by Audrey Chen
We spend up to one third of our life sleeping. Shouldn’t this sleep be the healthiest it can be? Mattresses can be a very large source of chemical exposure and have been linked to health problems such as allergies, asthma and fertility problems/hormone imbalance.
As required by federal regulations, today’s mattresses contain flame retardant chemicals which are petrochemical-based and synthetic. As we sleep on them, they are constantly off-gassing chemical fumes which we are breathing in while we sleep and are being absorbed by our skin. A mattress can still off-gas even when it is 10 years old and there is no remaining chemical smell.
So, how does one avoid or prevent exposure to these toxic fumes? The answer is not simple or clear cut.
- Swap out your toxic mattress for an organic one.
Be thorough when purchasing a mattress. Ask if it’s organic or, better yet, what chemicals were used in making it. Even mattresses that are called organic can have materials that have some toxic off-gassing. Ask what types of chemicals or flame retardants are used inside of the mattress and if it off-gasses. Ask if the mattress has been tested for off-gasing.
- Put distance between yourself and the mattress.
If purchasing an organic mattress is not in the budget, invest in a mattress topper. Getting a few inches of distance between you and the toxic mattress may make a difference in the amount of exposure to toxins. Another option is a plastic cover. Polyethylene is considered the safest, most non-toxic plastic available, because it has a simple molecular structure that does not require toxic chemical additives like phthalates. This method might not be the most comfortable as it is noisy; a mattress pad or topper would also be needed.
- Purchase organic sheets and pillows.
As the face and skin are in direct contact with sheets and pillows while sleeping, making the bed with safe and non-toxic bedding is equally important to health.
There are many things to spend money on, and while we can’t be protected from all exposures of chemicals, there are steps that can be taken to minimize exposure—and rest easier at night.
Resources for Organic Mattresses and Bedding:
Your Organic Bedroom:
and Paoli, 610-647-4068
The Organic Mattress Store:
Audrey Chen is the publisher of Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery counties. Connect with her at 646-361-7031 or Publisher@NABuxMont.com. November 2014.