For most people when asked where they feel safest, their bed will probably be one of the first places that comes to mind. Unfortunately, due to the chemicals and toxins that are commonly found in synthetic made mattresses this may not necessarily be true. Given this information and considering we spend around one-third of our lives sleeping in a bed, it is in our best interest to invest in a non toxic mattress.
Why are toxic mattresses harmful?
Almost all mass-produced mattresses that are made from synthetic materials contain a long list of harmful toxins. There are three main safety threats to consider when shopping for a mattress, the foam used, the adhesives used, and the chemicals used to treat the mattress to be flameproof, waterproof or antimicrobial.
- Petrochemicals (composed from crude oil and natural gas) are commonly found in mattresses, usually in polyurethane foam, since many mattresses are made with petroleum as the base. Polyurethane foam releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air which have proven to be harmful to our health. When absorbed through our skin, petrochemicals can accumulate in our tissues and organs. This puts us at risk for nerve, liver, and brain damage. The accumulation of petrochemicals can also cause birth defects, hormonal disorders, and cancer.
- Carcinogens are often found in non-organic mattresses and are dangerous to human health because they’ve been known to cause cancer in living tissues. Most commonly, formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is widely used as an adhesive within the mattress. Additionally, synthetic latex, which is traditionally made from Styrene-Butadiene rubber, is also a carcinogen and interestingly, it has lower durability in comparison to mattresses which are made from different materials.
- Phthalates like DBP and BBP can be found in many mattresses and are used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics more flexible and durable. Phthalates are an endocrine disrupting chemical, and have been linked to cancer and developmental disorders. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is commonly used to coat polyester fabrics; which is what most conventional mattresses are covered with. These fabrics are particularly harmful to have on your mattress because the contact of skin touching them triggers phthalates to release into the air.
- Flame Retardants specifically organohalogen flame retardants (OFR) are commonly found in mattresses. Exposure to these flame retardants have proven to cause issues from fertility problems to cancer. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), found that mattresses made with flame retardants expose adults to the absorption of .802 mg of Antimony daily. Exposure to antimony has been proven to cause lung, stomach, and heart related issues in adults. A mattress made with flame retardant chemicals exposes the average adult to the daily absorption of .081 mg of Boric Acid (used to kill roaches) as well as .073 mg of DBDPO. When humans and animals are faced with long-term exposure to boric acid it can cause kidney damage, while being exposed to DBDPO frequently and in large amounts can cause liver damage. It can also eventually weaken the human nervous system.
- Pesticide residue has been found on mattresses made with traditional cotton batting as it often doesn't wash out during the processing phase and is widely considered a known carcinogen.
What makes non-toxic mattresses different?
When searching for a non toxic mattress, look for the following:
- GOTS certified organic cotton, which is important for the internal batting and external fabric on the mattress (also the layer that comes into contact with your skin). This certifies that the cotton is at least 95% organic. It also certifies no added flame retardants.
- GOL certified natural latex, guarantees it is at least 95% natural latex, and is the cleanest alternative to conventional foams. Wool, used as the fire proofing method, while more expensive, is significantly healthier than chemical treatments.
- Verify your mattress is not processed with any chemicals like flame retardants, PFAS chemicals for waterproofing, or formaldehyde.
Top 5 Best Non-Toxic Mattresses
1. Avocado Green Mattress
Photo by: Avocado Green Mattress
An Avocado Green Mattress is the holy grail of mattresses with the most transparency into their brand and the most amount of non-toxic certifications to hold them accountable to their claims. It is truly one of the best options on the market for a nontoxic mattress. They are handcrafted, and the brand practices ethical and sustainable production in California. Their factories are run by renewable energy and many of their materials such as their organic latex is made on their farm. Avocado Green Mattresses are 100% certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The brand is a Certified B Corporation, as well as Fair Trade, RWS (Responsible Wool Standard), GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard), Greenguard, and Climate Neutral certified. The company donates 1% of all proceeds to the global nonprofit 1% For the Planet. The staple Avocado Green Mattress is the brand's most popular product and is rated number one on their website. You have the option of getting it in a Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, and California King. The wide range of sizes of this mattress means that there is something for everyone. There is no glue used in the seaming of this mattress; it is all hand tufted. The mattress is 100% Organic Certified Hybrid as well. If you are looking for a reliably safe mattress the Avocado Green Mattress is your best option.
Photo by: EcoSleep
Purchasing an EcoSleep mattress will be both a beneficial purchase for yourself and for our environment. EcoSleep is FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council). Through EcoSleep’s certification, the brand works to conserve the environment from waterways to forests. In addition, EcoSleep has gained recognition from The RainForest Alliance. EcoSleep makes it a priority that the conditions in which their workers work are safe. EcoSleep mattresses are made from an organic latex that comes straight from a rubber tree. The organic latex is processed by renewable resources using biodegradable materials. Made in Arizona, the EcoSleep Hybrid mattress is a versatile option. It is a flippable mattress and designed so that you can flip between either a firm or medium side, providing support and relief for your muscles. The EcoSleep Hybrid comes in Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, and Split Cal King.
3. Eco Terra
Photo by: Eco Terra
Eco Terra mattresses are made from safe materials such as all-natural latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. The handcrafted organic mattresses are made from Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified wool and GOTS organic certified cotton. An Eco Terra mattress is free from chemicals commonly found in mattresses like VOCs, polyurethane, and flame retardants. Eco Terra mattresses have something for everyone as they come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King. They also make a 100% Natural Latex Topper, which is Oeko-Tex Standard 100, GOTS Certified, as well as certified by the Eco-Institut. All Eco Terra mattresses and the 100% Natural Latex Topper are designed and made in California. The brand grows its own rubber on a plantation in Sri Lanka, a country in South Asia. The rubber is shipped directly to Eco Terra’s factory in California from Sri Lanka meaning there is no middle man. As a result, this reduces the carbon footprint of the mattress you are purchasing. Not only is an Eco Terra mattress healthier for you, but it also is for our planet.
Photo by: Awara
An Awara mattress is made from all organic materials such as organic cotton, organic wool, and Dunlop latex. Dunlop latex is made from real rubber trees and is Rainforest-Alliance certified. Their latex foam is free from PBDE, lead, mercury, formaldehyde, and flame retardants. Awara uses an all-natural water adhesive on their mattresses which is a great alternative to what is traditionally a chemical adhesive. Awara mattresses are UL GREENGUARD Gold, Repreve, Wools of New Zealand, Forest Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance, and The Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX certified. An Awara Natural Hybrid Mattress makes sustainable, eco-friendly mattresses accessible. Upon purchasing a mattress from Awara the company plants 10 trees through Trees for the Future or trees.org. This organization educates farmers on how to sustainably revitalize their farmland. Farmers knowing how to revitalize their farmland not only results in a healthier planet but also to the development of growing economies.
Photo by: Naturepedic
Naturepedic mattresses are some of the safest mattresses being produced. They contain no harmful chemicals and are certified non-toxic. The brand's mattresses have been certified by MADE SAFE that none of its materials can cause harm to humans. It has also been certified by GREENGUARD for low chemical emissions and is formaldehyde free. Naturepedic is a continuous advocate for chemical safety in our products. The brand has been recognized for its efforts by 1% For the Planet, Women’s Voices for The Earth, Toxic-Free Future, Cancer Free Economy, Organic Consumers Association, Clean Production Action, and many more.
Mattresses and the way they are manufactured needs to evolve with the times we live in. Flame retardant mattresses made sense some fifty plus years ago when a large majority of Americans smoked cigarettes. The Surgeon General’s report of 1964 found that 42% of Americans smoked compared to a 12.5% in 2020. The habit of smoking in bed was one of the driving forces in recommending flame retardant mattresses. Today this practice is not common, education has changed how individuals live. Mattresses were made to protect us in the past. In doing so they began to hurt us in other ways with carcinogens. With nearly one third of your life spent laying on a mattress, it is well worth the investment to ensure you are sleeping on one that is chemical free.