About Eco-Friendly Mattresses

What to know about healthy bedding options

As adults, we should spend 7-8 hours each day sleeping in bed, or one-third of our day. Therefore, the mattress we sleep on may affect our everyday health. Unfortunately, most mattress makers use petrochemicals in their production, as well as synthetic foam products and chemical protective layers in the construction of our beds. As we breathe through the night, sleeping in our skin, these chemicals off-gas are absorbed into our bodies unknowingly.

Documented in the book Toxic Bedrooms by Walter Bader, several mattresses were sent to an Atlanta-based lab revealing chemical emissions from up to 61 chemicals in a memory-foam mattress. Switching to an eco-friendly mattress will support healthy sleeping and eliminate the unseen pollutants from your bedroom.

Chemicals in conventional mattresses

The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) requires conventional mattresses to undergo a 70-second open flame test in an effort to save lives, compelling most mattress manufacturers to use polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as a flame retardant. PBDEs slow the rate of open fire spreading and lower the temperature of combustion.

According to Environmental Defence, an active Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to protecting people and the environment, PBDEs may cause reproductive and developmental disorders, and can cause cancer. There are still a lot of questions regarding the long-term effects to PBDE exposure, reports the EPA's Experimental Toxicology Division.

Most conventional mattresses in the US (reported by Mark Strobel, founder of Strobel Technologies, which manufactures toxin-free matresses) also contain the chemicals boric acid, antimony trioxide, formaldehyde and ammonium polyphosphate to meet flammability tests and standards. The US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) proves these poisonous chemicals may leach to the surface of our beds and are consequently absorbed by our skin into our bodies, but has not restricted or regulated their usage.

What are eco-friendly mattresses made of?

A smart alternative to the nonrenewable and chemical materials used in conventional mattresses is the eco-friendly (and human friendly) mattress. Eco-friendly mattresses generally contain sustainable and natural materials such as organic cotton, humanely produced wool, kapok filling and natural rubber.

Wool is naturally flame retardant and also regulates moisture, making it ideal for peaceful slumber without worrying about mildew and mold buildup. Organic cotton is grown and produced without the harmful pesticides and chemicals used in conventionally produced cotton. Kapok is a natural, renewable alternative to down from the sustainably harvested seed pods of Kapok trees. Many eco-friendly mattresses are made from natural rubber or latex, which comes from tapping the wood of rubber trees for sap used for production. These environmentally preferable materials are free of chemical components and are responsibly farmed and harvested.

Choosing an eco-friendly mattress

Fortunately, natural and eco-friendly mattresses are more available on the market now. You can find many retailers and ordering options on the Internet or find an organic mattress in a bed store near you. You may expect the price of these mattresses to be higher than conventional mattresses, but remember that your investment helps the health of your family.

Additionally, some eco-friendly mattresses are even biodegradable. Eco-friendly foam mattresses are made from natural latex or rubber which can be made into different densities depending on your preference. Eco-friendly foam mattresses conform to your body, supporting peaceful and comfortable sleep. The natural rubber in eco-friendly foam mattresses comes from the sap of rubber trees. Natural rubber or latex is inherently resistant to bacteria, mildew and mold. If you're in love with memory foam, there are now natural alternatives to the memory foam mattress called Naturapedic.

Regardless of your mattress preferences, it's important to decide what your priorities are in relation to your comfort, budget and health, and commit to these values prior to shopping and before you purchase any eco-friendly mattress.

Eco-friendly toppers

Eco-friendly mattress toppers are also available to consumers. Eco-friendly toppers are the most economical way to healthier bed health. These can be added on top of your existing mattress, providing extra comfort and keeping natural materials closest to your skin as you sleep. Eco-friendly toppers are produced without harmful petrochemical additives, most frequently replacing man-made products with natural fibers such as wool and organic cotton. Wool is absorbent and breathable, making it a perfect layer to put between your skin and your mattress. To care for this organic product, simply expose to air and sun on each side every two months.

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