6 Things to Avoid when Choosing a Non-Toxic Mattress
If you’re reading this, then chances are that you are not sleeping on a non-toxic mattress.
Certainly, when it comes to the safety and health of you and your family, you want to be sure that any bedding or mattress is safe for use.
Toxic beds can expose you to many hazards, including toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, flame retardants, lead-based paints, and other ingredients which have been linked with cancer in humans and animals.
These materials are also known causes of respiratory problems like asthma as well as cognitive issues such as decreased IQ levels in children exposed before birth.
If you’re wondering if your bed contains these hazardous substances, then now is the time to read on!
Looking after your health with a non-toxic mattress
Looking after your health with a non-toxic mattress
Many of the chemicals in mattresses can leach into your skin while you are sleeping. These harmful chemicals can also affect how well your body recovers from a day’s activity at work or play. Some of these toxic materials have been associated with serious health problems.
If you have thought about buying a new mattress, then you should think twice about an off-the-shelf brand that has been rolled out in giant mattress companies and warehouses (like Costco) and sold at rock bottom prices by chain stores like Ikea. These mattresses are generally made of foams and other chemical-based materials. The sale of toxic mattresses has gotten so bad that a new term has been coined to describe them: “zombie mattresses.”
These are mattresses that people can’t seem to get rid of. They even make an appearance on shows like Trading Spaces and Hoarders. These odd-looking junk beds have been found covered in grass clippings, paint chips, crayon marks, old food cartons, cigarette butts–even dead animals! Everyone tries to dispose of them by dumping them at thrift stores, flea markets, or even roadside if they’re lucky enough to remain intact after being driven over several times! The vehicles used for transportation during the manufacturing from point A to B and then the distribution route is also a source of this contamination.
Mattress manufacturers are pumping out new, inexpensive varieties made from materials that include polyurethane foam, latex rubber, polyester fibers, and plastic–all of which can add up to something toxic. At least six main ingredients in off-the-shelf mattresses have been linked to various health issues: flame retardants, PVC (vinyl), hard plastics, lead in paints used for them, phthalates (plastic softeners), and other heavy metals. These substances leach into your skin while you are sleeping on them! And more than half of them have been associated with serious health problems!
Watch out for these dangers when choosing a non-toxic mattress
1) Flame Retardants: This substance, usually termed chemical flame retardants, which helps keep mattresses from going up in flames, increases the chances of developing various cancers and reproductive problems. The European Union has banned many versions of this chemical doused on furniture, but for some reason, the U.S. is not as concerned about its dangers–yet.
This substance, which helps keep mattresses from going up in flames, can increase your risk of several types of cancer and reproductive problems. The European Union has banned many versions of this chemical doused on furniture, but for some reason, the U.S. is not as concerned about its dangers–yet.
2) Vinyl (PVC): This soft plastic made from polyvinyl chloride often contains phthalate chemicals that act almost like estrogen in the body and can lead to a host of health issues, including reproductive problems. The EU has banned PVC in children’s toys and products that come into direct contact with food.
3) Plastic: The most common form of plastic used on mattresses is polyurethane foam (a petroleum-based material) containing other toxic substances such as heavy metals. This type of mattress leaches potentially carcinogenic chemicals during its manufacture and while you rest on it as your body temperature melts the foam. This is especially true if you have a brand new mattress made from this type of material and has never been slept on before.
The most common form of plastic used on mattresses is polyurethane foam (a petroleum-based material) containing other toxic substances such as heavy metals. This type of mattress leaches potentially carcinogenic chemicals during its manufacture and while you rest on it as your body temperature melts the foam. This is especially true if you have a brand new mattress made from this type of material and has never been slept on before.
4) Lead in Paints: This is another example of toxic chemicals. Most off-the-shelf mattresses are painted with lead-based paint, which can release harmful levels of heavy metal into your bloodstream. Even mattress tag regulations in the U.S. allow for lead to be present in as much as 6 percent of the paint–enough to cause serious health problems over time!
“People need to think about mattresses as a potential source for chemicals like flame retardants and phthalates,” says Dr Michael Caruso, director of the Environmental Health Department at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and an expert on chemical exposures. “I worry about kids who are exposed to these chemicals through their cribs.” To make matters worse, many people don’t even know that there is a chemical problem with their new “mattress”: The majority of off-the-shelf mattresses don’t tell you what’s in them or have vague “all-natural” and “organic” claims but no specifics.
5) Why phthalates are bad for you and how they get in mattresses
In addition, the cover of your mattress may also contain several chemicals. Most waterproof coatings contain PTFE (for example, Teflon®). This non-stick coating is released into your bloodstream 24/7 through tiny holes in your skin while you sleep. It can travel throughout your body and have negative health effects. The DuPont company has acknowledged that “PFOA exposure [from Teflon] at levels above those likely to be experienced by consumers is not safe.” Yet, most mattresses on the market are made with this or other types of chemical finishes.
The same goes for waterproof plastic barriers inside any encasement, often containing phthalates (another hormone disruptor).
“According to several recent independent studies, there is no safe level of exposure to phthalates,” says Dr Alloush at the Washington State Department of Health. “Even low dosages have been shown to affect health significantly.”
Studies have also indicated that people who deal with Teflon in a factory setting face serious risks. As the Environmental Protection Agency notes:
The inhalation of high levels of fluorinated vapors can cause flu-like symptoms; long-term exposure has resulted in liver and kidney damage and lung cancer. The most significant environmental effect appears to be from PFOA [PTFE] because this compound persists and accumulates in humans and animals.
6) Why heavy metals are bad for you and how do they get in mattresses
There are many different types of heavy metals that can be found in off-the-shelf mattresses, most coming from the foam. Depending on what type of metal is present, you could be getting enough exposure to put you at serious risk of diseases such as cancer.
Deceptive sellers and manufacturers often use terms like “medical grade” or “clean,” which makes it hard for the average person to know if the mattress they’re buying contains potentially harmful chemicals. None of these terms means anything concerning chemical content unless accompanied by a material safety data sheet (MSDS) specifying exactly what’s inside–a document that very few mattress manufacturers bother providing. But regulated industries typically have detailed MSDSs on file detailing all the chemicals present in their products. Therefore, you can usually tell if the mattress contains hazardous substances by finding out whether an MSDS is available.”
Another reason to be concerned about what’s in your mattress is that it also poses a serious fire hazard. The chemical powder coatings used on mattresses–especially those made with “breathable” fabrics–can burn at extremely high temperatures and cause toxic fumes to permeate your indoor air. And if you happen to combine chemicals from mattresses with flame retardants from your carpeting and office furniture, well…the results could be catastrophic! So much so that last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended removing polyurethane foam from baby’s cribs after tests found that the chemicals emitted from burning foam were more than 1,000 times higher than those given off during a house fire. What advice did the CPSC give about what to use instead? “Natural” latex rubber foam–which is also used in mattresses.
Diving deeper into this controversy, it takes some sleuthing to determine which specific types of hazardous substances your mattress might contain. However, by gaining access to the MSDSs for hundreds of commercially available bedding products and comparing them to public health studies conducted by governmental agencies like OSHA and NIOSH, we can identify how toxic (or safe) different bedding options are.
Why do you need to be concerned
The following sections explain why you need to be concerned about certain dangerous heavy metals and chemicals found in mattresses and the best alternatives to choose from.
Most people don’t realize that some metals can harm health. Still, since humans are bioaccumulative creatures, any metal you ingest or absorb goes directly into your bloodstream and tissues. In many cases, this could lead to cancer, especially if heavy metals make their way into the brain.
Research has shown that certain chemical compounds containing antimony (a toxic heavy metal) are often used as flame retardants.
Research indicates that these compounds may be carcinogenic, particularly for children who might more readily swallow a pillow. At least one study has shown that antimony compounds can alter the structure of DNA and affect gene expression in ways that may lead to cancer.
But what about the other types of heavy metals (like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and lead) you could be exposed to if your mattress contains flame retardants? To find out more about how these substances might impact your health, let’s look at some recent studies.
“The good news is that there are harmless, even beneficial compounds woven right into the fabric. It’s called natural fiber. The bad news is that most mattresses on the market today contain polyurethane foam or other synthetic materials which may have hazardous chemicals in them, says Ami Gadhia, executive director of the nonprofit Green Science Policy Institute (GSPI).
“Polyurethane foam is used to make mattresses soft and cushiony. But it’s also a highly petrochemical material derived from petroleum byproducts that can release hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates, flame retardants, and volatile organic compounds, as well as cancer-causing agents such as benzene .”
Choosing the right mattress can help you avoid many dangers.
Toxic beds contain hazardous substances to your health, and the risks associated with toxic materials are cumulative over time.
Non-toxic mattresses or organic mattresses are obviously much healthier, being composed of natural latex, synthetic latex, organic cotton, and other natural materials. Adding an organic cotton cover is simply a bonus.
For example, exposure to mercury is particularly dangerous for pregnant women because it’s been linked to congenital disabilities such as cerebral palsy or autism in children born to mothers who consumed large amounts of this neurotoxin while pregnant.
If you’re not sure if any parts of your current mattress could be considered “toxic,” then we encourage you to purchase a new one today!
There are many options in the market from which to choose that won’t harm your well-being.
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