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Healthy Mattress Options

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Your health is important to you. We get it. 

No one wants to suffer a heart attack, stroke, cancer or dementia. 

So most people focus on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle including exercise and sound sleep. 

But the duration of sleep is only one component. Your sleep environment is critical. 

And when it comes to sleep environments, the first point of focus is the mattress. 

You spend ⅓ of your life on the mattress, so you need to make sure it is a healthy one. 

Let’s talk about the typical mattress problems then discuss the best mattress for you. 

Toxic Mattresses

The following represents chemicals found in just about every mattress. Mind you, manufacturers are not required to disclose components of their products. 

Petroleum-based chemicals: Polyurethane foam, the type used in many mattresses and other household upholstery, is derived from petroleum. Conventional polyurethane foam can off-gas—the term for what happens when volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, escape from the foam into the air. Off-gassing is responsible for that unpleasant “new mattress” smell and can also cause irritation in people with chemical sensitivities or respiratory conditions like asthma. The most common petrochemicals are ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, and xylene.

Chemical fire retardants: In 2007, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued new federal guidelines to ensure that mattresses are able to withstand the required 30 minutes of exposure to an open flame. Mattress companies often use chemical treatments to meet these standards.

Not all chemicals used as flame retardants are a cause for concern, but there are a few that are: halogenated flame retardants (a.k.a. organohalogen flame retardants), which contain chlorine or bromine bonded to carbon, and organophosphorous flame retardants, which contain phosphorus bonded to carbon. In a peer-reviewed research paper, the Green Science Policy Institute found that these chemicals tend to build up in the body and are associated with endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity, and negative effects on child development.

Unfortunately, as the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) notes, manufacturers are not required to disclose what chemical flame retardants they use. Mattresses made in the United States are subject to strict safety regulations that prohibit the use of harmful or toxic chemicals in the production process (why we recommend Avocado). Foams of unknown origin may not be subject to the same health and safety standards.

PBDEs: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are another class of chemical flame retardants—but they’ve been banned in the United States since 2005. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PBDEs have been linked to thyroid disruption and neuro-developmental toxicity in rats and mice. The EPA also notes that traces of PBDEs have been found in human tissue, blood, and breast milk.

How to avoid mattress chemicals

If you’re concerned about mattress chemicals, choosing a mattress with organic components (or, if your budget permits, a fully organic mattress) is the surest way to avoid them. In addition to lowering your exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals, organic ingredients also have fewer allergens. Here’s what to look for:

Wool: Wool is often used as a natural flame retardant. It’s also antibacterial and antimicrobial, resistant to dust mites, and hypoallergenic. Not only is wool better for the environment and your health than chemical fire barriers, but it’s also gentler on your skin.

Organic cotton: Like wool, organic cotton is also hypoallergenic. Plus, organic cotton is grown without the use of chemical insecticides or synthetic fertilizers, so it doesn’t contaminate water systems with chemical runoff. Organic cotton is typically used for mattress covers since it’s soft and breathable, making it ideal for temperature control.

Natural latex: Latex is a natural material, made from the sap of the rubber tree. Natural latex is hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and does not off-gas. It is also naturally dust mite resistant AND naturally fire-resistant. Not all latex is natural, however. There is such a thing as a synthetic latex mattress, and this type of mattress is made from petroleum-based ingredients.

What We Recommend

There are many companies going the organic route. But for the money, the quality and the company integrity, we recommend Avocado. 

Avocado has a few different options and products. 

We recommend the model WITHOUT metal springs. Metal conducts electricity and in this electrified world, it is best to sleep without metal. 

Take a look at Avocado mattress here. Don’t forget to get organic pillows, bedding and other products at Avocado. 

You and your family will be glad you did. 

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