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Dangerous Chemicals and Materials in Non-Organic Mattresses

Are There Dangerous Chemicals and Materials in Non-Organic Mattresses?

When the Consumer Product Safety Commission released their report in 2007 stating that toxic and cancer causing chemicals leach from mattresses and are absorbed by our skin, many people became worried. Now there was a brand new threat to the nation’s health - health risks for people during sleeping.

Sleeping on a mattress may or may not give you symptoms like headaches, burning eyes, fatigue, memory problems, hearing loss, abnormal thyroid function, and flu-like symptoms. Whether or not you get symptoms depends on the concentration of the chemicals in the mattress, how your body’s detoxification systems are working, and how much clothing you are wearing to bed.

The more effective your body can detoxify itself from chemicals in the mattress, the lesser your chance of being harmed by these chemicals. However, the big questions to ask are these:  how can we stay healthy when our body is bombarded with toxins from the environment that are 100 times the level of what they were 50 years ago? How can we get restful sleep if the eight hours of sleep are spent fighting chemicals in the mattress? How much more harmful are the chemicals in the mattresses for babies and young children who don’t have a fully functioning detoxification system until they are at least three years old?

Smoking in the Bedroom? You’re Safe Now!

The chemicals in the non-organic mattresses that are among the most dangerous are the flame-retardants. In the name of public safety, laws were changed to protect people from going up in flames while sleeping on a mattress if someone dropped a lit cigarette onto the bed. Mattress companies must make the flame retardants in their mattresses comply with requirements to minimize the possibility of a flashover that occurs from a spark. This new set of regulations was thought to be protective and prevent deaths and serious injuries if a mattress caught on fire.

Mattresses made anywhere in the U.S. have to be tested for their ability to catch fire, and when they do catch fire, the total heat released from the fire cannot exceed 15 MU for the first 10 minutes. During a 30-minute burn, the mattress fire cannot exceed 200 kW at any time as well.

Flame Retardants are a Big Part of the Problem

Non-organic mattresses traditionally contain formaldehyde and flame retardants, which are generally petrochemicals. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, as are petrochemicals. It’s a known fact that workers employed in the fire retardant industry have health problems such as thyroid abnormalities, and these types of problems are found in greater frequencies than what is found in the normal population.

Substances such as phosphorus, arsenic, boric acid, and antimony (an arsenic-like potentially toxic element) are used as flame retardants. Besides being toxic themselves either in small doses (arsenic) or in larger doses, these flame retardants are subject to degradation by microbes. Researchers in New Zealand found that fungi that acts on phosphorus, arsenic, and antimony produce toxic gases. This production of toxic gases is called off gassing.

Flame Retardants aren’t the Only Problem

In the making of mattresses, everything used in the process can become toxic to the body. Polyurethane foam is used to create memory foam products. Polyurethane is a mixture of polyol and toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and it emits a very strong odor. The EPA classifies TDI as a Volatile Organic Compound  (VOC) that is known to cause headache, nausea, dizziness, asthma, and fatigue. TDI is also an immune system system disrupter and a neurotoxin.

Surprisingly to some, glues and adhesive chemicals are used to make mattresses. Because a mattress is made of layers, manufacturers attach the layers together with glues. These glues are made with benzene, methylene, and chloride. The off gassing from the glues in mattresses can cause cancers of the respiratory tract, asthma and allergies as well as skin rashes.

Traditional mattresses are also a bed of pigments, dyes, bleaches, polyester, acrylic, pesticides, foam fillers and extenders, and fungicides.

Isn’t it time to get restful sleep without chemicals in the mattress? Check out our organic crib mattress selection for your precious baby!