The Health Ministry opposes the government’s plans to turn an optional standard for fire retardants in mattresses to become mandatory.
Prof. Itamar Grotto, the head of public health, said that such a standard, optional in Europe, should not become universal because the chemicals used “can cause cancer.”
The story, which was published on a two-page center spread in the Yediot Aharonot daily on Monday, caused panic among retailers of mattresses and people planning to buy new ones.
Grotto said his office has quietly opposed plans for a mandatory standard in meetings of standards committees.
He did not explain what it would do if all new mattresses sold were required to use the chemicals to prevent fires in bedrooms.
Sleeping on the floor wouldn’t be helpful either, he told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, because “the gases will circulate around the room anyway.”
If the standard does not become a requirement, Grotto continued, “it is safe to say that most mattresses will not be sold with flame retardants because the manufacturers and importers will have no interest in introducing the chemicals.”
The Firefighting and Rescue Authority, which proposed a mandatory standard, said the Health Ministry is “invited to define its demands for flame retardants that don’t endanger health.”