What You Probably Don’t Know About Memory Foam Mattresses

My husband and I have been talking pretty heavily about a new mattress. Our current mattress was given to us by a family member about a year ago. Who knows how long it was used before we got it? My hips hurt, my back hurts and it takes me hours to fall asleep. We had contemplated memory foam or latex. But me being me, I questioned whether or not this type of mattress would fit our family’s lifestyle decisions.

My family and I started moving towards a healthier, more eco-friendly lifestyle almost three years ago. We went vegetarian. We went preservative free. Then we moved to chemical free cleaning and started using natural soaps and detergents. Every day we move a little closer. We take it in baby steps. You have to really or you get overwhelmed.

One of the easiest ways to change your lifestyle is to question big purchases, like mattresses, furniture and household upgrade items. It’s amazing to find out what is contained in things that you never thought twice about. What I found out about memory foam mattresses shocked me!

According to the site owner of qMattresses.com, a mattress review site that has mattress reviews on the top brands of mattresses, “natural foam is an outright oxymoron.” Wow! Seriously, wow! You see natural memory foam advertised all of the time.

So now it is abundantly clear that all memory foam mattresses contain chemicals. But what’s worse is that memory foam mattresses that are not natural foam are chocked full of chemicals that can cause serious health issues, particularly for those with allergies or asthma. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed. I had really hoped that a memory foam mattress would be a good choice for us. But then I kept on reading. There is a small loophole.

Some memory foam mattress brands, like Spring Air (manufacturers of the Sleep Sense BioMax Mattress Series) opt for special mattress certifications. In Sleep Sense BioMax’s case, it is the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and the Certi-PUR certification. These certifications tell us that certain chemicals have not been used in the construction of a memory foam mattress. Keep in mind, these are third-party, unbiased testing companies – that’s a little different than the company making claims.

The Oeko-Tex 100 certification tells us that the mattress is free of formaldehyde and pesticides. (Yes, they use these chemicals in memory foam mattresses; apparently to prevent bed bugs and dust mites.) Another 98 chemicals are tested for in the Oeko-Tex 100 certification process. In some cases, the chemical needs to be completely absent but for others, the chemical must fall below a predetermined amount. One example would be benzopyrene, which is used in all mattresses, not just memory foam.

The Certi-PUR certification tests for flame retardants or PBDEs. These chemicals were banned by the EPA in 1995 but they are still found in products today. Recently, there has been a lot of fuss over these chemicals being found in car seat covers, children’s pajamas and even popular breastfeeding pillows. This testing ensures that the harmful chemical is not used during the construction of the mattress. It also tests for lead, mercury and other heavy metals – all of which have been found to be harmful to our health.

Will we buy a memory foam mattress like Spring Air’s Sleep Sense BioMax? I’m still not sure. The jury is still out, so to speak. I plan to investigate further into what type of resources are used to make the mattress as well as the amount of energy is used during its construction compared to other types of mattresses. I know it is probably unlikely that I will find the mattress that is all natural and completely eco-friendly but I will continue my conquest until I find something that at least minimizes these important issues.

FTC Disclosure: Cathy Givans has a business relationship with the site owner of qMattresses.com but opinions and views in this article are her own.


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