Are There Chemicals in Mattresses?
So are memory foam mattresses toxic? Are chemicals and VOC’s found in mattresses safe?
Essentia make foam, so we’re privy to a lot of what goes into foam mattress. The good, the bad and the ugly.
All foams, natural or synthetic, have chemical contents. That's just the reality of foam.
You want to reduce the amount of VOC’s you're exposed to. We test our products for VOC's because of this.
Fire retardants in mattresses, couches and pajamas explains Senator Durbain.
VOC's (volatile organic compounds) can now be found in nearly all common household products; from carpets to microwaves, paints, couches... including mattresses according to the EPA.
With chemicals and pesticides now being found in umbilical cord blood, chemicals are becoming a concern for many...and rightly so.
Are mattresses safe? Really safe? Safe for Kids, Adults...Dogs?
List of Chemicals in Mattresses
To our knowledge, as foamers and manufacturers, these are the ingredients used to make the components listed below. Ingredients may vary for glues, memory foams, natural and synthetic latex foams.
One of the columns below lists the ingredients used to make natural latex foams. Latex International confirmed using these ingredients as well. Our list indicates what's present in the actual formulation which offers complete transparency. It does not confirm what comes out of the mattress in terms of VOC's. If you're interested in learning about our VOCs, see our actual test analysis.
|Asbestos Fluorinated polymers||•|
|Beryllium and Compounds||•|
|Cellulose nitrate plastic polymers||•|
|Chromium and compounds||•|
|Cobalt and compounds||•|
|Dioxins and furans||•|
|Emulsion of Hevea brasiliensis milk in water||•|
|Haologenated idphenyl ethers||•|
|Hevea brasiliensis milk||•||•|
|Methyl benzene (toluene)||•||•|
|Thallium and compounds||•|
|Waxes styrene-butadiene copolymer||•||•||•|
Diphenyl diisocyanate is an ingredient used in the production of natural latex foam and polyurathane foams. It allows components of a formula to blend together properly. Our formula is a water based solution. Diphenyl diisocyanate polymerizes in the presence of water. It has traditionally been used for the production of latex foam, some european urethane manufacturers have blended this component with Toluene diisocyanate in the attempt of reducing toluene content.
Phenol-melamine resins are used in the production of natural latex foam; this component is what creates the flexible properties to the foam. This component has more value in conventional latex, while a zero gravity pressure relieving foam requires less flexibility.
Waxes styrene-butadiene copolymer is used to add resistance and longevity to natural foams. This component has excellent abrasion resistance when properly blended. This component is most commonly used in blends of natural latex. This component is considered a thickening agent and gelling agent and contains vegetal based waxes.
About the Application of Glues in Standard Mattresses
Mattress manufacturers use glues to bond the inner layers of mattresses together as well as to bond the fabric cover to the core.
Adhesives can be rolled to bond each layer or can be diluted in water and sprayed over each surface to be bonded. This second application method allows manufacturers to call their glue a "water based adhesive".
A water based adhesive is a simple process whereby water is mixed in with a solvent based adhesive to facilitate spraying the glue over each mattress surface. When the glue dries, all water molecules in the adhesive evaporate and only the adhesive which emit VOCs is left behind.
The long-term health effects that may occur after prolonged exposure to Volatile Organic Content (VOC) found in Adhesive/Glue solvents include cancers, damage to the heart, liver, central nervous system and kidneys.
Find out more about the GREENGUARD certified glues we use.
Components used for the production of polyurethane memory foams
Components researched: isocynates; methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane; acetone; benzene; ethylene oxide; formaldehyde.
Biological Monitoring - Is memory foam safe?
Clinical evaluations conducted by Duke University; Source ATSDR - Public health advisory Public Health Implications: The exact amount of TDI required to cause adverse health effects is unknown. People have become sensitized after being exposed to as little as 20 parts per billion (ppb). After sensitization there is no amount of TDI that one may be exposed to safely. Studies have shown that in sensitized individuals, asthmatic attacks can occur after exposed to TDI air concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb.
Testing Results: Of 113 participants tested, 10 participant (9%) developed antibodies.
Perfumes and Deodorizers
Certain imported polyurethane memory foam products have industrial perfumes to mask the chemical odour that exists in their products.
Chemicals Found in Air Fresheners:
- Tributyltin maleate (carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity etc)
- Bonded quatermary ammonium chloride compounds
- Phenolics (wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenol)
- Paradichlorobenzene (anticipated to be a carcinogen)
For articles written about chemicals in mattresses visit:
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- Water based Adhesives Technology Review
- Aerias - Air Quality Sciences
- Tinnerberg H, Dalene M, Scarping G, Air and biological monitoring of toluene diisocyanate in a flexible foam plant. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 58:229-235 (1997)
- Bernstein JA. Overview of diisocyanate occupational asthma. Toxicoligy 111:181-189 (1996)
- Wegman D, Pagnatto L, Fine L, Peters J, A dose - responsive relationship in TDI workers. J Occup Med 16:258-260 (1974)
- Bauer X, Merek W, Ammon J, Czuppon A, Marczynski B, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Roemmelt H, Fruhmann G. Respiratory and other hazards of isocynates. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 66:141:152 (1994)
- California Environmental Protection Agency. Determination of Formaldehyde and Toluene Diisocyanate Emissions from Indoor Residential Sources. Contract no. 93-315 Columbus, OH:Battelle, 1996.
- ACGIH. Documentation of the Threshold limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices, 5th ed.
Cincinati, OH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, 1986.