I wanted to cancel. If they’re open to independent testing that would be good. We’ll see….