Commonly Used Toxic Materials in Matresses

As an intern working with Your Guide to Green, I’ve discovered some shocking information about the mattress you sleep on every night. Did you know that there are tons of chemicals used to create your mattress? Did you also know that these chemical could be detrimental to your health? Personally, I was unaware of the toxic dangers of my mattress. I never thought anything of it. However, after becoming aware of the problem, I believe that everyone should know of the dangers their chemical filled mattress. Now, you may be wondering, “What do you mean my mattress is filled with chemicals?” “Why wouldn’t there be more warnings about mattresses if they were actually dangerous?” To these I have to say, yes, your mattress has many different harmful chemicals residing in it, and you don’t know about it because the mattress companies don’t want you to know about it. I’m here to tell you what mattress companies don’t want you to know.

Commonly used toxic materials in mattresses


The foam itself, both memory foam and polyurethane foam, is petroleum-based. That means it’s made of tons of toxic chemicals. It also means that it will break down over time and, as it’s breaking out, it off-gasses volatile organic compounds.
  • The volatile organic compounds off gassed from foam can irritate the eye, nose, and throat. It cause headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea. It can also cause damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
  • Toluene, a neurotoxin that off gasses from foam, is the same gas associated with the smell that comes from paint thinners.

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic Latex is also made with two petroleum-based substances called styrene and butadiene. Both of these substance off-gas toxic chemicals that can cause damage to your body.
  • Shown to cause headaches, fatigue, weakness, and depression
  • Increases risk of leukemia and lymphoma

Chemical Flame Retardants

Since mattresses are made with petroleum-based materials, they are extremely flammable. In order for mattress companies to combat this, they drench the mattress in flame retardants. These chemicals are know to cause life-long health problems.
  • Has been proven to delay puberty, delay reproductive development & cause neuro-behavioral changes
  • Found to harm brain and nerve function

Why You Need to Wrap Your Mattress

Mattress wraps & mattress covers were brought to market after the success of wrapping was demonstrated on babies’ mattresses for well over a decade. The proof is overwhelming that wrapping a baby’s mattress is the #1 crib-death prevention technique according to physicians and scientists conducting decades-long studies. Mattress wraps & mattress covers also are produced for children’s and adult mattresses, to help those who suffer from asthma, chemical sensitivities, allergies to dust mites and protect from bed bug bites. “We sleep for 6 to 10 hours per day. That means we are face down in all the chemicals emitted by our pillows and mattresses. “My first recommendation is to purchase an organic mattress and pillows. However, if that is not possible, wrap all nonorganic mattresses in a mattress wraps or mattress covers,” states Greg Peterson, Green Guru and owner of YourGuideToGreen.com where these wraps are now sold. Lendon H. Smith, MD, with Joseph G. Hattersley, MA., authors of The Infant Survival Guide: Protecting Your Baby from the Dangers of Crib Death, Vaccines and Other Environmental Hazards explain the Toxic Gas Theory in a nutshell:
Before World War II, unexplained infant deaths were unusual. But after 1950, the governments of nearly all the rich industrialized countries required treatment of baby and child mattresses with flame retardant chemicals. Phosphorus and antimony were most commonly used; arsenic was sometimes added later as a preservative. American crib deaths (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – SIDS) ballooned 400-fold.
Death results from the generation of poisonous gases from the chemicals. Common, ordinarily harmless household fungi and certain microorganisms consume the phosphorus, arsenic and antimony, added as fire retardants and plastic softeners. In consuming the chemicals, the fungi emit the heavier-than-air neurotoxic gases that are said to be about one thousand times more poisonous than carbon monoxide. Gas generation starts when a mattress, containing both the chemicals and the fungi, is warmed to body temperature. Over time with the buildup of perspiration and other body fluids and body heat enable the fungi to grow and generate gas rapidly. Breathed for an extended time, even in minute quantity, these nearly odorless gases can interrupt the transfer of nervous impulses from the brain to the heart and lungs and shut down the central nervous system; heart function and breathing then stop. Scientists and physicians also make the connection that while not fatal, older children and adults who complain of headaches, asthma and allergies are likely experiencing reactions to these off-gassing chemicals. The solution is wrapping your mattress with one of our mattress wraps. When replacing a conventional mattress is not an option, our mattress wraps are an affordable solution for off-gas prevention from mattresses. Our Mattress Wraps are made of 6 mil food grade polyethylene sheeting that slips over mattresses like a pillowcase that is available in one size fits all new improved sizing that will fit mattresses up to 15″ thick. Our Mattress Wraps feature a polyethylene sheeting thickness needed to prevent gases from permeating/off gassing so that any gases coming from your mattress will be kept from your environment and skin. The mattress wrap also acts as a dust mite and bed bug barrier for allergy prone family.