Can your mattress be making you sick?
Purchasing a mattress can seem boring and ordinary, but in fact, it is one of the most important investments of your life. One-third of your life is spent in bed, and the choice of mattresses in some way is an investment in health. Of course, it is important that the mattress is comfortable because you do not want to wake up every morning with back or neck pain. But the comfort is not the only thing on which we should pay attention! More serious health consequences can occur from off-gassing of your mattress.
What causes the off-gassing of your mattress?
Although new mattresses are advertised as a super-comfortable option that will solve all your problems during sleep, and you will fell like you are sleeping on a cloud, the truth is that they are made from materials that are very comfortable but also very toxic. And, frankly, most mattresses don’t smell very pleasant, especially the memory foam mattresses. The smell that occurs from manufactured products is deemed “off-gassing”. Think about the smell of a new car, a new bath mat, a new rug, a new mattress or the clothes you just picked up from the dry cleaners. These smells are releasing toxic off-gassing.
These intense smells are not good for your health and come from petroleum-based products. No matter what type of mattress you have or are planning to purchase most of them have foam. Memory foam mattresses have the most, but so do air and coils mattresses, the difference is in the thickness of the foam. It is unlikely to find natural, non-toxic organic foam. They are all made from petrochemicals. Of course, petroleum is a natural resource but its evaporation exposure is harmful to human health, has an unpleasant odor and even more unpleasant effects, such as headaches, asthma, burning eyes and sinus problems.
Flame retardants are another toxin found in mattress. Flame retardants were added because the foam is made out of petrochemicals, which is quite flammable. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) was commonly used as a fire retardant in older mattresses, but was banned in 2005. This chemical is great at stopping fires, but it is also very effective at stopping the thyroid gland, liver, disrupting brain development in young children and could have a negative impact on the nervous system and is considered to be the cause of hyperactivity and many autoimmune diseases. It accumulates in fat tissue, blood and breast milk. Although it is designed to prevent accidents, these chemicals are a silent killer that do the opposite. This material was banned in 2005 but was replaced with very similar products that have a similar effect to our health.
The mattress is most toxic when the smell is present, but even when the smell disappears…evaporation continues! The foam will evaporate over the next years isocyanate, whose inhalation during the night can lead to headaches and the respiratory problems.
Formaldehyde is another harmful ingredient in mattresses. Formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in the manufacture of memory foam and instead of rest and sleeping on a cloud, it can cause rashes or respiratory problems, and is considered to be one of the causes of cancer.
How to sleep healthy?
Since most mattresses are made of some kind of foam, whether it comes to this modern, memory foam, or ordinary foam in those old mattresses, it is almost impossible to avoid off-gassing.
To reduce off-gassing, leave the mattress to dissipate before use. Remove the wrap and place the mattress in the garage or even better outside. Not all off-gassing will disappear, but you will not be exposed to the strongest and most dangerous toxins.
Put on a mattress cover, it will not completely prevent off-gassing, but it can be reduced. Mattress covers are a little tricky because if the cover is of the cloth that prevents dust mites and allergens it will not protect from off-gassing. Only plastic of adequate thickness and density can prevent off-gassing, but the plastic again emits its own off-gassing. It’s hard to choose between two evils!
The only way to completely avoid harmful gases is to purchase an organic mattress. Organic mattresses are made of natural materials and natural flame retardants such as:
Organic Wool – Organic wool does not contain pesticides, harmful chemicals or any hormones.
Natural Latex – The best choice is a mattress made of 100% natural latex. Natural latex is a product obtained from the rubber tree, but is relatively an expensive variant of making the mattress. Check the ingredients in the mattress for any added synthetic latex. Synthetic latex is an indication that the mattress will produce off-gassing.
Organic Cotton – Organic cotton is non-GMO (Genetically Modified) and is not treated with pesticides, chemicals and formaldehyde. Non-organic cotton is GMO, and it is the most toxic crop grown in the United States containing the most chemicals. In addition after non-organic cotton is woven into the fabric, it is then treated with formaldehyde.
Mattress advertisements are appealing to consumers. Memory foam mattresses are allegedly non-allergic, healthy and comfortable. But that’s just what that consumer wants to hear! The truth is that they can be a trigger for these diseases, but also for many other, much more dangerous illnesses. If you just purchased a new mattress and develop respiratory problems, headaches, nausea and weakness you may be sensitive to the toxins and have become ill from sleeping on that comfortable mattress.
Last year my son transitioned from his crib, and I knew of the potential dangerous issues of mattresses, I opted to buy him a Savvy Rest organic mattress. I did not think it would be comfortable, but his mattress is more comfortable than our mattress. I am very happy with it.
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