Would you choose to spend a third of your time exposed to chemicals that cause cancer, hormonal disruptions, hearing loss and behavioral changes? The average person sleeps eight hours a day, somewhere around 229,961 hours in the average lifetime. That’s a third of your time on Earth. If you’re not sleeping on a healthy mattress, you’re spending every minute of that time snuggled up to toxins that can make you sick.
What’s in Your Mattress?
Mattress manufacturers don’t tell you what’s in their product because they don’t have to. The only requirement is that they be flame-retardant, so if there’s a house fire while you’re sleeping, your bed doesn’t go up in flames before you have a chance to escape.
Manufacturers usually meet that requirement by saturating mattresses in chemicals that are hazardous to your health.
Mattresses made before 2004 contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers, called PBDEs for short. Researchers have been studying the negative health effects of PBDEs for more than 20 years. The Environmental Working Group says exposure leads to reduced sperm count, a reduction in thyroid hormone production, hearing disorders, mood changes, birth defects and cancer.
You don’t have to sleep on a toxic mattress for years before you start to feel the effects. Thyroid hormones were disrupted after only short-term exposure, with levels altering after two weeks. Long-term exposure can cause a disruption even at low levels.
Hypothyroidism causes fatigue, hair loss, decreased sex drive, anxiety and weight gain. The impact can be
especially devastating during the first trimester of pregnancy. Pregnant women with suppressed thyroid hormones were more than twice as likely to have a child with a low IQ.
When an infant’s brain is developing, it is especially vulnerable to neurotoxins. Minute doses of PBDEs given to rodents while are they are developing fetuses or shortly after birth harmed learning ability, memory, behavior and the development of key motor skills. In clinical research, the problems got worse with age, not better.
Some studies indicated just one dose could cause permanent negative health effects. When 10 day old mice received a small amount, they showed serious learning and memory deficits and were less able to adapt to new situations. PBDEs also may impact reproductive system development, create enlarged livers and cause high cholesterol.
Other Toxic Chemicals
If you bought your mattress more recently, unless it’s an organic mattress, it probably still contains toxins. Legislation banned PBDEs in 2004, but manufacturers replaced them with alternatives that could be just as dangerous. The most common involve the same birth defects, lowered IQ, neurodevelopmental deficits and emotional problems associated with PBDEs.
Many mattresses are made of polyurethane foam. It is soft and lightweight. It resists mold and mildew growth when exposed to moisture. It’s easy to shape into foam toppers and it’s hypo-allergenic. It also produces volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The Environmental Protection Agency reports VOCs are widely used in household products. They can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, organ and nervous system damage and cancer. Besides polyurethane, many mattresses use formaldehyde as an adhesive to bond materials together. Formaldehyde causes allergies, breathing disorders and respiratory related cancers.
The volatile organic compounds in your mattress don’t stay there. They leak out and settle into household dust and can be transported all over your home.
Still Not Fire Safe
The fact that your mattress is resistant to flames doesn’t mean it can’t still kill you in a fire. Chemical saturated foam releases more carbon monoxide and smoke than materials in an organic mattress that hasn’t been treated. Most people who die in a fire succumb to smoke inhalation before the flames ever reach them.
Who Should Be Concerned?
Everyone in the family can benefit from sleeping on a non-toxic mattress. Here’s why each member needs special protection.
- Pregnant women – Toxin exposure during pregnancy can harm both the woman and the baby she carries. A University of California San Francisco study found almost all pregnant women carry PBDEs and other toxins in their bloodstream, urine, amniotic fluid and cord blood.
- Infants – Toxins may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and can disrupt healthy brain development.
- Children – Sleep disruptions and an unhealthy sleep environment interfere with waking attention and learning patterns.
- Adults – One in five Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Toxins may intensify the effects of respiratory illnesses and introduce known carcinogens.
The early symptoms of exposure to mattress toxins include morning headaches, aching muscles, difficulty concentrating and upset stomach. Children report trouble paying attention, respiratory issues, and an increased number of allergy symptoms.
Protect yourself and your family by choosing a non-toxic mattress. Instead of buying a mattress covered in flame retardant chemicals, choose an organic mattress that meets standards using natural ingredients.
Untreated, organic wool is naturally fire resistant. It resists mold and mildew and repels water, which makes it a safe, natural alternative to polyurethane foam. Organic cotton grown in pesticide-free soil and organic latex from rubber trees also satisfy legislation and provide a healthy mattress alternative. However, organic materials can attract bacteria and irritate allergies, and they aren’t always as comfortable as other safe alternatives.
Intellibed mattresses are healthy mattresses made from materials that are superior for both cushioning and durability. Baby and child beds are made completely without foam. They provide fire-resistant comfort with a 100 percent non-toxic gel matrix. They are reinforced with steel springs, the safest option, and covered in organic cotton.
Adult beds also have the non-toxic gel matrix and steel springs. Gel Matrix is hypoallergenic, does not produce toxic fumes, and prevents bacteria growth. The foam we use comes with a CertiPUR certification to prove it’s one of the healthiest foams available. It doesn’t contain formaldehyde, chemical fire inhibitors or any other toxins. Our beds are fireproofed with a silica thread woven throughout the organic cotton or cotton polyester outer cover.
At Intellibed, we want our customers to know they’re not just making the most comfortable mattress choice, but also the safest. Visit us online to talk to a mattress expert or find a store near you today.