The decision has finally been made, a new mattress is definitely in order – as your bed has had one too many nights of sleep and is slowly losing its comfortability. However, the daunting thought of buying a new mattress is almost worse than dealing with the mattress that you already have in your bedroom. There are so many different kinds of mattresses, anywhere from memory foam, gel, latex, air beds, and even water beds for consumers to select from. This broad array of mattresses makes the decision for consumers even harder – and as more and more information about the toxicity of certain mattresses is disclosed to the public, the more informed buyers need to be before going ahead and purchasing a mattress.
Many mattresses, depending on the material that is used to construct this bedding, has been found to contain a mix of different chemicals within its composition including flame retardants and VOCs. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical compounds that are commonly found in adhesives and glues that have been used in the construction of manufactured items including some mattresses, and these compounds will turn into a gas when entering room temperatures. These gaseous VOCs will ultimately lead to the emission of odors into the home through a process called off-gassing, that can lead to both an impact on indoor air quality as well as effect human health upon exposure.
In this article, we are going to discuss the different types of mattresses and learn what chemicals can be found in these mattress materials that will affect both indoor air quality and human health adversely.
How Long Does a Mattress Last & Selecting a New Mattress
A mattress is built to be a durable household item, giving the mattress a long-life that will last for quite a while from the initial purchase date. The durability of a mattress is simply due to the material that is used to construct this bedding – typically foam and other materials will provide the lifespan of this essential bedding material. The overall life of the mattress will depend on both the material of the mattress and the amount of weight that has been supported on this mattress overtime.
A general rule of thumb for the life of a mattress is typically between 7 to 10 years. However, it is possible that a mattress can last for far longer than this span of time and upwards to 15 years in some cases. Latex mattresses are among the most superior type of mattress that will provide you with the longest mattress life, saving you both time and money on looking for and buying a mattress.
Types of Mattresses Pros and Cons
If you have come to the decision that you need to bite the bullet and purchase a new mattress, it will be important to understand the different types of mattresses available and what are the pros/cons of this mattress material type. The top selections for mattress types for purchase includes innerspring, memory foam, gel, latex, and polyfoam. What are the benefits and cons of each of these mattress materials – and what type of mattress is the best choice for your home?
- Innerspring: The most common type of mattress sold, according to consumer reports, innerspring mattresses have been the top choice as of recently with the new addition of memory foam and adjustable mattresses to the market. This type of mattress has been around since the early 1900s is constructed of steel coils that compress when pressure is applied on the mattress. Overall, this mattress material is both an affordable and durable option when buying a mattress.
- Gel: Gel mattresses is a mattress that is infused into a foam mattress and works as a natural cooler inside this material. The gel will take on the temperature of the material around it, but it will take a long time to do that.
- Latex: A natural selection when it comes to mattress materials, latex is a byproduct of sap from a rubber tree. This material is very similar to that of memory foam due to its ability to offer pressure relief and contouring to the body. Latex contains more bounce, compared to memory foam, therefore you won’t sink into the material like you would on memory foam.
- Polyfoam: When it comes to foams used in the mattress market, polyfoam is one of the most popular. Polyfoam is a synthetic and petroleum-based material that contains a wide variety of chemicals within its composition that makes this material dangerous.
- Memory Foam: Memory foam is a widely used material that is found in a variety of applications including mattresses, pillows, blankets, furniture, shoes, and wheelchair seats. Eventually the memory foam was implemented into mattresses and is one of the most widely used mattress types now purchased today. However, there has recently been information collected on the hidden dangers within this mattress material that can both effect human health and the indoor air quality of the home in which this mattress is placed into.
Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe?
The safety of memory foam mattresses can vary depending on where and when you purchased the mattress. Traditionally, most memory foams are produced with a high level of chemicals embedded into the material from the various processes the material goes through before reaching consumers. These memory foam materials that contain vast amounts of chemicals will often times produce an odor into the environment that is produced from the off-gassing of these chemical VOCs from the memory foam mattress.
In memory foam mattresses, chemicals are generally used to construct the foam and adhesives that are used in the manufacturing of the mattress. These chemicals used in memory foam can include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), formaldehyde, benzene, methylene chloride, toluene, and other hazardous chemicals. Also, many memory foam mattresses contain flame retardants in their composition that act as a barrier of protection from fires to stop them from spreading onto mattresses. Although this is a beneficial protective layer for your mattress, it can be severely harmful to human health.
What is Memory Foam Made Of
Memory foam is a high density viscoelastic polyurethane foam that contains added compounds to alter the material to conform to mattress material. This material is often denser and more expensive than generic polyurethane foam but still contains some of the same hazardous chemicals such as VOCs, that can impact the indoor air quality in the environment. Memory foam is constructed of a few main components, and one of these components is the polyurethane that is made by mixing hydrocarbons that are commonly found in petroleum with water. Along with the polyurethane, additional chemicals are than added to the polyurethane to help form the memory foam material.
The manufacturing process of the memory foam is an extensive method that takes nearly 8 hours to construct. The components used in this process include water, polypols, isocyanates, and other reactive substances.
Memory Foam Health Risks
When you purchase a new mattress that arrives in your home for the first time, it can begin the chemical off-gassing process in the air of your home that will lead to potential adverse effects on the health of those exposed to these airborne chemicals. Health risks and effects can be shown in a number of different symptoms that an individual will experience quickly after exposure. Symptoms that an individual may experience after chemical exposure from memory foam can include the following symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Frequent nausea
- Lack of attention
- And respiratory issues
Health risks posed from memory foam can vary based on the amount of chemical exposure, the airflow in the environment, and the health of an individual prior to memory foam chemical exposure. Typically, people who have a weaker immune system or that have any diseases or conditions will be among the first to experience health symptoms and these symptoms could be progressively exacerbated more than other individuals in this compromised indoor environment.
Memory Foam Allergy
If you are a person that suffers from extreme allergies, the decision to purchase a memory foam mattress is one that could help to reduce the allergy symptoms and triggers that traditional coil mattresses harbor within their material. Coil mattresses can collect dust and dust mites that are known allergy triggers that will spike allergy-symptoms in those individuals who experience allergies. Therefore, the decision to transition from a coil mattress that traps dust to a memory foam mattress is typically an easy-decision for allergy sufferers.
However, memory foam can still contain the same allergy-risks as coil mattresses, due to the toxins that are found in the memory foam. The toxins found in memory foam may lead to allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, breathing problems, skin problems, dizziness, fatigue, and a sore throat.
How to Speed Up Mattress Off Gassing
The toxins and chemicals that are used in the manufacturing of memory foam mattresses are a major threat to both the indoor air quality inside of your home, as well as the heath of those occupants in the home that are exposed to the new mattress smell produced from your new memory foam mattress. New mattress chemical off-gassing is a process that occurs almost immediately when the mattress enters into a home and becomes acclimated to the room temperature in the indoor environment. These chemical VOCs that are found within the material of the memory foam mattress will turn into a gas when it regulates to room temperature in an indoor environment, which will begin the off-gassing process from the mattress in the home.
The process of off-gassing can last for an undetermined amount of time, this length of time can vary depending on the amount of chemicals found in the mattress, the amount of ventilation in the indoor space, and the temperature present in the air of the environment. Typically, however, mattress off-gassing will occur within the first week of owning a new mattress and can last for days or even weeks after its introduction into the environment.
After off gassing commences inside of a home from a new mattress, homeowners that are experiencing adverse health reactions to this chemical emission in the air will look for solutions on how to speed up off gassing of their mattress within their home. It has been recommended that ventilating a room consistently, allowing fresh air into the home will help to flush out the chemical contaminants that are off gassed into the air and replace it with fresh, clean air. This method of allowing outdoor air into the home will help, but the easiest, most effective solution to implement into a home where off-gassing is occurring is the use of an air purifier to remove the gaseous chemicals from the air.
The EnviroKlenz Air Purifier is an effective solution to removing VOCs and other airborne pollutants from the air both safely and effectively. EnviroKlenz utilizes a proprietary earth mineral technology that is designed to remove and neutralize chemical odors, VOCs, and other hazardous pollutants from the air without the use of masking agents or chemicals to eliminate these compounds from the air. Along with the patented EnviroKlenz technology, the EnviroKlenz Air Purifier also contains a hospital-grade HEPA filter that captures and removes fine particulate matter larger than 0.3 microns in size including allergens from the air.
In this chamber study, a volatile organic compound was released in an environmental chamber under ambient conditions. The IQAir® was the air system that was able to remove the chemical the quickest, but since the system uses carbon media, the chemical has the potential to be released back into the atmosphere with an increase in temperature or changes to humidity and pressure. In some of chamber evaluations, we have seen carbon systems start to desorb VOCs as the temperature rises towards only 80 degrees. The EnviroKlenz® Air System out-performed the BlueAir® and Molekule® systems, while also offering more than just physical absorption. The EnviroKlenz® Air Cartridge works through a combination of physical and chemical mechanisms.
Mobile Air System
✓ Patented earth mineral technology works to attack VOCs and break them down on a compound level
✓ No chemicals or masking agents
✓ Will not release any chemicals back into your environment
✓ Safer and faster at removing VOC’s than traditional carbon filters and PECO air purifiers