Are you and your family still sleeping on conventional mattresses, made with synthetic materials and cotton grown with pesticides? If so, it’s time to upgrade to a healthier, safer green mattress.
Green mattresses are made with organic, all-natural cotton, wool, and latex. They contain fewer hazardous chemicals because they aren’t treated with dangerous chemical flame retardants, and the cotton used in them is grown without pesticides. If members of your household suffer from allergies, asthma, respiratory complaints, or mysterious health symptoms, your traditionally produced conventional mattresses could be to blame. Let’s take a look at some of the dangers of conventional mattresses — and why you should swap your traditional beds for organic mattresses.
Conventional Mattresses Release Toxic Chemicals into Your Home
Have you ever brought home a mattress and unwrapped it, only to be greeted with a strong chemical odor? That strong odor is the result of the synthetic materials in your new mattress off-gassing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
VOCs are toxic chemical compounds that are either used in, or produced by, the manufacturing process of many consumer goods. The synthetic foams and plastics used in conventional mattresses can emit these toxic chemicals.
As of 2007, mattresses sold in the U.S. must be flame retardant enough to withstand a two-foot-wide blowtorch flame for 70 seconds. Manufacturers of conventional mattresses often achieve this by dowsing the mattress materials in flame retardant chemicals that have been found to be responsible for causing numerous serious health problems, ranging from impaired IQ, memory, and learning to cancer and reproductive problems. Organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs) are the biggest culprits, and they’re found in all kinds of mattress and mattress pad products, including those made for babies and children, to whom they may present the greatest danger. Other chemicals that have been used in the past to make mattresses more flame retardant, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs), have also been found to be harmful enough to human health, the environment, or both to warrant a ban on their use in the United States.
It’s not just flame retardants that you have to worry about, either. The production of the synthetic latex used in many conventional mattress products creates carcinogenic compounds, like formaldehyde, that remain in the mattress throughout its lifecycle. Stain and water repellents, and even the bleaching agents used in the production of conventional cotton, can also cause cancer.
Conventional Materials Devastate the Environment
Traditional mattresses are produced with little concern for the environmental effects of producing synthetic materials and treating those materials with flame retardants and other chemicals. Much of the detrimental impact of conventional mattresses comes from the chemicals used in their production or created during their production.
Conventional mattresses are made with conventionally grown cotton, one of the world’s most pesticide-heavy crops. Those pesticides soak into the cotton fibers during growth and can never be removed from the finished fabric. Runoff from the fertilizers used to grow conventional cotton finds its way into the water table, where it harms aquatic life and pollutes the water.
Even the wool used in conventional mattresses contains pesticides, because the sheep are dipped while alive to control pests, like fleas, lice, and mange, that thrive in their fleece. Most sheep are dipped multiple times, often with different chemical treatments for different infections and infestations, and the dips have been found to be environmentally harmful. Sheep dips contaminate groundwater and are highly toxic to amphibians and aquatic life, while also being somewhat toxic to humans. The agricultural antibiotics used in farming sheep can also move into the water table and contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Green Mattresses Last Longer
Of course, good mattresses aren’t cheap, and a green mattress may cost a little more than a similar conventionally produced one. But it’s well worth paying a little more for a mattress that won’t emit toxic and carcinogenic chemicals into your home.
However, green mattresses tend to be made with the highest quality, organic materials, and a high degree of craftsmanship. Natural latex is naturally antibacterial, and organic wool is naturally flame retardant and water resistant, so there’s less need to use chemicals in these mattresses, and many manufacturers are using alternative strategies, such as wrapping mattresses in a knit cover that melts on itself when it catches fire, smothering the flames without the need for chemicals. The high-end materials used in these mattresses will last longer than cheaper conventional materials, and the craftsmanship that goes into these mattresses will help you get many more years of use out of your organic mattress.
If you’re still sleeping on old-fashioned, conventionally produced mattresses, it’s time to put them to bed. Create a healthier, safer environment in your home with green mattresses — and do your part to slow climate change, too.