GUADALUPE, AZ (3 On Your Side) -- In front of Erlinda Aguilar's home in Guadalupe, there is a trailer full of her family's belongings wrapped in sealed plastic bags.

Aguilar says her 17-year-old daughter's foam mattress shed fiberglass that contaminated her home. The bedding, the clothes, and the washer and dryer all had to be removed from the house.

"It's over $4,000 and still adding up," Aguilar told 3 On Your Side. "If you look at the mattress at night, you can see fiberglass on there. It shimmers."

Even Aguilar's younger daughter's belongings in a separate room weren't spared.

"I lost my teddy bears and my Minnie Mouse bed," Yvette said.

Aguilar says the fiberglass also caused very real health issues.

"It was itching [my daughter]. It would poke her," she said. "I have asthma, so I was having a hard time with my asthma trying to breathe."

3 On Your Side first reported on this issue in March. The Richie family, from Prescott, lost almost everything in their home because of fiberglass contamination from two foam mattresses that were purchased for their young sons. Since then, half a dozen others have reached out to 3 on Your Side with similar stories.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fiberglass is a common component in a variety of products, often used to add strength and fire-resistance.

"Every story is just horrible," said Lloyd Cueto, a St. Louis-based attorney who filed a class action lawsuit against mattress manufacturer, Zinus. He claims the company uses zippered mattress covers, which do not properly contain the glass fibers.

"If you use glass fibers, then everything else in the manufacturing process has to be much more secure, and a lot more has to be done to make sure these fibers don’t get released," Cueto argued.

Zinus pointed to its website, which says "the mattress cover isn’t washable…. so please always leave the cover on.” In court documents, the company also argues fiberglass is “a useful and safe fire-retardant material.”

It's not just Zinus. According to Cueto, this is an industry-wide problem with inexpensive bed-in-a-box mattresses. 

"If something is so dangerous, why is it removable?" asked Amanda Richie.

Richie bought her sons' mattresses through an online marketplace. The tags had been removed, so she doesn't know who manufactured the products. There was no warning label to avoid removing the covers, so she washed both covers immediately after purchasing the mattresses.

"There’s no mother on earth that wouldn’t take zippered white cover and wash it," Richie said.

Anissa Bejarano, a Scottsdale mother, says she also unzipped a foam mattress cover to wash it, unleashing glass fibers throughout her home.

"We kept showering and showering and still having this itching," Bejarano said. "It was nose issues. Then it was congestion."

The Zinus mattress in Aguilar's home was just a couple years old and had a zipper on it. She says the cover was never removed, but somehow the fiberglass still escaped.

"It's heartbreaking because all our hard work, everything we worked for, their clothes," Aguilar said. "It's gone."

The CPSC says it is important to follow manufacturers' instructions for washing and drying any product, including mattress covers and mattress pads.

In the class action lawsuit against Zinus, the judge dismissed some of the claims, but allowed attorneys to amend their complaint. Zinus now has time to file a new response.

 

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