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In today’s world, consumers are more concerned than ever with choosing safe products that will contribute to healthier lifestyles. Over the years, more and more common household items have been deemed toxic and unsafe, including certain mattress materials.

By choosing the safest mattress available on the market, we ensure that we are not exposing ourselves to  harmful chemicals throughout the night. There are more non-toxic mattress brands to choose from now than ever before. Choosing the safest mattress is easier than ever, as long as you know what to look for, and what materials to avoid.

Importance of a Safe Mattress

When there are so many types of mattresses available for purchase, why is choosing a non-toxic mattress so important? When you have the choice to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals, you should.

While traditional, chemically-treated mattresses are not imminently toxic in the sense that you will immediately fall ill, repeated exposure can have harmful effects, and cause lasting damage.

Health Benefits

By sleeping on a safe mattress each night, you avoid exposure to chemicals that pose risks to human health. In turn, you can derive many health benefits from sleeping on safe mattresses, which are also called green mattresses and organic mattresses.

Allergy Reduction

Many of the chemical components of non-organic mattresses can have major impacts on your respiratory health. So, when you choose a mattress that does not include these nasty chemicals and synthetic materials, you will be doing your respiratory system a favor.

Organic, natural mattress materials like latex are  hypoallergenic. This means they are naturally resistant to dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and other pollutants that can cause allergic reactions. Additionally, healthy and safe mattresses will not cause sore throats and irritated sinuses.

Quality Sleep

When you are able to breathe more easily with a natural, chemical-free mattress, your sleep quality will improve. It has been proven time and again that proper sleep is essential for health. Choosing a safe mattress that is comfortable and soothing will boost your sleep quality, without negative side effects.

Temperature Regulation

Many synthetic mattress materials tend to sleep hot, meaning they trap heat against the sleeper’s body. This can have detrimental effects on a person’s sleep quality. The best sleep environment is a cool one. Natural, safe latex mattresses do not sleep hot because they are breathable, and allow for airflow.

Environmental Benefits

Along with the health benefits natural, safe mattresses have, they also have benefits for the environment.

The manufacturing processes used to create synthetic mattresses release harmful chemicals into the air. This is bad for the air quality inside a person’s home, as well as for the environment. These mattresses are not built to last as long, so they end up in landfills more frequently.

Natural latex mattresses, on the other hand, are made from the sap of rubber trees. The process is completely natural and safe for the environment. It is sustainable, and eco-friendly. Additionally, latex mattresses last much longer than synthetic mattresses, so they have to be replaced less often.

Toxins Found in Many Mattresses

It is disturbing how many harmful chemicals you can find in mattresses when mattresses are designed to be slept on for several hours each day. That is why it is so important to choose safe, non-toxic mattresses that will not expose you to any substances that might cause ill effects.

Read on to learn about toxins that are found in several mattresses on the market today. Surprisingly, none of these chemicals are banned from mattresses. It is up to you as a consumer to do your research when buying a new mattress, so you know that you can get a good night’s sleep on a safe, chemical-free mattress.

Harmful Chemicals

  • Petrochemicals make up most conventional mattresses. These are not natural ingredients, despite how certain mattress companies attempt to market them.
  • Polyurethane foam makes up the majority of foam mattresses. Do not be fooled by natural-sounding memory foam mattress brands. Memory foam and even soybean foam are derived from polyurethane.
  • Methyl chloride is found in memory foam mattress material as well. It can cause reproductive issues, damage the liver, and even cause brain damage.
  • Isocyanate compounds are found in memory foam. Constant inhalation of these chemicals can cause inflammation and neurological issues.
  • Naphthalene is found in memory foam. When inhaled, it can contribute to thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune diseases.
  • Diphenyl diisocyanate is found in synthetic latex. It can contribute to asthma symptoms and other respiratory issues, as well as problems with immunity.

Carcinogens

  • Formaldehyde is the big one. It has been proven to have cancerous effects. It can also impact the thyroid, autoimmune disorders, and contribute to diabetes.
  • Methylenedianiline is found in memory foam. It might have cancerous effects, along with damaging the liver and thyroid.
  • Chloroprene is found in synthetic latex. It can cause a laundry list of issues, including fatigue, insomnia, liver problems, hair loss, immunity dysfunction, and liver cancer.

Harmful Mattress Flame Retardants

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires that mattresses can withstand fire to a certain extent. Safe mattresses use natural fire retardants that are not made of harmful chemical compounds.

However, many of the non-organic mattresses that are not considered necessarily safe are covered in chemical flame retardants that have been deemed unhealthy for humans.

It is easy to get lost in the strange-sounding names and acronyms of chemical flame retardants. Read on to learn more about some of the common ones used in synthetic mattresses. You will see why natural, non-toxic fire retardants are much safer, and should always be chosen whenever possible.

PBDEs

PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) were some of the first chemical flame retardants used in mattresses. Unfortunately, PBDEs can be absorbed into the body with very dangerous effects. They have been linked to:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Reproductive issues
  • Developmental deficits
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

New mattresses should not be constructed with these fire retardants, as they have been banned in the US. However, they might still be contained in older, used mattresses, or in mattresses constructed outside the US.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is another mattress flame retardant. If boric acid sounds familiar, it is because it is most commonly used as a roach killer. It can be extremely toxic when absorbed into the skin, and it is highly water-soluble, so absorption happens quickly.

Antimony Trioxide

Antimony trioxide is a regular flame retardant that contains heavy metals.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed antimony trioxide toxic. Not only is it slightly water-soluble, which means it can be absorbed through sweat and other bodily fluids during the night, but it also becomes airborne when used in mattresses as a flame retardant. It is also thought to be carcinogenic.

Decabromodiphenyl Oxide

Decabromodiphenyl Oxide is a flame retardant very similar to the already banned PBDE fire retardants. However, it is not yet banned across the US like PDBEs are, though it has similar effects.

Studies have shown that this chemical flame retardant is associated with thyroid dysfunction, reproductive issues, developmental problems, neurological deficits, and even tumors in the liver.

Melamine

This is another water-soluble chemical flame retardant that can cause kidney malfunction. It has also been linked to bladder cancer, and reproductive issues.

Vinylidene Chloride

While vinylidene chloride is less commonly used as a mattress flame retardant, it is still known to cause the following symptoms through extended exposure:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Spasms
  • Convulsions

It is also thought to be a carcinogen.

BFRs

Brominated flame retardants (BFR) are commonly used in all kinds of products. This type of flame retardant is known to affect the thyroid system. It is thought to be linked with diabetes, neurobehavioral disorders, developmental disorders, reproductive disorders, and cancer.

TCEP and TDCPP

Both TCEP — tris (2-carboxyethyl) phosphine — and TDCP — tris (1,3-dichloropropyl-2) phosphate — are common fire retardants used in everyday products from furniture to baby strollers.

TDCPP has been associated with cancerous tumors in multiple organs, and TCEP has been linked with developmental disorders, and respiratory system issues.

Safe Mattress Flame Retardants

With so many highly toxic and unsafe fire retardants on the market, it is surprising to realize that there are safe and natural flame retardant alternatives. Unlike chemical flame retardants, the following safe mattress fire retardants are derived from natural ingredients that do not cause harm, and are non-toxic.

Pure Wool

As simple as it might sound, this chemical-free natural flame retardant is a great choice for use on safe mattresses. Natural latex mattresses typically use organic wool flame retardants because organic wool is non-toxic and works as well as nasty fire retardants, but without the negative side effects.

Wool is naturally fire retardant, and does not ignite easily. Wool does not catch fire until it reaches about 570 degrees celsius, while other fabrics will catch at about 250 degrees Celcius. If wool does catch fire, it typically smolders and extinguishes itself rather quickly, producing minimal heat.

It is amazing that this all-natural product works so well as a flame retardant while remaining completely safe for human exposure.

Silica

While organic wool is most commonly used as a natural flame retardant, hydrated silica is another great and healthy choice. Hydrated silica is naturally derived from silicon dioxide, which makes up a portion of the Earth’s surface. Like wool, silica is a non-toxic and all-natural flame retardant that is perfectly safe for human exposure.

Kevlar

Some mattresses use kevlar threading to achieve fire retardant status. Kevlar is made of plastic. Therefore it cannot constitute an all-natural or organic flame retardant. However, kevlar is safe and non-toxic, so it is a better alternative than any of the harmful chemical flame retardants mentioned above.

What Is Offgassing?

Non-organic, synthetic mattresses go through a process called  off-gassing. All kinds of mattresses that are not 100 percent organic go through this process, especially mattresses that are shipped in small boxes like memory foam.

Off-gassing is the process when VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are released from a mattress into the air. This process can last anywhere from a few hours to a week or two, depending on what materials make up the mattress in question. Additionally, as toxic mattresses degrade, the off-gassing process continues. So it is never truly over.

It can be dangerous to sleep on a mattress during the off-gassing process, as breathing in these volatile organic compounds in large quantities can cause negative, harmful side effects:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Some volatile organic compounds are thought to be carcinogenic, like formaldehyde. There is no reason you should put yourself and your family members through this harmful process when you have the option to choose a safe mattress to sleep on. When you buy a new mattress that is all-natural and made of safe, organic materials, you can avoid off-gassing.

What Is a Non-Toxic Mattress?

A non-toxic mattress, as we have alluded to so far, is a mattress that does not contain chemicals that can be detrimental to human health. A non-toxic mattress is safe, healthy, and will not cause negative side effects. The mattress will not go through off-gassing because it contains no chemicals or VOCs.

Mattress manufacturers who produce non-toxic mattresses use different terms to describe their products, including “non-toxic,” “natural,” “organic,” “green,” “eco-friendly,” and more. It is important to know that any company can use these terms, though, and that a truly non-toxic mattress must meet certain criteria for it to be considered safe.

Best Non-Toxic Mattress Materials

There are all kinds of mattress materials on the market. From innerspring to memory foam to latex to hybrid blends, you will find a wide array of mattress types available for purchase. However, most of the mattresses being sold are not completely non-toxic.

When choosing a non-toxic mattress, you should look for an all-natural latex mattress. Some mattress companies try to be sneaky, and claim that a mattress is a natural latex mattress when, in fact, it only contains some natural latex. Because petroleum is harvested from the earth, companies try to pass it off as a “natural” substance.

Ensure that your natural latex mattress is 100 percent all-natural latex, and not blended with any petroleum-based polyurethane foam. Those mattresses are not to be considered non-toxic or safe.

Pure Natural Latex

Natural latex is the best, safest mattress material you can buy. Natural latex is chemical-free, and all 100 percent pure natural latex mattresses are non-toxic mattresses.

Unlike memory foam mattresses or synthetic latex mattresses,  natural latex is derived organically from the sap of rubber trees. The materials used to create natural latex mattresses are healthy, sustainable, and good for the environment.

When shopping for a natural latex mattress, look for third-party certifications that indicate how safe and healthy a mattress is. A GOLS-certified organic latex mattress has been tested and deemed non-toxic and safe for human use.

Organic Cotton

Typically, natural latex mattresses have organic cotton covers for added comfort and breathability. If a mattress is made of certified organic latex by the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), the cotton will likely be certified organic cotton. GOTS-certified organic cotton is safe, chemical-free, and non-toxic.

Organic Wool

As mentioned above, organic wool is a safe and non-toxic flame retardant used in all-natural latex mattresses. GOTS-certified organic wool is often used on the safest mattresses, so consumers know that each textile is chemical-free, and safe for human use. New Zealand organic wool is known for its high standard of quality.

What to Look for in a Non-Toxic Mattress

As mentioned above, any mattress company can call themselves eco-friendly or non-toxic without backing up their claims. As a discerning consumer, you need to know what to look for when shopping for the safest mattress, so that you know you are getting the best item for yourself and your family.

Materials

When looking for a non-toxic mattress, you want only the best and safest materials. These include organic latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. Do not be fooled by mattress companies that make claims without backing them up, however.

Organic and Natural Mattress Certifications

These mattress material certifications will guide you towards the safest and healthiest non-toxic mattress options on the market. Non-toxic mattress brands will have several certifications that indicate how pure and chemical-free their products are.

OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100

The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label is one of the most well-known certifications in the world of non-toxic mattress brands. This certification ensures that every component of an article (in this case, a mattress) has been found harmless for human health.

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)

For non-toxic mattress brands to be certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the brand has to meet strict criteria. Every aspect of the GOTS-certified cotton and GOTS-certified wool must be ecologically and socially responsible and sustainable from when it is harvested to when it is processed and manufactured, and how workers are treated during the process. Products with the GOTS-certified organic label must contain at least 95 percent certified organic fibers.

GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard)

Similar to GOTS-certified cotton and GOTS-certified wool, Global Organic Latex Standard-certified latex recognizes products that are made from organically-grown natural rubber latex. Every material in the mattress must be approved to meet this standard.

GreenGuard Gold

Greenguard Gold-certified items meet rigorous chemical emissions standards. These non-toxic mattresses must contain a limited number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and be safe for human use.

CertiPUR-US

The not-for-profit CertiPUR-US certification is given to non-toxic mattress brands that create foams without harmful chemicals and hazardous materials. To be CertiPUR-US certified, a mattress foam must have no formaldehyde, no phthalates, no ozone depleters, no heavy metals, no toxic flame retardants, and low VOC emissions.

Safest Mattress Accessories

If you are looking for the safest mattress, you should pair it with the safest mattress accessories. You might not realize that mattress accessories like bedding, pillows, and mattress toppers can also contain harmful substances.

When choosing your mattress accessories, look for organic and all-natural options to pair with your all-natural, non-toxic latex mattress.

Non-Toxic Bedding

Organic cotton bedding is comfortable, breathable, and environmentally friendly. It is also safe and non-toxic, so you can sleep well at night, knowing you are well taken care of.

Bamboo bedding is another great choice because it is highly renewable. Bamboo grows quickly and easily. It is comfortable to sleep on, and does not contain pesticides.

Look for certifications like Global Organic Textile Standard and OEKO-TEX when choosing safe, non-toxic bedding.

Organic Pillows

The Latex For Less pillow is available in either shredded or solid all-natural latex, so you can get a good night’s sleep knowing you are resting your head on a non-toxic, comfortable sleep surface. Just like natural latex mattresses, the natural latex pillow is naturally hypoallergenic.

Shredded latex provides a fluffier experience, similar to down. Solid latex is more supportive and buoyant. Both are breathable, comfortable, and organic.

Mattress Toppers

The Latex For Less Mattress toppers are also naturally hypoallergenic. With two height options and three comfort levels, you can choose a 100 percent natural latex topper that will provide extra comfort and support for a good night’s sleep.

As with Latex For Less’s other products, the mattress topper is certified by third parties, and contains no harmful chemicals.

FAQ About Mattress Safety

If you still have questions about the safest mattresses available for purchase today, read on. Below are some of the most common questions regarding safe, non-toxic mattresses. See if your questions can be found in the frequently asked questions below.

Why Are Natural Mattresses More Expensive?

Natural latex mattresses are often more expensive than synthetic mattresses because the organic materials take more time and energy to harvest and put together. Additionally, they last a very long time, up to 20 years or more.

Latex For Less has made it the company’s mission to handcraft affordable latex mattresses that are available on a budget.

Are All Latex Mattresses the Same?

No. Not all latex mattresses are the same. Many mattresses being sold on the market are not 100 percent pure natural latex mattresses. There are several mattress manufacturers that sell latex blended mattresses. These mattresses might contain synthetic latex or other synthetic materials, and will not have the same benefits as an all-natural latex mattress.

How Are Latex Mattresses Made?

Rubber tree sap is first harvested from the Amazonian rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). Harvesters whip the harvested tree sap into a frothy foam, and pour it into mattress molds, which are then baked. Depending on the pouring and baking process, you will get either a natural Dunlop or natural Talalay latex mattress.

How Can You Be Sure Your Mattress Is Safe?

The best way to choose the safest mattress for you is to go with an all-natural 100 percent latex mattress that has multiple high-value third-party certifications. Avoid synthetic latex mattresses. Only choose latex mattresses that are pure latex with organic cotton and organic wool layers for comfort and flame resistance.

Additionally, read reviews. Look for eco-friendly websites that do not have ulterior motives. Check out third-party certification websites, and see what they recommend. You will find that organic latex is the safest mattress for you and your family.

What is Greenwashing and How Can You Avoid It?

Greenwashing is when a company markets its products as being environmentally-friendly without actually putting in the effort of making their products environmentally-friendly. With more and more people concerned with the planet and going green, some companies want to capitalize on that without working toward a better future.

To avoid falling prey to companies’ greenwashing, shop with a scrutinizing eye. Do not take claims at face value. Instead, do your own research to ensure that any claims a company makes are backed up by actual third-party certifications and data. Do not fall for fluffy, flowery language when there is nothing to support it.

Latex For Less Commitment to Your Safety and Our Planet’s Health

Latex For Less spent 10 years researching, testing, and refining the perfect mattress that is not only comfortable, but also totally safe for customers and the environment. Latex For Less partners with Sri Lankan farmers at the source, who harvest rubber tree sap to make our latex mattresses. That means no markups and no additives when  buying directly from the manufacturer.

With a  100% natural Latex For Less mattress, you can get a good night’s sleep knowing that you are sleeping on a sustainably harvested, handcrafted mattress that will not cause you, your family, or your planet harm. Additionally,  award-winning Latex For Less mattresses are designed to be affordable, so more can benefit from having the safest mattress available.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.