Feb 19, 2020
Do you think your memory foam mattress might be toxic? Research shows you may be right.
Memory foam is a commonly used material in mattresses, mattress toppers, pillows, and other household items.
In this article, we will discuss the safety concerns surrounding memory foam mattresses, as well as share our best tips for choosing a nontoxic mattress for your home.
The main ingredient of memory foam mattresses is polyurethane, which contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Common VOCs found in memory foam mattresses include formaldehyde, benzene, and naphthalene. Exposure to VOC emissions can contribute to a multitude of short and long-term health effects, including:
In addition, memory foam is highly combustible, which means memory foam mattresses often contain flame retardants.
Many flame retardants are associated with adverse health effects in humans, such as endocrine disruption, and damage to our immune systems and neurological function.
Researchers have also found that children usually have higher flame retardant levels in their bodies than adults - which means exposure can be even more dangerous for them.
Some memory foam mattresses may also contain isocyanates, which may lead to lung problems, as well as irritation of skin, eyes, nose, and throat.
The most common VOC emission side effects include:
If you are experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing, or nasal congestion, it may be a sign of isocyanate exposure.
If you are worried that your mattress may be toxic, simply check the ingredients list to see if any of the VOCs mentioned above were used in its production.
Pay particular attention to the type of material used for fire protection. If it’s not organic wool, your mattress likely contains at least one toxic chemical.
Look out for the aforementioned symptoms of VOC exposure.
If you recently bought a new mattress, and are experiencing fatigue and headaches (without any other changes to your lifestyle), the mattress may be to blame.
While we can't "fix" a foam mattress that's off-gassing toxic fumes, the below are practical steps you can take to reduce your exposures to toxic chemicals.
If you are looking for a nontoxic mattress, swap out memory foam for 100% pure natural latex. And choose a mattress casing that’s composed of certified organic cotton and certified organic wool.
Just because a mattress company says their product is “organic” doesn’t mean it is. When shopping for a nontoxic mattress, look for these certifications:
If you have already bought a mattress and notice a strong chemical smell upon unpacking it, air it out as quickly as possible. If you can’t bring your new mattress outside, open windows and doors in your home (when outdoor air quality is not going to jeopardize your indoor air quality), and turn on a fan to get the air circulating.
Let your bedroom breathe whenever outdoor air quality is good as fumes will accumulate over time.
Also, consider using an effective air purifier. You can learn more about our recommended air purifier by clicking here.
If you are worried about exposure to harmful chemicals, a memory foam mattress may not be the best choice for your home.
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In 2020, we're deconstructing our home, habits, and things to reconstruct a practical nontoxic and healing lifestyle. We're bringing consciousness to unconscious choices.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Views expressed in this article by an expert are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Nontoxic Living or Ruan Living.
Access Sophia's shopping list for her household staples. They're her favorite low toxic items that she can't live without. Also see which EMF protection products she uses.