Any mattress made our of petrochemicals (foam, memory foam, synthetic fibers, etc) release toxic chemical gasses which are especially strong when the mattress is new. This off-gassing (aka out-gassing) continues for the life of the mattress.
For anyone who cares about their health this is a serious concern. If you have allergies or suffer from a respiratory problem like asthma, COPD, or Emphysema you should be even more concerned about off-gassing.
What are petrochemicals?
Any product that is petroleum (oil) based. This can be anything from PVC (aka vinyl) which can be used for certain parts in conventional mattresses to a number of other products.
Many synthetic fibers like the stuffing in a conventional mattress are made from petroleum. Many of the fabrics used to cover conventional mattresses, like polyester , are petroleum products which off-gas as well. Just a little fyi plastic drink bottles are also made out of Polyester abbreviated PET (you can read this on the bottom of the bottle).
How to Notice Mattress Off-Gassing?
Some off-gassing can be detected by the human nose some cannot. It is most pungent when a product is new. For example you know that new car smell? I hate to break it to you but that is off-gassing. Also when you buy a new shower curtain that plastic smell it has is off gassing too.
If you have purchased a memory foam mattress you will know that they also have a smell when they are new. This is off-gassing as well.
We have all had the experience of getting one of those cheap free be water bottles from some company, filled it up with water, then yuck that nasty plastic taste. This is very similar to off-gassing only the chemicals have leached into our beverage.
Off-Gasses are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
These off gasses are often VOC’s and are regulated by the EPA as both an indoor and outdoor air pollutants. These organic compounds have a high vapor pressure at room temperature and evaporate into the air.
Just to clarify not all off-gasses are VOCs, but some of the chemicals which off-gas from mattresses are.
How Does Off Gassing Affect My Health?
Off-gassing from adhesives that use formaldehyde can cause acute symptoms like rashes and respiratory problems (like inflaming asthma). Some mattress manufactures use formaldehyde in their adhesives.
The long term risks of off-gassing are not totally understood. But some researchers believe they can cause serious health problems including cancer.
How do I avoid Off-Gassing in a New Mattress?
The only way to avoid off-gassing completely is to buy a mattress that is not made with any petrochemicals or adhesives.
The best option for a mattress that emits no VOCs or off-gasses of any kind is a 100% pure latex mattress. Just make sure you get a single layer latex mattress, if it has layers of different latex foam it may contain adhesives.
You must also ensure that the cover of the mattress has no adhesives in it or you are wasting your time and money.
For more information on mattress offgassing and how latex mattresses can improve your health check out LatexMattressSite.com.
Watching out for your health,