What can an Organic Mattress Do for Your Home
Can investing in a quality organic mattress really change your life? You might be surprised.
Organic mattresses protect your family from the volatile organic compounds (VoCs) that conventional mattresses have been found to release into your indoor air, by replacing those toxic materials with safe, natural ones. A green mattress can improve the quality of your indoor air, relieve your allergy symptoms, and even improve your health. Plus it’s the more sustainable option.
Clean Up the Indoor Air
Indoor air quality is so important to health, and the air inside your home may not be as clean as you think — particularly not in your bedroom.
Traditional mattresses are made with synthetic materials — they have been for decades. Some of these materials, like polyurethane foam and synthetic latex, are petroleum products that off-gas volatile toxic compounds (VoCs) into your home. That’s the weird chemical smell that some new mattresses have (you’ll also smell it in new cars, which typically contain a lot of polyurethane foam, too).
Conventionally produced mattresses contain a host of chemicals that you wouldn’t want to sleep in, much less put your kids to bed in, such as formaldehyde and decabromodiphenyl oxide, a fire retardant chemical that has been linked to neurological problems, liver disease, and thyroid dysfunction. Other types of flame retardants, including organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs), are also commonly used in traditional mattresses. Mattresses are required to be fire retardant, but there are better ways to achieve that than to use synthetic materials that release toxic gases into the indoor air.
The cotton used to make conventional mattresses is also an issue. Cotton agriculture accounts for 16 percent of the world’s pesticide, herbicide, insecticide, and defoliant use. Those chemicals stay in the fiber of the cotton and make their way into your bed via your mattress. Some of them can trigger allergic reactions or cause health problems.
Off-gassing from polyurethane and bedding has been known to make people sick. If you’re sensitive to chemical gases, you might feel very sick as soon as you bring a traditional mattress into your home — sensitive individuals have been known to feel nauseated or have asthma attacks when sleeping on a conventional mattress that is off-gassing chemicals into the air. Even after the new mattress has “aired out” and doesn’t have a strong chemical odor anymore, though, it’s still releasing toxic chemicals into the air.
And you or someone in your household might be having symptoms that you haven’t connected to your mattresses. Why would you link symptoms like asthma attacks, allergy flare-ups, skin irritation, or even dizziness, headaches, or vision impairment to your mattress? But these are all symptoms that you can have from breathing the chemicals that your mattress releases in your sleep.
A green mattress is healthier because it’s made with natural materials that don’t release any VoCs, and sustainably grown cotton produced with fewer pesticides. Many green mattresses use wool, because it’s naturally flame retardant, and therefore meets legal requirements that mattresses be flame retardant. Wool is also naturally antibacterial and antifungal, to help keep your mattress clean. Organic cotton can be used to add padding around the springs, without adding unnecessary chemicals.
If you want memory foam, natural latex is the best option. Natural latex foam is not a petroleum product; it’s made from the sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, and the trees have to be thriving in order to harvest the sap, so buying natural latex supports the sustainable rubber industry. Natural latex is naturally resistant to dust mites, and naturally antibacterial and antifungal. It doesn’t have a weird chemical smell, because it’s not releasing any weird chemicals. And even if you have a latex allergy, you can probably still sleep on a latex mattress, as long as there is fabric covering the latex and your doctor okays it — it may not be worth the risk if your allergy is severe.
If you want to make a change that can really improve your quality of life, get a green mattress. You can eliminate a shocking amount of chemicals from your home, and enjoy better health and deeper, more restful sleep.