Did you know that, in 2005, an independent lab tested a memory foam mattress and found it to emit 61 chemicals including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene? Most mattresses contain petroleum-based materials that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. They also contain formaldehyde, used to make adhesives and known to cause asthma, allergies, and lung, nose and throat cancers. Mattresses can also contain pesticides in the cotton and, often, flame-retardant chemicals as well.
No one is entirely sure which chemicals are used in traditional mattresses to pass flame retardant tests, as large manufacturers will not divulge their flame-retardant formulas which are considered trade secrets. Class action law suits have been filed against some of these manufacturers, claiming they mislead consumers about the smell of these mattresses being considered “harmless.”
Luckily, organic mattress companies have found that a layer of natural wool provides the same fire protection without the chemicals. More consumers are seeking out mattresses made of natural latex, organic cotton batting and organic wool, but should you ditch your conventional mattress for a green one? If your current mattress is worn out, you aren’t sleeping well at night, and the idea of unknown chemicals lurking in your mattress is causing nightmares, the answer might be “yes.” You just might sleep better and become healthier upon making this change.