Q. Dear Umbra,
I appetite to buy some mats for my 4-year-old to comedy on and do gymnastics at home. All the “nontoxic” kids’ playmats accept to be fabricated of EVA foam, but I accept the consequence that about annihilation “foam” (other than accustomed acrylic foam) ability be either bad for the ambiance or bad for kids (i.e., flame-retardant chemicals). Is EVA cream OK? Any added options you would recommend? I did see some mats fabricated of accustomed rubber, and of advance they were actual expensive.
Jaysa Z.Boston, Massachusetts
A. Dearest Jaysa,
In a apple area alike the best innocent-looking articles charge be approached with suspicion — babyish mattresses blood-soaked in blaze retardants, estrogenic sippy cups, off-gassing Barbies — it can accept that actuality a astute ancestor requires an avant-garde allure amount and admission to atomic assay tools. Can’t I buy one abuse toy after annoying about it contagion my kid? I brainstorm parents all over the apple buzz in an affronted chorus.
But no charge to aces up that chem textbook, Jaysa. I’m blessed to go to the mat to advice you ascertain out the safest articles for your young’un. You’re on the appropriate clue attractive for controllable playmats: The archetypal options out there (like the folding mats all-over in the elementary academy gyms of my youth) are fabricated from polyurethane foam, which you’ve accurately articular as acceptable to accommodate cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting blaze retardants. And they’re about covered with vinyl to boot, authoritative them a bifold no-no. You are astute to beacon clear.
This brings us to EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam, which is about advised to be a safer another to polyurethane foams. You’ve apparently apparent EVA cream in the anatomy of those bright puzzle-piece attic mats. But how safe is it, really? I’m abashed the reviews are a bit alloyed on this one.
On one hand: Research out of Europe about six years ago apparent that some EVA cream kids’ mats independent a actinic alleged formamide. It’s rather abandoned stuff, affiliated to blight and changeable issues. Belgium and France bound allowable austere banned on formamide in playmats on the market, and the U.K. additionally appear restrictions, admitting added allowing ones. (One added bang adjoin EVA: It is actual adamantine to recycle.)
But on the added hand, added experts altercate that although playmats can afford formamide, it’s in such baby doses as to affectation no absolute blackmail to aerobatics toddlers. Research in Australia begin that accouchement would accept to “mouth” a mat for 20 account (or eat four aboveboard meters of foam!) every day for the blow of their lives to do themselves any absolute harm. (That’s a from the digestive complications abiding to appear from bistro any foam, I assume.)
I don’t like to overreact to affairs like this, Jaysa. But there does accept to be abundant accurate affair about EVA cream to adjure the old “better safe than sorry” clause.
Since you haven’t yet arrive EVA mats into your home, I’d attending for an alternative. Spendy accustomed rubber/latex mats are one option, yes. You can additionally acquisition mats fabricated from cork, amoebic cotton, and controllable polyethylene foam, admitting you’ll accept to adjudicator if they’re boxy abundant for a 4-year-old’s handstands and somersaults (versus an infant’s affable explorations). Or how about application several layers of comforters or quilts on the floor? That ability accommodate aloof the beanbag your beginning aerialist needs.
Another agency to accede about EVA cream mats: Research shows that off-gassing is best astute aback mats are brand-new, with formamide emissions bottomward appreciably aural a month. So you could attending to buy such playmats used, or accumulate new ones alfresco and abroad from your kids for a month.
And if all of this altercation over aloof one of the boilerplate kiddo’s abounding accessories has you exhausted, don’t forget: Wooden blocks, cornhusk dolls, and string-and-on buzzers formed aloof accomplished for our great-grandparents, and I account they’re due to appear aback in style.
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