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What are we sleeping on? Mattresses full of chemicals – How to find green alternatives?


Here are some facts that some people still haven’t discovered regarding commercial mattresses. Many of these products contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, antimony metallic element, and PBDE flame retardants. PBDEs can distort mechanisms that release hormones in our bodies and disrupt calcium signals in the brain. These signals are vital for learning and memorization functions.

Common components include polyurethane foam sourced from petrochemicals as well as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Mattresses marked as “Natural” may not be a hundred percent free from these compounds except if the label says “Organic.”

Here’s the catch. Just because a product is described as organic does not mean it does not contain toxins.  Yet, we continue to sleep on them. It’s not easy to find a cheap non-toxic mattress but we need to be patient. Organic brands use safe materials such as organic wool, cotton, and bamboo as well as natural latex. None of these items contain the abrasive fire prevention substances.


How do we find the right green alternatives?

Rummage around for 100% all-natural foam made of latex from rubber trees. A senior scientist from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and co-author of “Healthy Living Home Guide” Tasha Stoiber tells consumers to check materials for polyurethane foam because it can trigger respiratory ailments and skin irritation.

Infants are highly vulnerable to such chemicals. In fact, baby cribs can have at least 30 hazardous VOCs like phenols (antiseptics) and formaldehyde (likely carcinogen present in adhesives and glues). The EWG recommends latex, cotton, and wool which are not treated with polyurethane.

Be particular with merchandise labels. According to Consumer Reports Magazine, there are inconsistencies with regards to labels. Some address only one concern while others deal with all aspects such as farms that produce these materials and factories which manufacture the mattresses. Look for these two certifications:

  • Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS – This is the primary processing standard worldwide for organic textile and fabric which includes social as well as ecological benchmarks. It is supported by the whole textile supply chain’s impartial certification.
  • Global Organic Latex Standard or GOLS – Latex mattresses ensure 30 percent more pressure reinforcement and contouring support compared to memory foam. The natural rubber latex foam is also very durable and lasts longer than other products.

There are manufacturing firms that set stringent limits on Volatile Organic Compounds, flame retardants, and dye for coloring. Even then, GOTS and GOLS trademarks indicate 85 percent plus of guaranteed organic latex and textile. These labels include an extensive list of prohibited chemicals. Likewise, the mattresses were made to help safeguard our environment. The EWG specialist added that the two certifications are comprehensive from the farm up to the finished products.

Essential Considerations

In summing up, additional factors for choosing safe mattresses should include core elements and sources of materials specifically in the United States. Find out if glue is used to connect the layers because adhesives are generally noxious. Look for companies that manufacture mattresses manually and bind the foam using buttons or other natural materials. If fire retardant is used, identify the type of slowing agent. Choose the man-made compound and not synthetic chemicals.

Aside from GOTS and GOLS, organic materials certified by the United States Department of Agriculture can turn out as a safer purchase. Another recommended certification is the GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification Program Gold. This means the chemical emissions are significantly low making it appropriate for infants, kids, and elderly folks.

Look for the legal tag as well. These legally required tags are law labels that describe fabrics and fillings regulating American mattresses, upholstery, and stuffed products like comforters, pillows, and toys. Last but not least is to review these facts before you order your mattress from an e-commerce shop or proceed to the nearest retail outlet.

People spend at least eight hours daily in bed. What takes place when we lie down affects the other 16 hours of our lives. The mattress is therefore a big investment that we will make for health and safety. Inexpensive traditional mattresses usually last from five to 10 years. Green brands may be expensive but include warranties of 25 years which means these last longer than their counterparts. Think about it carefully before making a choice!



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