Although many of the words on that list may be hard to pronounce, they’re all volatile organic compounds – chemicals – that can be found in your memory foam mattress. These 61 chemicals are emitted in your home as you sleep, dramatically decreasing the quality of your indoor air environment. These chemicals found in conventional memory foam mattresses have been linked to skin irritations, eye irritations, various forms of cancer, developmental problems in children, and respiratory problems. This is because unsafe mattresses emit these toxic chemicals into your bedroom and body – possibly making you sick.
Although manufacturers of memory foam commonly put these chemicals into their mattresses, there is no reason to. While manufacturers put VOCs into your mattress as a flame retardant, there are several coil spring and memory foam mattress companies that do not because there are natural flame-retardants that can be used. Certain mattresses, particularly those that are organic and are made of natural materials, do not have or emit VOCs yet they still meet fire safety requirements.
What’s most infuriating is that there has been research linking certain flame-retardants to cancer since the 1970s in credible peer-reviewed scientific journals, yet both our government and industry refuse to do the right thing and look out for our health. Although some chemicals have been banned over the past few decades – many flame retardants reports Environmental Health Perspectives – there are still many in our mattresses that we either know or suspect have links to a variety of illnesses.
While one can wait for change, as a consumer we have to act now to get these products – which are continually emitting harmful toxins into our homes and bodies – out of our homes and replaced with safer ones. There are numerous safe products (like non-toxic organic or natural memory foam mattresses) on the market currently that offer us protection from these chemicals and peaceful nights of sleep. We deserve to know that we’re safe and that these 61 chemicals are not making their way into our bodies.
*This list is taken from Bader’s Toxic Bedrooms: Your Guide to a Safe Night’s Sleep. He had a popular memory foam mattress tested by an independent laboratory.
- About.com: Chemistry
- Science Mag – Flame-retardant additives as possible cancer
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences– New Thinking on Flame Retardants
- Toxic Bedrooms: Your Guide to a Safe Night’s Sleep by Walter Bader