One third of your life in spent in bed trying to regenerate and recharge the body for a new day, so it just makes sense to have a great bed – especially a great mattress. Do you know what is lurking in your mattress? Is your mattress a green mattress?
Mattress manufacturers use glues to bond the inner layers of mattresses together as well as to bond the fabric cover to the core. Adhesives can be rolled to bond each layer or they can be diluted in water and sprayed over each surface to be bonded. This second application is called a water based adhesive. A water based adhesive is a simple process whereby water is mixed in with a solvent based adhesive to make it easier to spray the glue over each mattress surface. When the glue dries, all water molecules in the adhesive evaporate and only the adhesive is left behind. Unfortunately, these adhesives have been found to emit Volatile Organic Content.
The long-term health effects that may occur after prolonged exposure to Volatile Organic Content found in adhesive or glue solvents include cancers, damage to the heart, liver, central nervous system and kidneys.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) approved a 2006 federal regulation (CFR 1640) enforcing a strict national flameproof mattress standard, mandating all new mattresses to withstand a two-foot wide blowtorch open-flame test, for 70 seconds. This means that the mattresses must be treated with a fire retardant, many of which are toxic. Hazardous chemicals found in toxic fire retardants include:
- Boric Acid (reproductive and developmental toxin, used as a pesticide)
- Antimony (causes heart and lung damage, possible carcinogen)
- Decabromodiphenyl Oxide (causes hair and memory loss, possible carcinogen)
These highly toxic chemicals leech though pillow and mattress covers and are absorbed through the skin. Prolonged exposure to poisonous VOC’s and toxic chemicals when your body is in a regenerating and vulnerable state should not be taken lightly.
Exposure to toxic fire retardants has been linked to:
- heart, lung and kidney damage
- learning and memory deficit
- sudden infant death syndrome
- birth defects
- skin irritations
Chronic exposure to these chemicals causes them to accumulate in the body .These chemicals have been detected in the blood stream, in breast milk and in umbilical cord blood.
Fortunately, there is a natural, eco-friendly solution to providing a safe and comfortable, green mattress. Natural rubber latex, which does not contain the toxic ingredients, is one great option for a healthy and restful night’s sleep. These mattresses offer superior body support by providing pressure point relief to hips and shoulders. The natural latex also helps to regulate the body temperature. Unbleached organic cotton fabrics, bamboo blend fabrics and wool are other great choices along with the natural latex because they are:
- Mildew and Mold Resistant
- Dust-Mite and Bed Bug Deterrent
- Toxic emission free
By using unbleached and uncolored cotton fabric, there is no exposure to chemicals that are used in the bleaching process. The bamboo blend fabric uses 30% bamboo and 70% polyester. While being natural and sustainable, bamboo is unfortunately not durable enough by itself. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world and does not require any pesticide or fertilizer to grow. So it is one of the most sustainable materials available.
The fire barrier in the eco-friendly mattress is usually an all natural 100% wool padding, a Kevlar mesh or a cotton fabric treated with non-toxic fire retardant agent.
Some eco-friendly mattresses are also made with a memory foam. There is a memory foam which is made with 100% petroleum oil and therefore is not very eco-friendly. A new type of memory foam such as a product called Biofoam replaces 20% of the petroleum oil with castor bean oil, which is a natural plant oil. This accounts for less dependency on the oil industry and most importantly, this foam has no detected harmful off-gassing and no detected formaldehyde. Green tea extract is sometimes embedded into the memory foam for natural, long lasting odor control.
Many green mattresses are self supportive. They do not require traditional box springs to give the proper support, as long as the mattresses are placed on a flat, stable foundation or bed frame. This eliminates the box springs as another form of waste for the environment.