How Are Mattresses Toxic

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Are These Toxic Materials In Your Mattress?

One of the most surprising things about toxic chemicals in mattresses is howincredibly commonthey are. In fact, mattresses that are off-gassing harmful VOCs, and emitting toxic chemicals seem to be the norm, and not the exception. Even worse, this is true even of many mattresses claiming to be “organic” or “all-natural.”

How can this be? Why do mattress companies use materialsknown to be toxic? How can youprotect yourself and your familyfrom exposure?

In this article, we’ll show you 4 common mattress materials that you should avoid. We’ll show you exactlywhy you should avoid them.And we’ll show youwhy manufacturers are still using these toxic chemicals, despite their health risks.

So let’s begin our countdown of common, but toxic mattress materials.

1. Foam

Foam is made from petroleum using a “witches brew” of toxic chemicals. Over time, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from foam are released into the air where you are exposed to them. Also, because foam is highly flammable, a large amount of toxic flame retardants are often added. Foam is still widely used in mattresses because it is cheap to produce.

What Makes Foam Toxic?

Both Polyurethane Foam and Memory Foam are petroleum-based. First, that means they are made with a “witches brew” of toxic chemicals (more on that soon). Second, they break down over time, causing major off-gassing of VOCs into the air you breath. And third, they are extraordinarily flammable. Some fire marshals have even nick-named foam “Solid Gasoline.” As a result, these beds are often soaked in the most powerful and dangerous chemical flame retardants.

How Can Foam Affect Your Health?

The harmful chemicals used to make foam break down over time. In fact, a polyurethane foam mattress loses HALF its weight over ten years of use! [source]. Where does the weight go? It’s released into the air around you and you breathe in this chemical dust.

How can these chemicals harm you? Here’s a short list:

  • Propylene oxide and TDI (two chemicals used to make Polyurethane Foam) have been shown tocause mammary tumors.[Sources: Propylene oxide,TDI]
  • Toluene, aneurotoxin, off-gasses from polyurethane foam products. [Source]
  • The EPA considers polyurethane foam fabrication facilities potential major sources of several hazardous air pollutants including methylene chloride, toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and hydrogen cyanide. [Source]
  • The VOCs off gassed from foam can irritate the eye, nose, and throat, cause headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea, and damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
  • Some VOCs may even cause cancer, after prolonged exposure.
  • Also, because foam isextra flammable, foam mattresses are usuallydrenchedin harmful, chemical flame retardants (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Why do Manufacturers Still Use Foam?

Foam iswidelyused in mattresses because it isinexpensive and lightweight.

How do Manufacturers Market Foam?

There are two-ways mattresses companies try to market foam, but don’t be fooled.

First, mattress companies will claim that their mattress uses“Plant-based foams.”But what theydon’ttell you is that they only use a small percentage of plant oil (5-20%). The other 80-95% is still good ‘ol Polyurethane Foam! So what they are really making is Polyurethane Foam mattresses with a tiny bit of plant oils added for marketing purposes! [Source]

The second marketing strategy for foam is the “CertiPUR-US” certification. Guess who came up with the guidelines? According to CertiPUR-US’s own literature, “The Guidelines were established with guidance from the global foam industry.” That’s right. The global foam industry created their own guidelines for certifying that their foam is safe. That would be like letting the Global Tobacco Industry create their own guidelines for “safer cigarettes.” Not surprisingly, the CertiPUR-US certification still allows for VOC emissions!

2. Synthetic Latex

Synthetic Latex is made from two petroleum-based compounds which can pose serious health risks. Look instead for “100% Natural Latex.”

What Makes Synthetic Latex Toxic?

Synthetic Latex is made from two petroleum-based compounds,styrene and butadiene.Both of these are VOCs and can do serious harm. Also, additional toxic chemicals may be used during processing.

How Can Synthetic Latex Affect Your Health?

According to the EPA, chronic exposure to the first ingredient, styrene, can have some serious consequences, including the following [Source for below]:

  • Effects on the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression
  • Hearing loss
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • An increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma.

And the second ingredient, Butadiene,harms the nervous system, irritate eyes and skin, and may cause cancer.[Source]

Why Do Manufacturers Use Synthetic Latex?

Synthetic Latex isWAYcheaper to produce than natural latex. It can be made simply and cost effectively in a laboratory. Natural latex requires growing and harvesting the Hevea-Brasiliensis tree (better known as a rubber tree), which is time-consuming and costly.

How do Manufactures Market Synthetic Latex?

Similar to foam mattresses, companies will often start with synthetic latex, then add a bit of natural latex. They then will market the blended latex as “natural latex,” even though it is still primarily synthetic latex. Don’t be fooled. Be sure to look for 100% Natural Latex. If the company doesn’t clearly specify the percentage, they are probably blending it.

3. Chemical Flame Retardants

Chemical flame retardants, like Antimony, Boric Acid and Halogenated Flame Retardants have been linked to various health problems, some severe.

Why Are Chemical Flame Retardants Toxic?

Because Chemical Flame Retardants don’t fully bind to materials, they are released over time into your bedroom. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to serious lifelong health problems.

How Can Chemical Flame Retardants Affect Your Health?

The most common Chemical Flame Retardants areAntimony, Boric Acid, and Halogenated Flame Retardants (HFRs).Antimony is a toxic heavy metal which can cause eye, heart, and lung problems. Boric Acid (also called Borate Powder) can cause eye and respiratory irritation. Halogenated Flame Retardants may be the worst of the bunch. They are linked to severe problems that can span generations. Here’s a few of the effects found from studies of HFRs :

  • Delay puberty, delay reproductive development & cause neurobehavioral changes[Source: US Department of Health and Human Services]
  • Disrupt thyroid hormones[Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information]
  • May cause Cancer and demonstrated to harm sperm and their mobility, even across two generations[Source: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health]
  • Harm brain and nerve function. [Source]

Why Do Manufacturers Use Chemical Flame Retardants?

Mattress companies add these chemical flame retardants because it is an inexpensive way to meet federal flammability standards. There are alternatives to chemical flame retardants. For instance, Wool is able to act as a natural flame retardant, but this is more expensive and time-consuming to produce, and thus not commonly used.

How Manufacturers Market Chemical Flame Retardants:

Unfortunately, Mattress companies are not required to disclose what flame retardants they are using. And it is especially difficult to know exactly what is inside when the company is using a “proprietary” formulation. So unless a mattress company is explicitly eliminating the use of chemical flame retardants, and using a natural solution like Wool, they are likely using one of the harmful chemicals listed above.

4. Vinyl

Vinyl production uses toxic chemicals and additives which have been linked to major health issues

Why is Vinyl Toxic?

The production of Vinyl uses toxic, harmful chemicals from start to finish. These chemicals, which have been shown to cause severe health problems, leach out during use.

How Can Vinyl Affect Your Health?

Common additives used in making Vinyl includePhthalates and heavy-metals(like Antimony, mentioned above). Phthalates have been shown to:

  • Trigger asthma and allergies[Source]
  • Cause genital defects including male feminization [Source: National Research Council]
  • Alter child behavior[Source]

Another problem with Vinyl is that a chemical calledDioxinis released during production. Dioxin has been shown to:

  • Cause cancer
  • Cause birth defects
  • Harm developing brains

Why Do Manufacturers Use Vinyl?

Vinyl is a cheap way for manufacturers to make beds waterproof & bacteria resistant. Sadly, this makes themespecially common in baby mattress!

How Do Manufacturers Market Vinyl?

If a mattress claims to be waterproof, there is a good chance they are using vinyl since it is one of the cheapest ways to do this. Be sure to ask mattress companies if they use any vinyl in their mattresses. They aren’t required to list this, so there is a chance it is present, even if not listed.

How Can You Avoid These Toxic Chemicals?

One of the most frustrating things about buying mattresses is the lengths that mattress companies go to hiding the toxic-chemicals from you. You’ve seen in the above article just a few a the ways that mattress companies attempt to fool you into thinking their mattress is safe, when nothing could be further from the truth. And the leniency of federal regulations in the U.S. certainly doesn’t help the situation.

That’s one reason that here at SleepLily, we created our own Non-Toxic Promise, which clearly lays out that we are not usingANYtoxic chemicals in our mattresses. Also, in the descriptions of our non-toxic mattresses, we show youEXACTLYwhat we use inside the mattress. We believe in transparency & honesty, so you know precisely what you are getting when you buy a SleepLily mattress, and you can have confidence knowing that you are making a good investment for the future.

But regardless of what mattress company you choose, we want to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. If you have any questions, or need recommendations, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Mattresses

Most Mattresses on the market are full of chemicals that can pollute your bedroom air and harm your body.

Healthiest Mattresses

No less than 95% certified organic content

No polyurethane foam

No added chemical flame retardants

No added fragrances or antimicrobials

No PVC or vinyl

Do’s & Don’ts

Don’t buy mattresses that pollute your bedroom with toxic chemicals.

Most mattresses on the market are full of chemicals that can pollute your bedroom air and harm your body. This includes polyurethane foam that can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs , harmful chemicals that can cause respiratory irritation or other health problems; flame retardant chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and adverse effects on the immune system; and PVC or vinyl covers that can damage developing reproductive systems.

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If possible, choose a mattress made with at least 95 percent organic content, which could include cotton, wool or natural latex.

Look for Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS, certification. To receive GOTS certification, the mattress cannot be made of polyurethane foam or contain a number of hazardous chemicals. Look for the Global Organic Latex Standard, or GOLS certification for organic latex.

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If you are interested in a latex-based mattress, choose one with 100 percent natural latex.

Latex is a renewable material made from rubber tree sap, and unlike polyurethane, latex is less likely to emit high levels of VOCs. It is also highly resistant to mold and dust mites, and is more durable than petroleum-based foam. Natural latex mattresses are increasingly easy to find at reasonable prices.

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Choose a mattress with no added flame retardant chemicals .

Ask the retailer or manufacturer if its mattresses have these added chemicals. Wool and polylactic acid, or PLA, are good alternatives to chemical flame retardants. Ask the same questions for foam futons, sleeping mats, pillows and mattress toppers, which have been found to contain chlorinated Tris, a flame retardant chemical that is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen.

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If you decide to buy a polyurethane or memory foam mattress, look for one that is low-VOC certified by an independent certification body like Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or Greenguard Gold.

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Avoid scented mattresses, toppers and bedding, and products with added chemical antimicrobial treatments.

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Look for mattresses that do not use glue, or that use water-based glues between the foam layers of the mattress.

Solvent-based glues can emit harmful VOCs.

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Avoid mattresses or covers made of PVC or vinyl, which are sources of phthalates–chemicals that affect the reproductive system.

Instead, add accident protection with a waterproof mattress cover made of polyurethane laminate, or PUL, fabric or polyethylene.

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Use a zippered dust-proof pillow and mattress cover to avoid dust mites.

Choose one made of a tightly woven fabric, like cotton, instead of PVC or vinyl. Launder bedding frequently in hot water.

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Types of Mattress Foams

Polyurethane foam

Polyurethane foam is used in most mattresses on the market. But polyurethane is made from petroleum chemicals that can emit VOCs—harmful chemicals that can cause respiratory irritation or other health problems. Some polyurethane mattresses are worse than others in terms of VOC emissions, so if you’re going this route, shop around and ask if the foam has been tested for VOCs.

Memory foam

Memory foam is another type of polyurethane foam with chemicals added to give it special conforming properties. Like polyurethane foams, it varies widely in quality and VOC emissions.

Plant-based foam

Plant-based foam is typically produced with a small percentage of soybean oil or castor oil mixed with petroleum chemicals. It is often marketed as “environmentally friendly,” but plant-based foams emit VOCs just like polyurethane foam.

Latex-based foam

Latex foam can be a healthier choice compared to polyurethane foam. Natural latex is a renewable material gathered from the sap of a rubber tree. Unlike polyurethane, latex is less likely to emit high levels of VOCs. It is also highly resistant to mold and dust mites, and is more durable than petroleum-based foam. Look for a product that has 100 percent natural latex. Some mattresses are made from synthetic latex, which can emit VOCs. Avoid products with a blend natural and synthetic latex. Be sure to ask how much latex is actually used in the mattress and whether it is from natural sources.

Polyethylene foam

Polyethylene foam can contain fewer contaminants compared to polyurethane foam. It can be made from petroleum-based or bio-based ingredients, so ask the manufacturer about the source of the ingredients and relevant contaminant test results.

Other Issues

Crib Mattresses

Unfortunately, most foam crib mattresses on the market emit large amounts of VOCs, have added toxic flame retardant chemicals, include a variety of fragrance chemicals, and use PVC or vinyl covers that contain phthalates–which can disrupt baby’s hormones and may be linked to asthma.

The best option is to buy an organic crib mattress free of harmful chemicals and materials. Look for the GOTS certification when choosing a product.

If an organic option is not possible, look for a crib mattress with:

  • Wool or polylactic acid to provide flame resistance, instead of added chemical flame retardants;
  • A natural fiber cover, like cotton or wool, or a waterproof barrier made of PUL fabric, also known as polyurethane laminate, or polyethylene—not PVC or vinyl;
  • No antibacterial additives or added fragrances; and
  • A low-VOC certification like Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or Greenguard Gold.

Once you’ve bought a mattress, bring it home and let it air out outside before the baby is born. This will give it extra time to release any VOCs and limit your infant’s exposure to these chemicals.

Dust Mites

Dust mites live and multiply in warm, humid places, making mattresses and bedding an ideal environment. People with dust mite allergies tend to suffer fewer symptoms when they make a concerted effort to control their household exposures. Use a zippered dust-proof pillow and mattress cover made from tightly woven fabric, like cotton, to avoid dust mites.

STOP! Don’t buy that new TOXIC mattress! There are cheaper and healthier options!

Disclosure:This post may contain affiliate links from which I will earn a commission.

New mattresses are the stuff of dreams. Are they not?

I don’t know about you, but when I see a mattress store, I absolutelyhaveto go in and test them all out. I’m like Goldilocks, except without the breaking and entering tendencies.

Sadly though, a nice, new, expensive mattress was never in our humble little budget. For 12 years of marriage, the ol’ man and I have slept on a “less than mediocre” mattress.

That’s right, folks.

Just last week, I was ready and willing to walk right into a mattress store with my big pickle jar of change and purchase a beautifully clean, new, and deliciously comfortable mattress.

Imagine my despair when I found out that new mattresses are completely TOXIC.

My sweet friend Caroline (who blogs over atGutsy) found out the hard way that her mattress was toxic. Blurred vision, slurred speech, headaches, and extreme fatigue were some of the symptoms Caroline experienced just hours after she started sleeping on her new mattress.You can read about her full mattress fiascohere.After extensive research, she found some very disturbing things about those brand spankin’ new mattresses.

Why Standard New Mattresses are BAD

Brand new mattresses may seem gorgeous and beautiful on the outside. But really, they’re a crapfest of toxic, cancer-causing chemicals. These includepolyurethane foam,formaldehyde,boric acid,antimony(a heavy metal similar to arsenic) and worst of all,polybrominated diphenyl ethers(also known as flame retardants). They areallwreaking havoc on your sleep and health.

“What’s the big deal? I’m only sleeping on it, I’m not eating it!”

The biggest problem with all mattress chemicals is thatthey emit strong gassesthat can make you and your family sick. Really sick. They’re linked to asthma, allergies, neurological disorders, SIDS, reproductive problems, thyroid disruption, and various forms of cancer. Recent testing from the government has confirmed it!

“…growing evidence shows that PBDE compounds are escaping from the products they protect and making their way into the products’ users. Moreover, the chemicals may disrupt human thyroid hormone functioning and cause other health effects, prompting many nations to ban or suspend their use in new consumer goods.” (source)

Knowing that youmay bespending an average of 6-10 hours a day laying on your bed, doesn’t it make sense to avoidabsorbing these toxic chemicals as much as possible?

Option #1 – Purchase a mattress made before 2007

I knew that the safest way to go was with a company that makes non-toxic mattresses. But, the hefty price tag was difficult to swallow. Keep in mind, I also wanted the bed to be comfortable. In my initial search, organic mattresses don’t always have the best track record for that.

I decided to try out some organic mattresses by searching onCraigslist, asking sellers if I could come by and lay on their mattress before I bought it (not awkward at all, by the way). I found a couple organic mattresses for sale and was ready to try them out. But after just talking on the phone to the two separate sellers, they admitted they were selling them because their non-toxic mattresses were uncomfortable. I’m sure there are some great, comfortable, non-toxic mattresses out there. But for me, I just didn’t want to risk spending$4,000on an organic mattress and risk sacrificing comfort.

Luckily, I knewone great tipabout the chemicals in new mattresses:

Older mattresses that have been around a few years have out-gassed.This meansthat they don’t emit any gasses anymore. Even better, mattresses that have been made before 2007 should NOT have been sprayed with PBDE’s (flame retardants).If any chemicals were used at that time, they should be out-gassed by now.

My newmission: To find a used mattress made before 2007 that was also in excellent condition.

Myproblem: I was a little grossed out at buying a used mattress and I thought my chances of finding high quality ones were slim.

Luckily, Kevin had a great idea. We searched again on Craigslist for guest beds made before 2007. We made sure the bed had been primarily used as a guest bed and that the seller was the original owner. With those qualifications, there were a ton to choose from!

We tried out a couple, and ended up with a high quality mattress (with a wonderfully soft pillow top) in brand new condition.Notoxic chemicals, thank you very much. It had been sitting in a guest room (in a pet-free, smoke-free home) for the last 6 years.

The cost? Only $200! The owner had originally bought the mattress for $3000. Iam not kidding.

Here I was, ready to spend all my hard earned pennies on a new mattress. But I got a healthier and non-toxic one, for way less. WIN!

Prepping Your Used (but new to you) Mattress

My great-grandma used to do this thing to her mattress and pillows about once a year. She called it “sunning,” and basically all it was was setting them outside in the sun for about day on each side. It’s an old-fashioned method of sterilizing and cleaning mattresses, pillows, blankets, etc. Sunning kills bedbugs, dust mites, and basically just makes your used mattress smell amazing.

Ours was barely used and smelled fresh already, but we still sunned it because I knew Great-Grandma Alva would be proud.

This option gave us a toxic-free, insanely comfortable, and inexpensive mattress for those years when purchasing an organic mattress wasn’t in the budget.I really don’t think you can ask for anything better than that.

Option #2 – Purchase a non-toxic mattress that IS ALSO comfortable.

As our gently used mattress started to get saggy over the years, I knew I was in the market again for YET another solution, so I hunkered down and did my research.

And I found the same name recommended again and again.IntelliBED.Intelli-what?

Turns out, IntelliBED is this non-toxic mattress company that STARTED out with a goal of eliminating bed sores. As somebody who spent years taking care of a bedridden patients in nursing school AND being somebody who suffers from back pain, this impressed me.

So, I called ’em up. And I was fascinated at the results they were getting. Working with nursing homes and chiropractors all over the world, they had some amazing credentials. A good friend of mine described sleeping on an Intellibed mattress was like sleeping on a cloud. She said she could fall asleep and wake up in the exact same position. And honestly, that sounded AMAZING!

But I needed to do a bit more research, and here’s how they measured up:

  • As far as non-toxic goes, they definitely match up. No flame retardants or other nasty chemicals that can mess with your hormones and brain function.
  • The Intelligel design has been proven to eliminate bed sores by collapsing under *just* the right amount of pressure.This means less tossing & turning for us younger folks and less stiffness when we wake.
  • They offer the longest warranty around – 30 years!
  • They have a 60-day guarantee, and when you return it, THEY pay for shipping. If that doesn’t boast confidence you’ll love it, I don’t know what is.

Honestly, after all my research, I was pretty excited to jump on board. Although I can manage a lot of my chronic pain naturally, I loved the idea that during those 8-10 hours a night of sleep, I was providing my back (and my overall body) with the healthiest option there is!

The day it arrived, we both laid on it and said, “Wow, that’s a sturdier bed than we thought it would be!” (truth be told our old mattress was pretty saggy, so our perspective was off)

Our first night was truly AMAZING! I really thought it would take an adjustment period, but nope, totally went straight to sleeping soundly and without hardly any tossing or turning.

In the end, we’re incredibly happy with our bed! Option #1 of starting with a used mattress was perfect for our budget then, but I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to go with Option #2

UPDATE: I’ve had so many comments over this post that I’ve asked IntelliBED if they’d be willing to offer a coupon code to my readers and they AGREED. If you go to www.intellibed.com and enter WEED10 , you’ll get 10% anything in the store!

What’s your current mattress like? Are you excited about these mattress options and ready to begin the hunt for a better mattress?

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ABOUT DANELLE

DaNelle started to take an interest in a healthier lifestyle after suffering from two debilitating chronic diseases. On a mission to create a farm of her own, DaNelle forced, or rather ‘lovingly persuaded’ her husband to purchase a ranch home on an acre of land and transform it into their very own urban farm. DaNelle blogs at Weed ’em & Reap where she writes about the sustainable backyard farming, traditional food, & natural remedies.

Comments

My dad bought bought new mattresses for my sister and me that makes the whole room reek of chemicals even with our window open, and makes me feel ill. So I m interested in your idea of buying BabeSafe covers and taping them together to protect us from breathing in the chemicals, do you think that would offer sufficient protection?

Haven’t tried that exact method, but covering the mattress does help.

Thank you -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)

Totally agreed. There are much better mattresses out there.

David Keith says

Falsehoods all of it.

PBDE’s were used prior to 2004 because that’s when they became illegal. Folks don’t be fooled by someone offering or suggesting products. For them it’s about a good story so they can profit from your ignorance and fears.

Although I don’t think this blogger is trying to make money, it appears you are correct in when this was banned. And it looks pretty complex even with keeping that date in mind. It doesn’t look as cut and dried as this article suggests. Not yours, the person who wrote above. I have to check out your link. Thanks. But this is one I found.

Because if it’s in a news article, then it must be true LOL

Thanks for the article on toxic bed mattresses. I am reviewing and looking for the truth about what is in and on a mattress. Looks like the best choice is organic Naturepedic or maybe the new Wovenaire for cribs. I do believe that this contributes to SIDS!

Paul Ronco says

Has the cause of crib death (SIDS) been found?

“The statistics showed that the proof of the validity of mattress-wrapping for crib death prevention was one billion times the level of proof generally accepted by the medical community as proving a scientific proposition.”

DH and I are in search of a mattress currently, and may end up going with Intellibed (thanks for the coupon code!), but wanted to get your input on the Eco Terra mattress – https://ecoterrabeds.com. DH was commenting on it, and I did a little bit of research on it. Like that it has the coils for no motion transfer and the natural latex would be really nice. What are your thoughts on the Eco Terra?

Hi Belamie-
I can’t say that we know much about the Eco Terra. DaNelle suggests on things like this, that if they seem comparable, go with the one with the best comfort reviews. I hope this helps and you get a great mattress! Thank you -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)

s the free meals that are a major hit with the children drawing even dropouts to come back to schools.
They use high quality of educational materials not
to compromise the quality of education they are giving.

Can you imagine a high school where all of the young women were learning to cook and
sew in Home Ec, and all of the boys were learning to do auto repair in auto shop.

Lisa Hoffman says

what are you talking about? I am 55 and was extremely annoyed I could not take shop, (auto repair, welding etc) I didn’t want to make brownies out of a box duh pretty easy to figure out how to boil water found that out in chemistry! So what are you saying that you are young people and this is a foreign concept? And sewing was ridiculous for the amount of time you spend breaking those antiqued machines with dull scissors to cut ugly material to make bags they called dresses when everyone was wearing levi’s.

I don’t think she said everyone fits this idea, however MOST girls don’t really want anything to do with working in a garage. Personally I do…..yah! (I grew up in a racing family, mostly boys) however I wish I could stay at home these days caring for my family, but am forced to go to work to survive and try to be the parent and wife the world expects me to be. I guess I should pretend this is progress. Even though my Dad, you know, the one who taught me about the garage, took care of his family, and could afford to, was a jerk. Right….

Tammy Swanson says

Ain’t it funny how our government is so concerned about us, they don’t want us to go up in flames (a rare occurrence anyway as spontaneous combustion doesn’t happen much today), yet they don’t seem to mind if we get cancer from our mattresses.

Thanks for sharing the information. I was very shocked to hear that the mattresses nowadays were gassed with toxic materials to make it more comfortable. I recently read a blog from surplus furniture that mentions some tips on how to make the mattress last much longer https://www.surplusfurniture.com/blog/know-when-to-say-good-bye-to-your-old-mattress/ . I like the idea of sunning the mattress and the bedsheets, my mattress have been smelling a bit musty lately. I definitely have to try the method out.

You can also wrap mattresses in plastic (to contain off-gassing of chemicals inside). New Zealand reduced their SIDs rate by wrapping infant mattresses in a plastic protective cover.

caution, the plastice you suggest wrapping your mattress with may be a plastic that off-gasses!!

Tammy Swanson says

I’d love to read the data on that ‘study’ from New Zealand. The Amish have no SIDS with their kids and most of them also don’t have their kids vaccinated with a bazillion vaccines either. They also don’t have Autism.

I felt sorry for your friend for buying a toxic mattress. Uggh. That’s scary. Well, thank you for this option you’ve shared. Now, I’m confident in buying a new mattress (not really new, it’s what you’ve shared to us :)) Thank you so much!

When I was looking at a mattress that didn’t have any chemicals or off gassing. I was doing a Google search and came across a company that has all latex mattresses. When I called them they were very friendly and knowledgeable about latex mattresses. Plus, for $2,000.00 and a discount witch came out to only be $1,500.00 I bought and all organic latex mattress where I can choose my own comfort level by unzipping my cover. I would always recommend this company for any mattresses for adults and kids.

I love your idea!!
I buy and sell stuff on Craigslist all the time, but I have never thought about buying a mattress from CL.
I am starting my search this weekend. The mattress that you bought/pictured looks soooo comfortable what kind is it?
Thanks for the great idea!!

Update. I got my wool mattress and pad from Soaring Heart and am very disappointed! I wake up and again have puffy face, under eye circles and frog in my throat. My voice is raspy for hours after waking. I aired both out for 1 week before sleeping on them again and no difference! I am NOT allergic to wool either. Now these products are certified organic which makes me believe even more that these certification standards are only as good as the shystery regulatory agencies that approve them. I no longer trust the “Certified Organic” label when it comes to mattresses. Like Nick, who posted a few comments above, I am going to try TheHomeofWool from etsy.com. They are extremely affordable (even with overseas shipping costs) and are made in the Bulgarian countryside. Rosica was very informative and went into great detail as to why the mattresses they make are superior to the certified organic American variety. We’ll see. Like I posted earlier, Abundant Earth was the only company I found to have true ethics, however, this was some years back and I am not going to spend $3,000 for a new mattress and box spring. Their prices have risen dramatically in the past 5 years. What a girl has to do just to get a good night’s sleep!

Hi, did you purchased the mattress from TheHomeof Wool on Etsy. If , yes what are your expirience? I am interested in their mattress and will be great to hear what is your opinion on it. Thanks.

I am really no one mentioned here that IKEA has 2 all natural mattresses that have no flame retardant. They use wool wrapped around latex to make them flame resistant. They cost a little more than their other mattresses but are nowhere near as expensive as the organic brands you see online and are VERY comfortable.

I recently went to the IKEA store in Charlotte and asked if IKEA sold any mattresses (including the latex kind) that didn’t have flame retardants. The salesperson checked and told me, “No, by law we have to sell mattresses with flame retardants.”

“by law we have to sell mattresses with flame retardants”

Wool is a flame retardant.

Thanks for cool advices and informations in this article. I appreciate it

@Nick
You should check 3mart.com.au
i bought king size mattress from there recently and it was totaly worth of the price.

Hi, I’m currently investigating the market for a new mattress and I would like to buy a wool mattress, but their prices are high for me. Fortunately I found this small manufacturer https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHomeOfWool and I’m looking for reviews – if anyone can share.Thank you!

Hi Nick, I am going to purchase from The Home of Wool next month and will post a review maybe a few weeks after sleeping on the mattress. If you order before I do will you go ahead and post a review? Thanks.

Did you ever try the Home of Wool mattress?
I am thinking of them for a 4″ mattress for a trailer, if they make to order, and would love to know if you were satisfied.
Thank you

Lucia, Correction …. I just went to Abundant Earth’s website and it says 2 -4 weeks for delivery which is so much quicker than when I ordered some years ago. Soaring Heart offers the crib mattress with the latex. Anyway, good luck with your search.

Hi Lucia, I would recommend making the investment and going with the (genuine) organic crib mattress. If you really need to purchase a used one just be sure it does not have flame retardants (of course there are plenty of other possible toxic materials). You can usually tell from the tag on a used mattress if it has flame retardants. One conventional manufacturer started with the flame retardants voluntarily as early as 2004, either Serta or Sealy, I can’t remember which. I now need an additional mattress and just might go back to Abundant Earth, though they are very pricey and you have to wait between 4 – 6 weeks to get it. I am currently looking into a company out of Washington called Soaring Heart. So far, I am impressed and they also have a few in stock and offer free shipping. Their actual mattresses are extremely expensive so I would opt for a cotton/wool futon with a plush 2″ thick all wool mattress topper. Soaring Heart guarantees no Boric Acid, PBDEs, etc. as is stated on their website. Could there be another type of flame retardant incorporated that we don’t know about? Who knows for sure? It’s not easy with the lax values of regulatory agencies with what they allow to go on with these mattress companies. I know some people like the latex variety but I can’t stand the smell. Good for you for being a concerned parent. The world should have more of you.

A savvy piece of advice. The truth is… It is really scary to know that brand new mattresses are potentially unsafe. I was looking to buy a baby mattress for my newborn. Does it mean I have only 2 options? 1. Buy organic baby mattress (which is expensive); 2. Buy used mattress. Any advice?

Lucia, you can actually purchase an organic baby mattress from Costco online for a very fair price. It’s made with bamboo, organic cotton, etc. When we bought ours 2 years ago, I think we paid $130. I know they have some cheaper and some more expensive, but I they were by far the best options I found.

I see that someone has posted here regarding Naturepedic mattresses. I contacted this company by phone and later my email and was NOT satisfied with the reply they gave me regarding their materials. Their representatives insisted that an all cotton organic mattress (without wool) could pass the flame retardant tests with no chemicals added. I know this to be false. If someone wishes to purchase a 100% cotton mattress, organic or not, that does not have flame retardants added, they must present a note from their Doctor, Naturopath, etc. stating that this is a necessity for their patient. Naturepedic does not require such a note. So how are they able to sell the 100% cotton version without requiring a Doctor’s note? Only they know for sure and they’re not telling.

A few clarifications ….. Not all flame retardant mattresses have been sprayed, the more expensive versions actually have an insert. Also there are some brands that started using flame retardants in their standard mattresses well before 2007. Do your homework. Also, do not assume because a mattress is labeled organic that this means it does not have flame retardants! This is America folks land of manipulative advertising unfortunately allowed by our government. Yes, by law a mattress can be sold as organic and still contain deadly flame retardants. The only luck I have had was with Abundant Earth. I am also looking into My Green Mattress as I need an additional mattress set but am not sure about them. Their prices are extremely low so I’m a little skeptical. They informed me that their wool/cotton mattresses only had 1 inch of wool wrapped around the mattress.and I thought it had to be 2 inches to pass regulations. After grilling My Green Mattress on the phone they did let slip that the Joma wool they use is also mixed with polyester. See what I mean? This is not a drawback for me as I don’t believe it to be toxic but shows what companies do not openly disclose unless pressed to do so. Anyway, as I said, do your homework before making this investment. BTW I highly recommend sleeping on a genuine flame retardant free mattress! It has helped my health enormously and I believe assisted in reversing a serious illness that I contracted after sleeping on a flame retardant mattress for 8 months. Who knew? Stay healthy!

what kind of mattress did you get that helped you?

People should sleep outside under the stars. This is the reason why the Old Testament tells us those folks lived to be 300 years and older…… But seriously, the mattress industry is a huge scam. They sell us the same mattress with a different label slapped on it all the time, so we can’t compare products to get the best deal. It’s worse than the used car industry. The fact is, that it is not well regulated, and their high pitched salesmen won’t reveal to the customer any info on materials used or true mark-up on a discounted sale. Let me tell you…The mark up is 500% profit or more on any new mattress set. Another little unknown tidbit is that when a store offers you their “FREE OLD BEDDING REMOVAL” that set doesn’t end up in the landfill…Well, you may ask, where does it end up? It ends up back in the store folks! They recycle your old sets by first cooking it in an huge oven at 250 degrees (kills bugs, & sanitizes), then they strip it down and reuse just about all the materials to make a new (and improved with cheaper components..LOL) mattress set. A lot of people don’t know this either, but there are only a few mattress factories in the USA, and they make ALL the brands for each individual mattress company (Sealy, Beautyrest, Spring-Aire, Generic, etc,etc,) only the cover and label is different. Another thing to understand when you purchase any new mattress is “the warranty”….It’s not worth the paper it’s written on folks. Google it, and you will read thousand upon thousands of complaints from consumers who NEVER received satisfaction after they tried to use their warranty when a problem arose. I will let you into a secret. If your mattress sags within the warranty period, it better sag more than 2 inches or your out of luck. They get away with this because most sagging is only one and a half inches deep, and that’s enough to give you a really bad backache, but not enough to get a new mattress..LOL. So, remember. If you want to get the best night’s sleep ever buy a Latex mattress (don’t matter who made it) , and try to buy it second hand. They last 25 to 30 years (tons of money saved right there) are non toxic, nonallergenic, won’t get dust mites, and they are the most comfortable sleep set in the world. I bought a queen sized one ten years ago on Craigslist for $250, (it was originally $3,500) and I haven’t regretted it a single night. Yes it is heavy to move, but that is such a small price to pay for the value and comfort I have received from it. Hope this info helps someone out there.

Tammy Swanson says

Thank you Celeste for the great info as well! I’ve heard they recycle mattresses too, bleech. What a racket.
Makes me want to make a hammock and just sleep on that! I’ll have to check out latex mattresses and do the ‘sunning’ tip that the author mentions. Great idea! I know that sunning gets rid of viruses too.

Anna Daniel says

You mean “sleep outside under the chemtrails” being sprayed non stop. No thanks!

krishan suthar says

The best way to treat a polyurethane mattress is to leave it in the sun for atleast one week exposing it to the suns energy. Also if used daily try to do this every day for one month

If anyone is looking for one more resource for finding an organic mattress… my shop: Moss Envy (Minneapolis, MN) sells both Savvy Rest and Naturepedic mattresses. Both awesome and CLEAN mattresses.

Hi!
I am on your website now and would like to order. However, I see that you announce your mattresses are flame retardant free. How are you following the new law that states that all mattresses have to contain these chemicals?

I am getting very ill form my mattress and need help

I noticed you wrote this post back in 2013. How are things with the mattress? Curious if your plan worked out, or if you have found any health issues with using it yet. Enjoyed this post and all the comments… though I think all the info has left me wondering still what the best option is… on a VERY tight budget. Would love an update, thank you! 🙂

Don’t go for a mattress made of chemicals! We go for organic food, why not mattresses? I’ve gotten a lot of good mattresses and bedding over at AustinNatural Mattress. Great stuff over there. https://austinnaturalmattress.com/

I’ve done extensive research on mattresses & off gassing. Ultimately we ended up purchasing a Naturepedic Organic crib mattress for our newborn. This company also makes an adult mattress but the queen was a little too much for us at $1600.00 so we bought a cheaper mattress (Denver Mattress Co – Doctors Choice for $500.00 queen) that’s probably very toxic so now I’m trying to find a way to off gas and cover it to protect us as much as possible.
The best solution I’ve found so far is to cover it (encase it really) in at least a 5ml thickness food grade polyethylene plastic wrap. https://www.yourguidetogreen.com/store/greg-39-s-picks/mattress-covers-no-chem-mattress-wraps/prod_1768.html but I’m still looking for one that fits a queen mattress. The next best option is to off gas for a couple weeks and what I’ll likely end up doing is buying a Naturepedic waterproof mattress pad & hoping it will at least reduce some of the toxins. https://www.healthychild.com/prevent-toxic-off-gassing-when-you-cant-afford-to-buy-an-organic-mattress/. Hope this helps someone.

If you don’t want to sleep on plastic, how about a charcoal blanket? They’re military grade for chemical warfare and quite effective at reducing odors as well as chemicals.

I had a new baby last year and my midwife talked about a study done in Europe to reduce SIDS. I’m sorry I don’t have a link, but they simply covered the mattresses with 5 ml plastic and drastically reduced SIDS. I really appreciate your willingness to blog about things that people give you a hard time over. It makes me think more about the choices I make for my family and also how I treat other people. It’s not easy to share. Thank you!

One would imagine that a mattress may off-gas faster if there’s regular pounding going on. Merely tossing and turning won’t be enough. To be safe, a person should be active in all parts of the bed, every square foot, to ensure the gasses have been sufficiently agitated and released.

So the used mattress looks like new…but what happens if the previous owner had c-diff?

That might make one pause about buying used.

I was sure to get the entire medical history of the owner before purchasing our mattress.

Mattress should be foldable. So everybody can move it from one place to another place easily.More

So, for those of us that probably have toxic mattresses due to budget and not knowing better at the time of purchase, what do you recommend? Do you recommend wrapping the mattress? I get so sick to my stomach as I continue to realize how bad everything is for us. It is so overwhelming and I don’t even know where to start. My main concern right now is in regards to our crib mattress and our toddler’s used twin mattress…wrap with something to prevent out-gassing? Any other options other than that as we are not in a place to buy new right now.

I’m not sure if you can wrap it in anything, but I do know that it takes about 2-3 years to outgas a mattress. So, if you’re already past that point, I’d say don’t worry about it. When it comes time to buy a new mattress, just opt for an older one:)

The original article is actually I incorrect in stating that all mattresses made before the year 2007 are not toxic. This is not true. I purchased mattresses in the 90s that are made of 100% polyurethane which is very toxic. However, instead of making the foam illegal our government decided instead to mandate all mattresses be made with fire retardants to offset the high flammability of the polyurethane. These chemicals (arsenic types included) sit right under the top cover and will never “gas out” or they would no longer work. Furthermore, and most important, is that the law was to take affect in California in 2005 which is where many of the big name mattresses are made. In 2007 it was to take affect everywhere else in the US. So, if you plan to buy a used mattress, you will only be safe by asking what the mattress tag states it is made of. If it say polyurethane, throw it out. It causes infertility, colon cancer, ovarian and blood cancers, breathing problems, and many other things. The mattress tag will say what is in it as far as what it is made of. Do not buy anything made after 2005 unless it is 100% organic cotton, latex, wool, or water. Avoid polyurethane altogether, and, If it doesn’t have a tag, run!

Hello there, simply changed into alert to your blog through Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I’ll be grateful for those who proceed this in future. Numerous other folks will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

Hi back! I am so new to blogging that I only stumbled onto this by playing with my tracking system. Brussels? I googled it and it is a legal term? Something I should be worried about? I am hopeful that my blog brings awareness to this issue. I think it will be a hot topic in the next year or two and I am hopeful for some positive change!

MATTRESS COMPANIES DO NOT TELL THE TRUTH! I spent a month of extensive reading & asking lots of questions before getting our new organic latex mattress from a small, trusted, one man shop (specializing in only Latex mattresses) Tim at https://seattlenaturalmattress.com/, that custom builds latex mattresses to your liking. He also sewed the 100% cotton bed cover, which zips, so you can actually see what the contents are & remove it to wash. It was well worth saving up for 2 years. The best investment for the next 15-20 years! NOT ALL LATEX MATTRESS ARE EQUAL! Here’s the scoop, There are two methods in the production of latex. Dunlop & Talalay, which use different methods to a final product. But, depending on the source, the manufacturer could use synthetic petroleum based along with natural latex in the production method, usually Talalay method. A simple explanation
https://www.habitatfurnishings.com/blog/?p=7 MATTRESS COMPANIES ARE NOT REGULATED! They can say it’s “100% natural latex” when only the top two inches is latex, but the rest is something else, which will break down & cause sinking or off gassing. They can say “it’s 100% organic cotton cover” when perhaps the only thing that’s cotton is the stitching. YOU CAN GET PRESCRIPTION FROM DOCTOR! The only regulation on mattresses is that they must be sprayed with highly toxic FIRE RETARDANTS! Tim at Seattle Natural Mattress asked if we had a doctors prescription. I’d never heard of this, but you can actually get a prescription from your doc against spraying fire retardants on your mattress. Tim’s are not pre sprayed. I believe most mattresses, at regular mattress stores, are presprayed. Plus only stupid that smoke in bed are the ones that catch beds on fire. Do your research!

Not true, “The only regulation on mattresses is that they must be sprayed with highly toxic FIRE RETARDANTS!” The regulation CF CFR1633 states that a mattress, defined as “all its parts contained in the ticking” must pass a burn test.” The easiest way to pass the open torch test is to use chemicals, but there are other ways to pass it. Compressed wool is one way. Also, the prescription from your doctor states that you are chemically sensitive. It is not a blanket pass to buy a non treated bed. And one more thing, legally, USDA organic fabric is only required to be and to state the majority of their contents. So Target’s organic sheets could be only 51% organic and 51% cotton. They’re not being illegal to not state the 49%, just unethical. While a lot of companies do play the semantic games, there are those of us who say it straight and call it what it is. Read reviews on the companies to get a good idea of their trustworthiness in information sharing.

Oh for crying out loud, this post exhausted me. Excuse me while I go zip up my organic hazmat suit.

Toxic Materials in Foam Mattresses? Are We Safe?

Nothing on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only.

Their incredible popularity seems to be unstoppable. Seeing how most of the homeowners are switching to foam mattresses – we have to stop and ask ourselves.Are these synthetically based mattresses safe for human use?

This question is sound and logical. Especially, since the materials used in making memory foam mattresses (learn more) are artificially made. And by themselves can be harmful to human health.But, the reality is not that gloomy.

High-quality, foam-based productsare now available for way less moneythan before and with “green” andeco-friendly manufacturing process. We do not recommend that you opt for any mattress that’s below $400 or pillow that costs less than $50. But, in order to learn why cheap products can be harmful, we have to get to the bottom of this issue.

Most of the cheaper memory mattressescome from polyurethane foam. This substance is not safe for use in the U.S. since 2004 due to health concerns. Even the more expensive brands contain some of the most toxic substances. The health concerns are great. Given no testing was conducted only time will tell on how effects of their use impact human health.

In this article, we will explain the main components of cheap foam mattresses. How do they exactly affect human health? We will question their safety and expose possible concerns about their use.

How Was Memory Foam Invented?

The nature of the process of using compounds to make memory foam is troublesome. We can hardly say that it is meant for use as a mattress. Or any type of product where humans would be longer exposed to it, for that matter. Memory foam was first designed for NASA space program.

Its primary function was to keep astronauts safe during missions in space. As it is,memory foam is an excellent shock absorbing material. It offers safety in helmets, pads and plenty of other equipment. This is because of its design to prevent serious injury to humans.

The structure of memory foam displaces under pressure or applied force. The small cavities inside of it compress and change shape. This works great for spreading the force throughout its surface area.

This fact is often used for marketing purposes. Mattress companies advertise memory foam mattresses as being great for pain relief. We agree that it does work wonders for those that experience pain. This ability to spread pressure over entire its surface helps people with back pain.

It alsohelps people with injuryto sleep with great comfort.

But, this doesn’t change the fact that it contains compounds which are unfit for human use. Let alone long exposure over time.

What Is Memory Foam Actually Made Of?

The main ingredient of memory foam is polyurethane. This compound comes from petroleum as a byproduct. Extracted during the refinement process of crude oil.

During the process of making a memory, foam polyurethane is often mixed. The number of other toxic chemicals include many harmful compounds. Polyvinyl chloride, formaldehyde, boric acid, antimony trioxide and different types of petrochemicals.

Since 2004, by law, the U.S. requires all mattresses to be fireproof to a specific temperature point and ever since the toxicity levels in foam memory mattresses have increased. This makes foam mattresses very harmful.

All memory foam comes from using various heavy industrial chemicals. It is no wonder it is unfit for human use.

A lab in Atlanta analyzed several mattresses made of memory foam material. It found them to emit 61 different types of chemicals. Some of these materials were carcinogens including benzene and naphthalene.

This was first announced by Walter Bader, the author of the book “Toxic Bedrooms”. It is remarkable that no one is actually letting the public know about this information.

As for the main ingredient polyurethane, its use isn’t monitored at all. It was not regulated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administrations), even though it is well known that it can be dangerous when combined with other chemicals.

Some of the isocyanates found in memory foam mattresses can cause harm to the skin. These can also cause respiration problems. Isocyanate compounds irritate skin and are harmful to human health.

Toxic compounds make toxic products

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)findings confirm the toxicity of these materials. These volatile organic compounds make their way in almost all manufactured household products, including carpets, furniture and of course mattresses and even pillows. Go figure.

Duke University completed clinical evaluations researched certain components used in memory foams. Those included isocyanates. The isocyanate compounds researched were acetone, benzene, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, methylene chloride and 1,1,1 -trichloroethane. What they discovered was that even the brief exposure caused damage. Even the minimal amount of toxicity of these compounds causes asthmatic attacks.

Diisocyanatesare also found as ingredients that increase flame resistance in foam mattresses. They are highly reactive compounds. In their raw forms, these can cause respiratory and skin damage. And if that alone isn’t bad enough they are carcinogenic to humans. During the manufacturing process, many compounds mix together. Diisocyanates react with polyols to produce the flexible memory foam. Polyols are binding compounds that are essential to creating the polyurethane foam.

Do You Have A Toxic Mattress?

If you have a spring or foam bed, chances are you sleep on atoxic mattress. The average person can spend 6-10 hours a day in bed, and we often expect that manufacturers make mattresses safe or at least benign. However, there are actually a wide range of chemicals and toxins present in modern mattresses that can pose significant short and long-term health risks. Keep reading to learn where these components come from and how to avoid getting a toxic mattress.

The issue of toxicity is not limited to one particular type of bed. Across the spectrum, from memory foam to coil mattresses, nearly all contain either petrochemicals, noxious adhesives, chemically treated fabrics, pesticides, chemical flame retardants, and more. Recent recalls of beds, including the mattresses made for baby’s cribs, have demonstrated just how dangerous and prevalent some of these chemicals can be. However, that’s only half the story as many potential toxins remain completely legal for us in the United States, and manufacturers are not typically required to disclose them chemical contents of their products.

There are significant differences between different mattress materials, the fire retardants that are used, and glue or adhesives used for layering. It is necessary to address each of these to fully understand the toxic mattress issue, and to learn how to choose a safe non toxic mattress.

Flame Retardants & Safety

Some of the problems surrounding toxic mattress concerns stem from Federal laws and requirements surrounding flammability. These laws were created with good intentions; however the manufacturers can use a variety of chemicals and materials to meet these guidelines and not all are safe. For example, PentaBDE (PBDE) proved one of the worst offenders and was voluntarily phased out in mattresses manufactured in the United States since 2004; however, very few of the major manufacturers like Simmons, Sealy, and Tempurpedic actually disclose what they use, claiming it as a “trade secret”. It is speculated that common flame retardant additives might include antimony oxide (carcinogen) or melamine resin (contains formaldehyde). Little research has been conducted into how these types of chemicals affect us, to what degree our bodies absorb them, and what consequences exposure will have down the road.

[list type=”minus”]
[li]Avoid brands who will not disclose how they achieve flame standards, as they are likely using potentially concerning chemicals.[/li]

[li]Avoid Antimony, Decabromodiphenyl Oxide, Melamine Resin, Boric Acid, Formeldahyde, Vinylidene Chloride, Brominated chemicals and other chemical additives.[/li]
[/list]

[list type=”plus”]
[li]Formulations considered safest include wool covers and silica-treated rayon covers. [/li]
[/list]

About Adhesives and Glues

While flame retardants remain a hot topic, of equal concern are the adhesives and glues used to manufacture many mattresses. Manufacturers often use glues to hold different layers together and keep fabrics in place. They can be found in memory foam beds, innerspring beds, and latex mattresses. Two different types may be used: solvent-based adhesives and water-based adhesives. While solvent-based formulations prove considerably worse, water-based adhesives still contain the same chemicals of concern.

Solvent-based adhesives can have upwards of 48 different toxic chemicals, ranging from acetone to lead to chlorofluorocarbons to halogens and more. Water-based adhesives are simply solvent-based glues diluted in water for spraying, so they still contain the same toxins. These chemicals emit what many recognize as a “new” smell, due to their release of Volatile Organic Compounds [VOCs] into the air. These VOCs have been linked with cancer, organ damage, and endocrine disruption and create a truly toxic mattress.

People who suffer from breathing problems including asthma and allergies should avoid breathing volatile organic compounds. These fumes pose a significant health hazard to adults and children, and there are several reports of people experiencing allergic-type reactions and respiratory discomfort with brand new mattresses, especially certain types of memory foam (see following section on mattress types). Pregnant women should be aware that the chemicals can be transferred to their baby. The long term effects of these chemicals are still unknown. It is known that at the very least they can cause a variety of cancers and decrease indoor air quality.

[list type=”minus”]
[li]Avoid all adhesives. These can be used in between mattress layers, in frames, and between fabrics and core materials.[/li]

[li]Water-based adhesives are not healthier or free of chemicals.[/li]
[/list]

[list type=”plus”]
[li]Look for mattresses in which the layers can be pulled apart, and the cover removed.[/li]
[/list]

Chemicals in Toxic Mattress Materials

In addition to the concerns regarding glue and fire retardants, the composition of the material used to create the mattress itself is also important. Knowing what exactly is in your mattress will help you determine the danger levels.

  • Innerspring Mattresses: Typically contain poly foam (see memory foam below) in quilting and padding layers, nearly always contain adhesives.
  • Traditional Memory Foam & Poly Foam: May contain around seven toxic chemicals (1,1,1,2 Tetrachoroethane, acetone, and dimethylformamide, Methyl benzene, Methylene dianiline, toluene-neoprene and Vinilideine chloride). Often contain adhesives between core and upper layers.
  • Synthetic Latex: Typically contains around five non-toxic chemicals (2-chloro-1–3-butadiene, diphenyl diisocyanate, metallic oxides, Phenol-melamine resins, sulfur, Tellerium). May or may not contain adhesives. May or may contain polyurethane fillers.
  • Natural Latex: May have around six non-toxic chemicals (acrylate resins, diphenyl diisocyanate, Phenol-melamine resins, Phenol-urea, Polyvinyl acetate and waxes styrene- butadiene copolymer) in addition to the natural hevea milk, fats, and water. May or may not contain adhesives.

Information from reports by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Water based Adhesives Technology Review and Aerias – Air Quality Sciences.

Are There Any Non Toxic Mattress Types?

According to the reports we found, synthetic and natural latex foams appear to offer the safest bet when it comes to choosing a non toxic mattress. Here are a few helpful guidelines for choosing the healthiest bed:

  • Synthetic latex contains fewer chemicals than memory foam, though it is often blended with a relative, polyurethane. To ensure you get the best mattress, look for 100% natural latex. Avoid beds with latex over poly-foam or springs, as these will almost always contain toxic chemicals and adhesives.
  • Only latex liquid can currently be certified organic in the U.S. The finished foam and mattress cannot be. If a mattress brand tells you their latex foam is certified organic, question the validity of their claims.
  • However, cover materials like cotton can be certified organic and an organic cotton cover will eliminate pesticides and other chemicals from your bed. Make sure the product has organic certification from a recognized body.
  • Look for Oeko-Tex 100 certification. This means the product has been certified to be free of harmful chemicals.
  • Look for mattresses that utilize wool or rayon covers as fire barriers rather than chemicals.

Our Non Toxic Mattress Recommendation

Based on the above criteria, we recommend Astrabeds’ 100% natural, organic latex mattresses. These do not contain any harmful chemical additives, feature organic cotton covers, wool fire barriers, and unglued layers. They are also Eco-Institut certified. Prices start around $1299, and beds come in multiple firmnesses and heights.

We are exposed to so many toxic chemicals on a day to day basis, and the last place we want to find them is in our beds. Taking the time to research what goes in to your home will offer you peace of mind and sweeter dreams. Use these tips while shopping to choose a safe non toxic mattress.

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