Saturday, January 30, 2010

Avoiding toxic chemicals in mattresses & bedding

Conventional mattresses, made with petroleum-based polyurethane foam, have routinely been treated with brominated fire retardants including polybrominated biphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, while conventional bedding is covered with fabric treatments that may be contaminated with formaldehyde. Water- and stain-resistant Teflon- and Scotchgard-type coatings are manufactured using toxic perfluorinated chemicals that are widespread in the environment and our bodies.

To avoid these chemicals, you can choose a mattress made with a natural latex core padded with cotton and surrounded with wool, which is naturally water-repellant and flame retardant. Look for labels that say it meets the CPSC and State of California fire retardancy standards for mattresses. To benefit your personal health, it need not be made with organic cotton or wool, which are more of a benefit to the environment; and, non-organic mattresses--and especially futons--are more affordable. Since crib mattresses are so much smaller, organic versions are less pricey.

If you don’t want to pop for a new green mattress, you can block a lot of VOCs—and allergenic dust mites—in your old one by encasing it in a tightly woven barrier cloth, or covering it with a wool or cotton mattress pad. Mattress pads are not advised for cribs, which shouldn’t contain any padding, but can be given extra protection with a flat wool “puddle pad.” For extra adult luxury, choose a topper with a natural latex core.

Below is a list of companies who make greener bedding, mattresses and top pads without PBDEs* or PVC**. Where noted, they also are good sources for untreated sheets, comforters, pillowcases, and bedcovers. (the $ indicates most affordability):

Acorn Innerspring from The Natural Bed Store $ (organic cotton, wool)
Duxiana: Their breathable latex-and-cotton top pad is dreamy.
Earthsake (organic cotton and PureGrow wool); comforters, bed linens, pillows.
Greensleep (organic cotton, wool and silk)
Lifekind (organic cotton, natural latex); comforters, pillows, sheets, blankets, duvet covers
Magniflex memory foam with some greener options (bamboo, wool, latex)
Natural by Colgate crib mattresses(coconut coir fiber, organic cotton, regular cotton)
Naturepedic $ (organic cotton, regular cotton, polyethylene)
The Futon Shop wool mattresses and toppers
The Organic Mattress bedding, mattress toppers (organic cotton, natural latex, also toppers and bedding)
Room and Board lightweight down duvets(natural latex, no springs)
Shepherds Dream wool comforters (wool)
Vivetique (organic cotton, hemp, and PureGrow wool) bedding all-season wool comforter encased in unbleached cotton, softest touch.
Gaiam kapok-filled organic cotton comforter; kapok is the fluffy white fiber in the seed pod of the Asian ceiba tree and is harvested sustainably without cutting the tree. organic cotton covered and filled comforters cat=Double%2FQueen+Comforters+and+Covers

*Shown to cause behavioral and developmental problems in animal studies, PBDEs are pervasive in the environment, found in women’s breast milk and the fat of harbor seals, and easily migrate out of products into house dust and air. Environmental health advocates call PBDEs “ the new PCBs,” referring to the now-banned industrial chemicals that caused lower I.Q.s in the children of women who ate PCB-contaminated fish. See Washington Toxics Coalition's excellent summary of possible health risks,.

**Although PVC was banned from being used in crib and children’s mattresses in late 2009, it may still be present in mattresses made before that time, and new mattresses, as well as bedding, may be treated with water- and stain-repellants that can release formaldehyde, another toxic and volatile chemical that readily evaporates from products.


Usha said...

Thanks for your very informative posts. I'm in the market for a barrier cloth for my mattress. Any suggestions regarding what kind of barrier cloth I should be looking for, retailers that carry them etc..? Any info you can provide will be gratefully received - thanks!

GreenFemme said...

Hi Usha,
Great and very timely question!
A good barrier cloth should be tightly woven to block allergenic dust mites and their, ick, droppings, but breathable and washable for your comfort. Natural, untreated, organic fabrics are most breathable and nontoxic. See my new blog for products.

Also, for general good green bedding retailers, Plse take a look at the stores in this list on a more recent blog.


Annie Robertson said...

Using organic cotton prevents insecticides and pesticides from being sprayed in the air which saves our atmosphere.
Organic Towels

thuya said...

Because of price, I am interested in the IKEA green mattress. Do you have personal experience with them, or do you know if they are manufactured differently than their other furniture?
We bought an IKEA couch thinking IKEA is a green company and we couldn't use it because it was outgassing so much. (I am very chemically sensitive) I have been sitting on the floor for the past 18 months waiting for the fumes to subside.
I really need a bed that I can sleep on without getting sick. Please advise, thanks!

Abdul said...

Mattress protectors - A wonderful collection of baby bedding for cots and cot beds, wall borders stickers murals wallpapers and wall art, childrens duvet covers and curtains for boys and girls dream bed rooms.

moaid said...

Thanks for the sharing of such information we will pass it on to our readers.
This is a great reading.

dancilhoney said...

When my mother moved into an assisted living home, she had trouble sleeping.
After I gave her Cal King Sheets and pillow covers she slept like a baby.

Mrs. A said...

Has anyone looked into the Naturally Bob's product line? It seems to be too good to be true at $699 for a an entry level queen set. I read another post that showed a reply from Bobs and they said the it was 3.4" of latex over a 8" of HR foam. I just emailed them to ask what the HR foam is made of.

Roy Thomsitt said...

It seems to be a never ending battle these days in avoiding toxins, whether it's bedding, food, air, water or just about anything. When it comes to bedding though I do prefer down comforter sets. A problem is though that everyone in the family may have different sensivities, and could react to even totally natural down. With bedding of course you are breathing it in all night!

mccrackencarver said...

For those in the Portland Oregon area there is also Cotton Cloud futons. They make 100% cotton, organic cotton ,wool and bio-derived latex mattresses(no man made latex). Also they maker there own pillows and duvets.

Anushka said...

I've been wanting to change out our mattresses & bedding for safer options. Do you know if the flame retardant requirement extends only to mattress, couches & chairs and electronics and are other bedding items like comforters, quilts & sheets & pillows exempt from this requirement?

Keith Woodard said...

This is an interesting topic. You've done a very informative blog and I know you gave your very best to construct this informative and educative article. I've enjoyed reading it. Keep up the good work. Thanks again.

Sleepys Mattress Co

Cozy Earth said...

Thank you for this. I think it's important for people.Organic Bamboo Comforters

Tina M. said...

This is off the topic of bedding, but I'm wondering if anyone knows where I can find an affordable couch that has not been treated with flame retardants. I've been able to locate a couple high-end companies (EcoSelect Furniture, RCGreen), but they are far from affordable for us. I'm also wondering if anyone knows if there is a slipcover barrier that exists that may prevent some of the toxic dust from escaping from a sofa?



Tina M. said...

This is off the topic of bedding, but I'm wondering if anyone knows where I can find an affordable couch that has not been treated with flame retardants. I've been able to locate a couple high-end companies (EcoSelect Furniture, RCGreen), but they are far from affordable for us. I'm also wondering if anyone knows if there is a slipcover barrier that exists that may prevent some of the toxic dust from escaping from a sofa?



Dan Pohl said...

Thanks for the info. It very much helped to find a good organic mattresses. I decided to go for the Natural latex mattress...
It's a great lightweight and soft mattress.. I’m going to be on the market for a new bed soon, so definitely have your post bookmarked.
stearns & foster mattresses

Maya James said...

Very Informative blog hope it helps my Hawaiian Comforters in my Home.thanks for sharing.

Albert hock said...

Hi dear,
Really a great and mostly useful topic.As far as my concern Materials with a High Support factor such as Natural Latex can be softer without sacrificing support.Support factor alone isn’t enough to ensure a comfortable Dunlop mattress as it must also be properly constructed and expertly fitted to be assured it fits individuals needs.Thanks
Foam mattress pads

Mike Larry said...

Mattresses are very important in one's life. We spend almost 6 to 8 hours while sleeping on the mattresses and if, the mattresses upon which we are sleeping are not according to the body type and have toxic material, it can cause several physical and mental health problems. The blog shares very good information regarding the same. To know more about right kind of mattresses, visit us.

merlen hogg said...

Hi GreenFemme,
I loved reading this piece! Well written!

Merlen Hogg
Tormod Helleland

spencer shawn said...

I have been looking for luxury organic bedding. My daughter pretty much is allergic to everything. I need to find her the perfect kind.

bryan flake said...

Will I tear the wool apart from the comforter if I wash it in the machine? Do I go get it dry cleaned? What does that cost?