Memory Foam Mattresses: Are They Safe?
Are the chemicals in your life freaking you out or have you found yourself wondering if products like memory foam mattresses are safe? If you’ve been looking into this type of mattress or any other, you may be wondering whether chemicals and odors could represent a real danger.
The concern is definitely a valid one, as we spend nearly one-third of our lives in bed on a mattress. Not to mention, all too often some new material or product is seemingly trying to kill us.
From flame retardants to foaming agents, the ingredients used on some memory foam beds can certainly raise some eyebrows. Many websites discuss toxins and other potential problems created by synthetic chemicals which has brought the issue to the forefront.
Knowledge is power, right? In this article, we will look at memory foam ingredients, research, consumer information and product comparisons to assess memory foam safety. Some mattresses are safer than others and after reading this you’ll know how to tell the difference.
30 Second SummaryAmerisleep is one of the only memory foam mattress companies that uses plant-based materials. It also has the fewest reports of odor complaints in its reviews. As of this writing, they have a nice 100-night sleep trial for you if you don’t like it, so easy to try. We encourage readers to let us know how it went in the comments.
A Look Inside Memory Foam Mattresses
So, what are these things made of? Memory foam beds all have two core components: a polyurethane memory foam layer and a polyurethane foam core layer. These layers are wrapped in some type of fabric, and all mattresses must also have flameproofing of some sort to meet federal safety laws.
Some brands may include other materials as well such as gel or gel-infused foam, latex foam, or padding from polyester, wool or cotton. Most people are fairly familiar with these types of materials. The components people are usually concerned about are the memory foam itself and fire-proofing chemicals, which we will take a closer look at below.
Want to know which mattress brand is safest? Click here to find out!
Memory Foam & Polyurethane Foam Components
- Polyols – the binder/bulk ingredient. Usually composed of petroleum oil-derived ingredients, but may also include botanical sources like soy or castor beans.
- Diisocyanates – the reactive ingredient. Reacts with the polyols and blowing agent to produce a flexible polyurethane foam. The most commonly used sources are MDI and TDI, which alone in raw forms can cause respiratory and dermal sensitization and may be carcinogenic. MDI is regarded as the safer and less toxic option, and is known to be the least hazardous organic isocyanate. The primary hazard with these compounds is during manufacturing; after reacting they are inert but can offgas.
- Blowing Agents – introduces carbon to create the foam. Used to use CFCs, though today manufacturers may use water, HFC or other agents.
Looking for a new mattress? Read our best mattress guide
Possible Ingredients/Byproducts of Concern
Which ingredients are causing all the trouble? There are some other chemicals that can be in memory foam, however the ingredients used in a specific brand’s memory foam are considered trade secret and are not required to be released. Often, pinpointing the components is impossible.
The good thing is that US laws and voluntary restrictions have phased out most of the more concerning chemicals that could be present in memory foam, though these would not necessarily apply to imports.
Here are chemicals that can be or have been found in memory foam and potential issues. Note that each manufacturer uses their own “recipe”, so these do not apply to all lines.
- Methylene dianiline / MDA – suspected carcinogen, eye and skin irritant, liver and thyroid damage with ingestion. Household products produce very low levels, greatest risk is during manufacturing.
- Vinilideine chloride – eye and respiratory irritation, possible carcinogen, organ damage. Primary hazard is during manufacturing.
- Methyl benzene – inhalation can affect nervous system.
- Dimethylformamide – organ damage possible, and possible carcinogen, though primary risk is during manufacturing.
- Acetone – toxic when inhaled in large amounts, but limited effects with low exposure.
- Methylene chloride – a solvent, mucous membrane irritant and potential carcinogen. Use has declined in recent years due to EU restrictions and pollution regulations.
- Formaldehyde – typically not added to foams, but may result as a byproduct of chemical reactions or adhesives.
Rarely Used or Banned:
- 1,1,1,2 Tetrachoroethane – a possible carcinogen and cause of organ damage with long-term exposure, but rarely used in the US.
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – used as a blowing agent to make the material foam. Pollution regulations (the Montreal Protocol) have largely restricted this and other toxic halogens in the US since the 1990s. Manufacturers can use other gases or pressurized foaming systems instead.
Sometimes products designed to protect us from one type of harm can have other ill effects. Fire barriers in some mattresses are such products. Though fire retardant, some contain toxic chemicals.
All mattresses sold in the United States must be able to withstand an open flame for a set period of time, per federal guidelines. This measure is designed to reduce mattress fires and improve consumer safety. But not all fire retardant materials are safe for humans to be around.
Because polyurethane foams are typically flammable, all must be treated with a chemical or a fire-resistant material. However, manufacturers are not required to disclose how they achieve fire resistance, so it may be not be easy to get this information from less transparent companies. Some of the chemicals used can be toxic.
- Brominated fire retardants/Polybrominated diphenyl ethers/PBDEs – refers to a group of substances that can be used to resist flames. The variations confirmed to be carcinogenic have been phased out in the US since 2005.
- Cotton treated with boric acid – possible organ toxicity.
- Chlorinated tris (TDCPP) – Possible neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. Common flame retardant, but was recently the reason for a large crib mattress lawsuit in California.
- Wool – natural wool is a possible fire retardant, though usually not used in memory foam beds.
- Modacrylic fiber – contains antimony oxide, a carcinogen.
- Melamine resin – contains formaldehyde.
- Decabromodiphenyl Oxide – hair loss, neurological effects, possible carcinogen.
- Kevlar – strong fibers, not natural but non-toxic.
- Fiberglass – not toxic but can irritate the body if exposed, hence why some prefer a mattress without fiberglass.
- Alessandra fabric – wrapped fiberglass fibers, can be safe but may contain modacrylic fiber.
- Rayon treated with silica – non toxic, rayon is derived from bamboo pulp and silica from glass/sand.
The alarming toxicity of these chemicals in the fire barriers and other materials has prompted some new thinking on flame retardants.
“Instead of adding new fire retardant chemicals that ultimately may be shown to cause health problems, we should be asking whether we need to use these chemicals or if there are other ways to achieve equivalent fire safety, so many of the chemicals we have banned in the past were flame retardants—think about asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated biphenyls, tris(2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate, PBDEs—[and] they all ended up in the environment and in people. We need to think carefully about adding these sorts of chemicals to consumer products before there is adequate health information,” says Arlene Blum, a biophysical chemist and visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
What are the risks of VOCs and Off-Gassing?
The most hyped danger surrounding mattresses made of memory foam remains “VOCs” and “off-gassing”. The two terms refer to the same phenomenon of chemicals breaking down and dispersing into the air, which some have attributed to allergic reactions, breathing issues and toxin buildup. Memory foam and all polyurethane-containing and otherwise manufactured products can have a “new” odor, usually most noticeable the first few weeks
The term VOCs is short for volatile organic compounds. VOCs are called such because they are unstable and break down or degrade at room temperature, releasing odors as they do. You are already familiar with VOCs and their odors if you have ever smelled fresh paint, new cars, new furniture, some new clothes, and hundreds of other household and industrial products.
Low-level VOCs are difficult for researchers to study and assess due to their ubiquity and the time frame that would be required to assess effects (it is also impossible to isolate VOCs and their potential effects from every other item we encounter). Alone, their impact ranges from safe to toxic according to MSDS. Several are no more significant than an odor, and even humans and plants release types of VOCs as a part of biological processes.
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However, some sources (some of which can be in memory foam like toluene, benzene and formaldehyde) have been associated with respiratory irritation, throat irritation, forgetfulness, feeling dizzy or developing a headache, and repeated exposure can lead to sensitization or allergic reactions (this is typically associated with workplace exposure however, according to the EPA).
Almost always, VOC hazards are higher in the raw materials used to create stable products like foams than in the finished product itself. As with memory foam, once the chemical components are combined into a stabilized product, the VOC release is minimized. Unreacted polymers and other components like glues and fire retardants can pose lingering odors and strong scents as well, though.
Read more: How to use online mattress reviews
How Do You Know if You’ll Be Affected?
Out of the many consumers who have bought memory foam beds, a very small portion seem to experience allergic-type reactions. There are some reports online of people experiencing nose, throat or eye irritation, asthma irritation, or nausea which they attribute to mattress odors. These reviews are in the minority compared to the thousands who have owned memory foam without incident over the past 25 years. According to Sleep Like The Dead’s research, odors cause less than 2% of people overall to return these mattresses.
Although different brands can vary on odor, beware if a company is pitching you “no VOC or VOC free” memory foam, as that is not a plausible product given how memory foam is made. A memory foam can be “low VOC” or “free of toxic VOCs”, but as we’ve mentioned before, almost every organic product has odorous properties that are “VOCs”.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission recently sued and fined a few companies making the VOC-free claim that could not back it up including Essentia, Relief-Mart/Temp-Flow, and Ecobaby Organics.
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The polyurethane used in memory foam beds is the same foam used in most household furniture (like sofas, recliners, and other items with foam). Almost all innerspring mattresses also have layers of polyurethane, and similar fire-barrier materials as well. If you experience an issue with other polyurethane containing items (like spring mattresses) or have reactions to odors from paint or new furniture, you may experience an issue with high-VOC memory foam as well.
If this is a concern for you, we recommend looking into natural latex mattresses that have no polyurethane foam. However, if you have no prior issues with sensitivity, then memory foam should not pose any major discomfort or health threat to you.
Choosing a Safe Memory Foam Mattress
As we previously explained, studying the effects or risks of potential VOC exposure from memory foam is a difficult task, so there is little specific research, and none showing that memory foam is toxic or unsafe. The Polyurethane Foam Association, an industry group, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency both say that finished memory foam is inert and does not represent a health hazard. According to the EPA’s review of MDI and TDI, “Completely cured products are fully reacted and therefore are considered to be inert and non-toxic.”
A 2011 study from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) concluded, “We did not find a scientific connection between respiratory problems and exposure to TDI.” The American Chemistry Council also says that “Many polyurethane products are completely cured and therefore considered “inert” before they are sold, such as mattresses, pillows, furniture cushions, […].”
Once the polyols and isocyanates have reacted, they are chemically inert (no longer volatile) and no longer pose the dangers that individual components may. Polyurethane manufacturers in the United States are carefully regulated regarding ingredients and pollution, and the US and EU have banned the most hazardous chemicals and additives in the past 10 years. Residual concerns for choosing a safe bed of memory foam would include off-gassing odors and chemicals in adhesives and fire-proofing methods.
In order to choose a mattress with memory foam, here are few things you could check for when shopping around:
- Find out if a the foam is plant-based or made from petroleum. Plant-based foams have fewer synthetic materials in them and emit fewer VOCs.
- Ask if the foam was made with MDI or TDI, as MDI is known to be safer.
- Ask what kind of blowing agents are used; halogen gases CFCs/HFCs contribute to air pollution. Variable pressure foaming is a newer technique that negates the need for chemical blowing agents.
- See what the memory foam is made of. Blends that have a portion made with plant-based materials (20%+) have less petroleum content and thus less propensity to off-gas.
- See also what the cover fabric is. If you’re seeking a hypoallergenic mattress, remember that the cover fabric is what your body is most likely to come in contact with, so you’ll want to make sure it won’t irritate your skin.
- Ask how the mattress achieves anti-flammability standards. Rayon-treated silica and kevlar fabrics (not just seams) appear to be the safest options for reducing chemicals.
- See if there are any testing standards applicable to the mattress. OEKO-TEX and CertiPUR-US® require a minimum level of VOCs and product safety.
- Know that high-density foams have a greater amount of polymers, and thus are more likely to have stronger odors.
- Ask where the actual memory foam and poly-foam layers are manufactured. If it is in the US or EU, they are made under stricter regulations than some imported foams and could be a safer option.
While ideally manufacturers would be open about product ingredients, due to tough competition and trade standards many brands may not disclose the information, and many salespeople may be uninformed. You can research online or contact companies directly if salespeople are unsure or don’t offer satisfactory answers.
The other way you can check on the safety of a mattress is to read some of the best mattress reviews online and check the consumer product safety commission records. If a high percentage of reviewers mention strong odors or side effects, then the mattress may have a higher proportion of VOC content. If they just mention a light non-bothersome smell or no smell, then the VOC content is likely lower. Keep in mind that smell is highly subjective, however, if a very large number of people report physical effects like sinus irritation than you may want to steer clear if this is a concern for you.
Are Memory Foam Mattress in a Boxes Safe?
While memory foam mattress in a boxes differ from traditional beds in their method of delivery, they hold all of the same characteristics of any standard memory foam mattress you’d find in a store. Shopping directly with an online brand often puts you at an advantage too, as they often disclose all relevant information about their beds and post it on their website. This makes it easy to determine if their beds are up to your standards.
Whereas in a store, you’re often left asking all of those detailed questions, as sales associates usually don’t offer up negative information about a bed while attempting to sell it.
As always, read the description of each mattress material to ensure no harmful substances are lurking in your bed. And if you have questions, ask them! Many websites have a Live Chat feature allowing you to send a message directly to the brand for a prompt reply.
You will also likely see advice to not sleep on a memory foam mattress before 24 hours have passed after unboxing it. However, this is not for safety reasons or quality concerns about damaging the mattress by sleeping on it too soon. The simple fact is that a mattress is not fully comfortable until it’s fully expanded.
Minimizing Memory Foam Mattress Odors
To minimize any potential odors or discomfort, you can also follow a few guidelines after buying a memory foam bed. The best way to reduce odors is to unpack the mattress and remove all plastics as soon as you receive it. If you cannot air out your bedroom very well and the mattress has a strong smell, you may wish to set it in a garage or arable room for a few days with plenty of circulating air and ventilation. If the mattress cover is removable, take it off or unzip it to allow the foam to breathe. Don’t move the mattress into your bedroom until the odor has dissipated enough to no longer bother you.
Memory foam remains the highest-rated mattress category overall in terms of owner satisfaction due to advantages like the ability to contour to sleepers, pressure point relief and support for natural alignment. Although concerns about household chemicals and toxic ingredients are valid, when it comes to today’s mattresses, they are largely unsubstantiated. There is no research available that says memory foam is unsafe, and authorities like the EPA and ACC concur that finished polyurethane foam is non-toxic.
As a consumer, you can protect yourself and read reviews to select a safe, healthier memory foam mattress by understanding the basic science behind memory foam, knowing what questions to ask retailers, and by knowing what ingredients (and claims) to avoid. Your bedroom needs to be a safe place, so keep an eye on what you put in it.
Comments (146) Leave a reply
Hi are memory foam mattresses safe for pregnancy? Do they cause any harm to a fetus?
Thanks for reaching out! While memory foam mattresses are made with a handful of different chemicals, those chemicals only pose a health risk in their raw form (meaning they’re safe for all sleepers in their finished form). We suggest looking for eco-friendly memory foam mattresses made with plant-based foam, as they’re made with fewer chemicals, but any memory foam mattress with a CertiPUR-US® certification is safe to use. If you have any hesitations with a certain brand, reach out to them directly to talk through your concerns. They should be able to provide you with all the information you need to make a purchase.
We hope this helps!
I am having health issues also. I suspect it is from my Nectar mattress. I have had it for about 18 months. I have lost 30 lbs. from being nauseated for almost 18 months. I stopped sleeping on it about 6 weeks ago just started feeling better. I still have a funny taste in my mouth and my tongue has a kind of burning sensation.
I have just gotten a Nectar mattress and it’s terrible. I have started with muscle cramps all over my entire body and keep experiencing a chemical taste in my mouth from the beginning of the week; the smell is awful, I’ve had it bare with the windows wide open all day and it hardly does anything to minimise the smell. I am experiencing neurological type symptoms and I absolutely think the mattresses are dangerous. I’ve had a Simba mattress however and that was certainly better than the one I currently have, it didn’t smell this terrible. I’ve actually asked for a refund, but I’ve been ignored at the moment. I’ve had to see my doctor recently and have some standard blood tests because the symptoms I’m experiencing are very worrying.
Hi, I am looking at the Brentwood Oceano mattress. What are your thoughts about the below – not ideal that the foam topper is polyurethane based, but do the other safety items mitigate the toxicity?
The foam topper is polyurethane based and is CertiPUR-US Certified and has been tested to meet CertiPUR-US rigorous standards for emissions, content, performance, and durability. Specifically, the foam is:
✓ Made without ozone depleters✓ Made without PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (”Tris”) flame retardants✓ Made without mercury, lead, and other heavy metals✓ Made without formaldehyde✓ Made without phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission✓ Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million)
All of our mattresses are made without the use of chemical treatments. To meet federal safety requirements we use a bamboo-derived rayon fabric infused with natural silica sand (the same compound as the gemstone Opal) that prevents flames from spreading to your mattress. When exposed to flames, the hydrated silica fire barriers naturally char and self-extinguish without the use of chemicals.
Good question— petroleum is required to produce memory foam, so you won’t find any foams that are not petroleum-based, but the Brentwood Oceano Mattress has all the right certifications. The CertiPUR-US® certification ensures your mattress is safe from harmful chemicals and is low in VOCs. Plus, because they use all-natural flame retardants, you don’t have to worry about chemical-based flame retardants. Many of the best mattresses you can buy have the CertiPUR-US® certification, and it is considered the gold standard of certifications.
Thanks for the information very informative. My big question is what is the percentage plant based vs petroleum based chemicals in the matters? Where is the product being produced? Most companies will say it’s plant based but only have about 5% – 20% soy and the rest is petroleum.
Breathing issues & hair loss big time since I began sleeping on a tempurpedic.
Is this possible? Had Xrays, going to a pulmonary doctor soon. It’s the only change I made recently that I think can be causing the above.
I too have a tempurpedic mattress and have experienced the same issues. I feel like when I inhale there isnt enough room in my lungs to get all the air I need. Is this breathing issue similar to what you are experiencing? I too have been losing my hair. I never would have related it to it being my mattress but maybe we are on to something.
We are currently using 3 Zinus foam mattresses for about 4-5 years. There are a few things I am concern about.
-Even though they are CertiPUR-US, are they really considered safe?
-I have read on other comments above that body oil combined with the foam material can cause really toxic gas. How long can I use these mattresses for before it becomes hazardous?
-If I don’t remove the mattress cover, do I still need to worry about fiber glass coming out?
-The kids bunk bed uses the Zinus, will the bottom bunk have to worry about the gasses/fiber glass coming out from the top bunk Zinus?
-Are there specific mattress covers that will help with the gasses and also make sure the fiber glass doesn’t come out?
-Do I need to worry about any mattress/padding that is made of foam? How about just a spring mattress (which is not that comfortable compared to these foam ones)?
Very bad for skin in one year after sleeping using topper my skin looks like a crocodile skin and over that’s i was very cold even with a lot of heavy covers
HI and good day,
I am looking at purchasing one of several mattresses. They have off-gassing ratios of 9.4/10, 8.6/10. Is this a percentage? What is considered a high percentage; what percentage can a mattress be deemed to have low off gassing and be relatively safe.? I have asthma but not severe. My dog has respiratory problems. I don’t want to make either of us sick.
Thank you, Clare
Thanks for reading and that’s an excellent question. There is a lot of concern and a lot of literature about off-gassing in mattresses. We are not sure of these ratios but refer to Certi-PUR which has “established standards for emissions and content for foam products, including an upper limit on total VOCs of 0.5 parts per million (ppm)”, which is why we recommend buying a mattress that has Certi-PUR certified foams. Also, keep in mind, VOCs have been shown to decrease in a mattress over time.
Hope this helps!
I was almost killed by one of these mattresses. Still have severe sinus problems a year after trashing it! How the author of this article minimizes this very real risk is absolutely atrocious! Just completely disgusted with this very slanted, “get you to buy dangerous crap anyway” greedy jerks!!!!
We are so sorry to hear about your experience. When it comes to memory foam being safe, we want/need to see certain things, such as CertiPUR-US certification, along with Green Guard Fire Sock (a big plus) and OEKO-TEX certification is a big plus for the upholstery or accompanying sheets. Memory foam is simply foam made to have viscoelastic properties. How the foam made is very important, which is why it’s great that there are third-party certification problems that work to check the quality foam and a rise, as we have seen, in transparency from companies.
The consumer knows more about what is in their mattresses than ever before and that’s helpful.
Thanks for the feedback!
has anyone here had any problems with the cariloha bamboo mattress? my mom and i just bought two of them together and now im worried after reading this
I bought a foam mattress a while ago and my daughter has taken the cover off to wash it from time to time. I took it off to wash it today and the actual foam mattress is wrapped in a thin sown cover that sheds hair type like crazy but it feels like fiber glass when directly on the skin. Is that possible?
What is the brand you bought?
Yes, it is fiberglass.
Is a mermory foam mattress topper safe with a pacemaker defibrillator and does it has an oder.
Thanks for the question. Memory foam mattresses CAN have an odor, but we have found that buying a memory foam mattress from a recognizable brand that makes its memory foam in the United States greatly reduces that risk. Most main brands of memory foam mattresses do not come with any odor risks.
Concerning the pacemaker, we have never read or heard anything that has implied that a memory foam mattress would be unsafe with a pacemaker. However, always take any actual medical advice from a medical professional, who can speak more definitively on such matters.
Hope this helps!
Wow! I must say that you have done a thorough research on mattresses. I too have one memory foam mattress which I bought online recently from a website but I knew very little about it. Now I have enough information. Thanks a lot for sharing it!
After ten years on a tempurpedic bed, i developed a severe allergy to polyurethane tdi foam used in tbe bed. For four months and counting i have landed myslef in urgent cares, allergist, dermatologist, primary doctor for giant hives, chemical burns, swollen lips that looked like bothed botox, swolen eye, swollen body. It was horrible. I slept with an epi pen bc at times i thought my throat would close up. Now due to rhe off gassing and break down over the years i cant touch a llong laudry list of products bc it sets me off…. Shrink wrap for one. Steriods and many many fast acting injections and pills, creams and all…. Now after reading all the material online through my search while pinpointing this odd allergy, i wonder if in past years my migraines and allergies at its worse were a product of this.
We went with a natural dulop latex with organic cotton and wool bed from avocado.
Hell I need help for the same thing I’ve been standing in the shower for days trying to get the yellow stuff out of my skin it’s everywhere
Five months ago, I bought a memory foam topper for my bed. When I opened it, I aired it out as recommended. About one month later, I began to breakout in big hives. Then got migraines continuously for two weeks. Ended up in Er, Urgent Care and primary doctor. Tests revealed everything normal except unexplained inflammation in my body. My eyes were swelling shut, my lips looked like botched botox and the hives were diagnosed to be “inflammation hives” by the ER doc. I take a lot of allergy meds to try to relieve the itching but the hives keep coming. I did some research early today and found these reviews. So I threw my mattress topper outside and bleach/washed all my linens and I’m airing out the regular mattress.
Glad to find these reviews. Before these ails, I’d never really been ill a day in my life.
Same exact symptoms here!! So glad I hopefully solved the mystery of the weird allergic reactions I’ve been having!
Did everything you did stop the swelling and hives?
Did you contact Tempurpedic? If so, what did they say?
I have and they refunded me the full amount on the bed purchased 10 years ago. I additionally submitted time off work costs and medical costs associated with this. It’s been months and their response is always, we have that department reviewing. I am now talking to lawyers as I hoped this would be resolved with the company directly. I assume that refunding the bed is one thing, falling under customer service, but that paying out additional admits fault. My sinuses for both my husband and I are 100% better now that the bed is gone. However, the exposure to the foam has left possibly now with a life long hypersenstivity and allergy to it. I have severe reactions now to the material and carry an epi pen and get monthly injections in hopes to curve the severity. My entire life now revolves around this and I am in constant pain from it when it flares up if I come in contact with the material (which is in a lot of things).
I need to find out who I can talk to you because I bought a memory foam mattress from Walmart I have five kids I took the cover off to wash the mattress Cover and now I have it all over my house all of my children’s beds and or clothing it’s everywhere and all my children are all breaking out if you could recommend someone I’m in the Kansas area please help
I am in the same situation as you. Got one from Walmart. Took the cover off to wash, Which it stated on the tag, that it is ok to do..
Its everywhere..This stuff is awful. All over the house.. You cant get it off of clothes…It’s a nightmare.. I’m in Texas.
I immediately contacted them and submitted photos of my skin on fb. One of thier head customer service reps contacted me. They refunded the total amount of the bed purchased ten years ago and removed the bed. I additionally submitted medical bills which are still adding up and time off work. It’s been months and I only get responses that the department is reviewing the information. By refunding the bed falls under customer service but paying out additional will result in them admitting fault so I assume that is why this is taking so long. I am talking to lawyers as well at this point as I was hoping to settle this with the company and not go that route. Due to the exposure I now am hyper sensitive to polyurethane which is in alot of things. My entire life revolves around this allergy. I have severe breakouts if I come in contact with it and now have monthly injections of a medication which hopefully will help curve the severity of the reaction. Time will tell. I am continuing with back and forth emails with the rep assigned to this and am hoping to reach some sort of result. However it may be I need to contact a lawyer.
By returning the mattress you signed off that you basically will not sue for health related risks or any liability. Its a trick. They do this all the time. Basically we will give you all your money back, but you cannot ever come after us. It leaves the consumer with the question, “Do I get my 5k back that I spent on the bed, or do I go to court for a year or 2 against a multi-billion dollar mattress company and spend a ton of money and maybe not win?”
Actually I did not sign anything for the bed refund. I also have it in writing in an email with thier company that I would not be signing anything because I am concerned about my long term health. They, in writing stated I did not have to sign anything or a non disclosure that the removal of the bed and refund was for customer service.
Nothing was signed and I have it writing.
Does anyone know a safe mattress to buy? I am glad I stumbled across this page, but I haven’t seen any recommendations of brands to buy. Thanks!
After speaking with my doctor and testing beds out which landed me in the hospital due to an allergy, we went with avocado green mattress. Its 100% dunlop latex and organic cotton and wool. We are very pleased with the bed and I am not allergic to these natural materials.
I am looking into Naturepedic Organic Mattresses. We have been sleeping on a Tempur-pedic for about 10 years (well, my husband has been sleeping, I have not!). I’ve always had a feeling it was something about the foam mattress, but no concrete proof. I would be unable to stay awake in the living room with lights and TV on, so I’d think Wow I should go to bed. Then I get in bed and can’t fall asleep for hours, can’t stay asleep. We’ve been sleeping out on our deck the last 4 nights in sleeping bags and air mattresses, and I’m getting a full 8 hours of restful sleep for the first time in YEARS! I started researching about the off-gassing of the memory foam mattresses and I’m ready to try something less toxic. My research has led to my interest in the Naturepedic Organic mattresses, I’m going to go to a retailer and try them within the next week. It may just be a personal sensitivity on my part,but there seems to be other people out there who have similar issues with the Tempur-pedic. In all fairness I should add my husband sleeps just fine on the Tempur-pedic, and I do like the firmness of it, but I have a feeling the off-gassing is interrupting hormonal balance for me.
I’m going to return my memory foam mattress and buy a latex one. Dunlopillo look like a decent choice but I think any latex mattress would be fine. I’ve been sleeping on a latex mattress for the last 10+ years and got a new Sealy Posturepedic memory foam mattress when I moved into my new house this week. I let it air out for 72 hours before sleeping on it, but after the first night could still notice a terrible smell and had runny nose and allergy symptoms. After 2 nights sleeping on the mattress I had a soar throat, was getting terrible headaches, constant streaming nose and felt totally exhausted.
Having spent some time reading up on this I can’t believe they didn’t advise about this possibility in the shop. I am returning the mattress today and will be ordering a latex one instead, even if I have to sleep on the sofa for a few weeks while o wait for it to arrive, nothing could be worse than the symptoms from sleeping on that Sealy posturepedic mattress for 2 nights.
I’m allergic to cats, dogs and dust mites, and have asthma, so wpull certaInly advise anyone who is allergy prone to avoid Sealy beds in particular memory foam at all costs, and go for a latex mattress instead.
Does anyone know anything about NSC Medical? They assure me it’s Certi-pur but they are not listed as a certified Certi-pur company. There is off gassing. It’s 70% polyurethane and they assure me there is no VOC, heavy metals etc. Made in Canada as well. I just don’t trust polyurethane foam after reading reviews from so many people getting sick. Is all polyurethane foam toxic? Even if the foam is Certi-pur and from a good company? I am starting to think so? Any thoughts from some experts?
I purchased a LUCID 12 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress a month and half ago and co-slept with my 7 month old. Not realising it my 7 month olds health/growth was being affected by it. It wasn’t until over a month in that I started noticing subtle signs that something wasn’t right. Like she was slow to sit up, she always seemed weak, attempting to crawl but couldn’t master, when laid flat on back gasping for air/hyperventilating, shaking head side to side, no eye contact, stopped blowing raspberries, babbling little to none and always rubbing at face/ear every time laid on mattress. Not realising I was being affected by the mattress as well (sluggish, unfocused, trouble putting sentences together, stuttering), I was too disoriented to connect the dots. I was starting to get desperate because I was losing my baby and couldn’t figure out why. I became stressed out to the point where I couldn’t focus on anything else and then finally one night it dawned on me the only thing that had changed was the mattress. I immediately looked it up and the first thing I saw was respiratory and neurological problems. I leaped out of the bed at that very moment and moved the mattress to another room and opened the window to vent. Fortunately, I hadn’t got rid of my old mattress and put it back in my room. When we woke up that next morning my baby made real eye contact with me that I hadn’t seen for weeks. Later that day she was officially crawling as well. Now one week later she is almost back to the same little girl I remembered her to be. I have since set-up an appt with a children’s neurologist and hope and pray no permanent damage has been done like autism.
Got a Tempurpedic mattress delivered at 8am yesterday. Went to sleep on it at 11 pm. Wife was out of town on business and came home from the airport at 2am and woke me up. Immediately knew something was wrong. Felt like I had been sniffing glue. I’m dizzy, my nose and throat is irritated. That was like an hour ago. But seriously, I couldn’t drive right now, I am not right. Came on here to read about the fumes, and see how long it lasts. Moving to the guest room and going to return that mattress.
I had a severe allergic reaction when we got our Tempurpedic mattress years ago. I didn’t realize the mattress was causing it. I suffered eczema for 4 months. I’ll never buy one again. We got our children’s mattresses from mygreenmatress.com and there have been no problems.
We have a Tempur-Pedic which we purchased 2 years ago. In the past couple months I’ve been having bad headaches and sinus issues in the morning. I didn’t experience any of these problems until recently but started wondering if the mattress was the culprit causing my health issues. I assume the form starts to break down over time and now I am unable to sleep through the night without a headache. Does anyone know of any allergy bed bag that will stop the off-gassing so we don’t have to buy a replacement mattress?
On a different thought, did any of you folks get any warnings that VOCs and off-gassing were known issues with these products before you purchased your mattresses? We did NOT!
No. There needs to be a warning label!! This is all serious stuff. I woke up dizzy and throwing up over a 2 hour nap!! 3 days ago I made this purchase and hadn’t felt right since.
I purchased our Tempurpedic mattress more than 10 years ago while suffering from back problems. I had no problems until last year when I developed acute Blepharitis, first in one eye and within days both were affected. My doctor told me it was common at my age, 69, and would be chronic and suggested anti-biotics. I was so disappointed as my life-style is very healthy and natural, I actually operate a franchise of a global natural medicine and skincare brand and have lived an organic and holistic lifestyle for more than 25 years. In January this year we travelled to New Zealand for 3 weeks where we slept on a new cotton covered sprung mattress – my condition disappeared within days, despite the dry desert like conditions of Central Otago. Upon returning home I immediately suffered a recurrence of my painfully dry eyes which cause me to wake just to add drops. I am now staying in my Florida holiday home, old school firm sprung mattresses with cotton covers, dry air conditioning, my eyes were perfect after one night in the bed we have owned for 20 years! I have enjoyed a week now of normal eye health, it is undoubtedly due to the memory foam and I feel so silly for not understanding this sooner. I will be replacing the expensive mistake as soon as I return to the UK and hope that my experience can help others.
I bought a 21 Park Avenue foam mattress from the Shopping Channel, loved it, best sleep I ever had, no smell, however after about 3 months I started to experience headaches, ear aches, sore throat, stuffy nose etc, the Dr. said it was migraine headaches, however no treatments have helped so far, he asked if there was anything that I had new in the house, then I thought about the mattress, I took it out of the house for 1 month and brought in the old mattress, I felt better immediately, I brought it back in and now suffering from headaches etc. again. It must be the mattress however its made in the US and has no smell, it has to be the mattress. When the mattress was out of the house for the month my symptoms did not go away completely and now I am worried that the mattress may have given me lasting problems. Do you think it was the mattress? My doctor seems to think it is still migraines though I hardly ever had a headache in my life
I didn’t see anything about Certi-PUR certified. Is this a useless certification? We have a Lull mattress that says :
All foams used in the Lull mattress are CertiPUR-US Certified, which means that they meet rigorous standards for minimizing off-gassing. Our mattresses are made without harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, ozone depleters, heavy metals and certain flame retardants that may cause cancer and genetic defects. All foams meet the standard of less than 0.5 parts per million VOC (volatile organic compounds).
We co sleep for part of the night so I want to ensure mattress is safe. Also our babies mattress is Green Guard Gold Certified and the Certified Pur and made in USA. But I’m worried it’s not enough.
I have been having the same trouble. I bought an ALOE infused foam mattress from Overstock (Christopher Knight) about 2 years ago… headaches, muscle aches, actual skin rashes, and a full blown cellulitis of the face. I have been advised by an infectious diseases doctor (looooong story of different doctors and evaluations) to stay away from the bed for three weeks, then check to see how I am doing. This seems to be a real issue. Time to do something about it!
Did you have any luck with this? I’m experiencing a skin rash too and also trying the same experiment.
My pregnant wife and I just bought a Mlily Harmony foam mattress yesterday. I noticed the chemical smell after the delivery people set it up in our bedroom and left. No one mentioned anything to us about this off gassing thing. We let it sit for 4 hours like they said, to allow it to fully come to form, as they said, before putting the mattress protector and sheets on. I woke up with a headache and have had it all day. Got home and lied down on the bed and started to get itchy eyes. I started reading about all of this and connected the dots. I must be one of the few unlucky people who don’t react well to the material. Going to return it tomorrow and just get a traditional style mattress.
so glad you returned this, especially with a pregnant wife! Even if a mattress has offgassed and you can’t smell it as much, it can still be releasing toxins and it is where you spend 7+ hours a day right on top of so very important to be safe. Good luck and hope you found a nice latex or other mattress!
Information on post-cure outgassing and polyurethane cell breakdown / degradation suggest the outgassing never actually stops. At least one study states outgassing actually increases, as the product ages and degrades.
Better to Google with likely search strings, such as, “polyurethane foam breakdown”, “polyurethane outgassing during product use” and “polyurethane aging”. You will find variations on these search strings also will help.
Thank you so much for this information. I actually have had many symptoms mentioned. The brain fog, eye irritation & joint pain have been the worst.
Brain fog and joint pain? I have been sick for two full months, with the most horrible joint, muscle pain, head and neck pain. Brain fog caused me to over do it with insulin, can’t recall things. We got a foam mattress from a store on promotion. Off gassing bothered me, but then after airing it out, I used it. Windows have been closed due to the winter cold. If you had muscle pain, joint pain, brain fog, maybe that’s this issue.I have had four doctor appts this month, no relief. Glad I read this.What is THE BEST mattress w o allergens and chemicals I can get?
I bought a memory foam mattress off of Amazon, and also have a pillow that was a gift. I’ve felt sick on and off – flu-type symptoms, sore throat, etc. I thought it was something in the apartment. I feel better after I’ve been up for a while and leave my bedroom. Last night I felt so bad that I was just impelled to look up the problem online, and I do believe it is my mattress. WHY ARE THEY STILL SELLING THEM? I noticed complaints go back years – at least as far back as 2005. Why no class-action?
Tnk u Sleep Junkie for the information u hav provided, u have made my mind at ease. We got a Zinus 10 inch memory foam mattress as gift n of course my partner didn’t read t info provided, so we didn’t air out t mattress for 24-48hrs as advised, n he decided to throw away our old mattresses out too! So we had no choice but to sleep in a new memory foam mattress w out airing it out 1st. I mean t sleep was deep n awesome, I just keeped dreaming I was in a gas cloud, but t sleep is a very deep intense sleep. But now, I feel, we hav a bedroom full of off gassing, it’s not too bad but I’m sensitive to smells n it gives me a headache,a lil dizziness sometimes, oh n a bad taste in my mouth, like I can taste t vapors.. Would airing it out while I’m at work for 6-8hrs work w t off gassing? I can unzip t cover of t mattress underneath n let it vent, would that work? I read that our mattress is made outta green tea, my kids say they don’t smell anything but goodness n a lil tiny weir smell, specially when they jump on t bed LOLZ., my oldest son says he don’t smell anything & his sensitive to smell too.. We live a pretty busy life n have a full house, including taking care of my 80yr old father, 3 kids n 2 grandkids, (I’m 42 w G-kids yey me) 3 dogs n much more, so I really don’t have time to waist…. Plz advise?? Tnk u for ur time n this website..
Don’t ever take that outer mattress cover off your memory phoam mattress. I had a queen size spa sensation memory phoam mattress manufacturered by Zinus. The inner fire retardant cover is made of fiber glass. It has broken down overtime. Just dealt with a nightmare cleaning up the mess. Glass fiber slivers about 1 inch long all over my bedroom and clothes. Washed the outer cover per instructions on tag, and discovered I had the glass fiber slivers in my washer machine and dryer after discovering half my wardrobe was contaminated!!!!! Icing on the cake, is my insurance company denied my claim on my rental insurance. Didn’t fall under one of the covered sources of damage.
I have the same problem took the casing off to wash it because my son keeps peeing in the bed and have been itching and being stuck by the fiber glass for months now. I did not know until recently that it was fiberglass. Thank You.
It says to NEVER remove the mattress cover on my 2 Zinus mattresses. I am doubting yours said you can remove it let alone wash it.
I took these fibers in to a department store today and had a few people who work with fiberglass take a look. Both said it wasn’t that, looked more like synthetic fibers maybe polyester or a blend. Washing all our laundry and bedding now, had to toss out the foam cover and the sock to keep it from getting worse. Going to be dealing with this stuff for a while. Very upset and wish I had a warning on the label. The instructions said could be washed with warm water and air dried.
Does it have the CertiPurUs on it and is it made in the US. I would sure do more research.
I had same problem. Yes, mine claimed certi certified. They also use the fiberglass retardant. However, I got refunded and purchased a new mattress with 1 yr trial. The first 3 nights were great and then the same itching started again. Dont know if fibers from prior mattress migrated to new one or I’m simply allergic to polyurathane foam all a sudden. I dont believe theres an allergy test for foams. I was convinced it was fiberglass, but now I’m second guessing. .the first mattress was a nectar, current mattress is a tomorrow. Both cause itching. Foam, glue, or mayby it’s the gel foam.
After more than two weeks of airing the bed and even walking on it as suggested by the manufacturer, we still could not stand the smell. Luckily, we had a second bed on which to sleep in the meantime. They charged us a $300 fee to return the mattress.
What brand of mattress are you talking about?? Joseph McCoy?
Oh, they will let you return it alright. Did they mention the $300 charge to return it? I was burned once by them but never again!
Hi I purchased a best price mattress from amazon and I love it, but the ingredients say it contains glass fibers 65% it is also made in China, but it is on the certipure list. But I feel afraid now to have my children sleeping on this mattress. Any thoughts??
Throw it out. Get a mattress without glass fiber before it’s too late. Our zinus mattress is lined with 100% glass fiber. We took off the mattress cover for cleaning and the glass fibers got everywhere. All over our bodies, dog, sheets, clothing and it’s all been impossible to clean. No one answers their customer service phone line so I can’t even send them my complaint. This mattress has endangered my family and it makes me sick that such material hasn’t been banned. Death to zinus.
Me too! I just took the cover off my EcoFusion foam mattress to clean and there are fibers EVERYWHERE! I’m freaking out so hard right now. I can’t seem to get rid of these fibers and I’m afraid they are in my HVAC system because I just found fibers all over my sons pillow that hasn’t been anywhere near the cover! He sleeps in the top bunk bed right under the register. I called Ashley Furniture and was told to email a complaint with my receipt, which I did. I don’t know what to do here…are we gonna be ok healthwise???
Same situation though with a spa sensation memory phoam mattress. Don’t ever take that outer mattress cover off your memory phoam mattress. I had a queen size spa sensation memory phoam mattress manufacturered by Zinus. The inner fire retardant cover is made of fiber glass. It has broken down overtime. Just dealt with a nightmare cleaning up the mess. Glass fiber slivers about 1 inch long all over my bedroom and clothes. Washed the outer cover per instructions on tag, and discovered I had the glass fiber slivers in my washer machine and dryer after discovering half my wardrobe was contaminated!!!!! Icing on the cake, is my insurance company denied my claim on my rental insurance. Didn’t fall under one of the covered sources of damage. Only way I discovered the problem was I had purchased a memory phoam mattress for my son’s loft bed. When the box arrived a warning lable on the front of the box mentioned inner coat containing 100 % fiberglass!!!! That’s what prompted me to check my mattress. Lights off using led flashlight you see them everywhere!!! Hired a company to take mattress and all furniture in bedroom to dump. Used a wet vac to clean bedroom carpet. Wiped walls with Swiffer duster. Checked room with flashlight and all of the slivers are gone. To get it off your clothes is a tedious process. First run your washer without clothes or detergent. Then put a load in add table spoon of pine sol and tablespoon of viniger along with whatever detergent you use. Let the load soak in hot water for 30 min, then continue cycle. One done wash the load again with just detergent. You can do it a third time if need be. Then you can put it in the dryer. I added dryer sheets. Have a trash bag ready to collect lent from lent trap they will have the fiberd caught in the lent.
My foam mattress has an inner cover (made of fibreglass) and a removable, washable outer cover (made of cotton). I just washed the outer cover and discovered fibreglass everywhere in my bedroom. I think my inner cover has been shedding it for a while into my bedsheets but I never noticed until the fibreglass explosion… as I’ve noticed some clothing in my closet has traces of fibreglass.
Thanks for sharing your experience and some tips. I was wondering a few things: how did you clean the dryer? I worry the drum is part of the spreading too… and do you run an empty wash cycle before each load? Were you able to save much clothing?
I’ve been using industrial strength duct tape to spot remove the fibreglass, and lint rolling like crazy … and still find strands of the fibreglass after running an empty cycle and washing with detergent 2x in a row.
At this point, I just want to toss most of my clothing, all bedding, mattress, and even my washer/dryer and start new… I don’t want this nightmare to continue if I were to only replace clothing, bedding and mattress. I feel like my washer/dryer could be a future culprit of spreading old fibreglass to everything new.
Hi, did you proceed with your purchase? Just bought today and now reading all of this makes me want to cancel my order
I bought the most expensive Temperpedic available. After two years of nasal plugging misery, bought a $1200. Room odor charcoal based filter system, and that immediately cleared us up all night. Those things obviously don’t stop outgassing…..Gary
I put my memory foam mattress on trampoline in summer for two weeks in desert to air out. We don’t get much rain in Albuquerque. It still smelled like chemical when I finally slept on it.
I think the only way to limit the amount of toxins is to start with the place we spend so much of our time- beds and couches. For beds, I have done extensive research and finally decided on a 100% natural latex mattress. Yes it is pricier but thinking of the possible long term effects of sleeping on a mattress surrounded by chemicals, I figure it as an investment. Just make sure the mattress comes with a long warranty.
I bought a latex mattress recently and have been congested ever sense. My eyes water as well. Have you had any symptoms?
There are different types of latex beds. Many sell as latex but is only a 2 or 4 inch core with other layers of memory foam. I bought a pure natural latex foam mattress 15 years ago buying it on close out for $1000 . They are expensive. My grandkids are still using the mattress with no dents or anything. Expensive but worth it…just do research cuz salespeople only want to sell.
you are so smart, they are NOT worth sleeping on and it is shameful they are actually making mattresses like these still- just because they off gas for a while and you don’t smell the chemicals as much doesn’t mean they aren’t there, still causing harm. Best to get rid of them vs. suffer the consequences to your health which will cost you money down the road.
A memory foam mattress made my daughter terribly ill. It took us months to realize that it was the mattress causing her symptoms. Rashes, breathing problems, swollen face, numbness, joint aches, headaches and more.
Changing the sheets on it made my eyes so itchy I had to flush them with water.
I even tried a Certi-PUR and it gave me a rash.
These foams are all poisonous. Unfortunately, the damage they do is so gradual, breathing toxins in all night, that most people don’t realize their mattress is making them sick.
I had a similar reaction to a Tempurpedic pillow. I loved the contour but had to give it up. I slept on it for a while (several weeks I believe) but then I woke up with one side of my face numb 3 days in a row. I remembered my sister had an immediate reaction to her memory foam pillow so realized it might be the case with me also. I stopped using the pillow and the never had the numbness again. We have a Tempurpedic bed that we had purchased prior to the pillow. That hasn’t been a problem. We did buy the recommended mattress protector for that so maybe that’s the difference??
What scares me is that you can hardly buy a bed without memory foam now. Almost all mattresses are foam. You can buy latex but a lot of people are allergic to latex. I’m trying to decide what kind of guest bed to buy right now.
I recently bought a tempurpedic side sleeper contour pillow and am wondering if it’s irritating my eczema. so hard to tell bc we have horrible pollen in DC. But hey, if it’s this, out of my house! only thing is, it gives great neck support. have you found a clean alternative?
Thank you for your comment! I completely agree!
Interesting. I have had similar reaction but mine was to foam pillows. Thrown them out and no more swollen face, lips or eyes
Ok not sure you’ll see this since all the posts are from 2014 but I will try anyway. We have a Kluft 3 year old mattress with 88% polyurethane and 9% visco foam on top. This has been a very hot summer and very humid. The bedroom is upstairs and suddenly the smell of chemicals was so bad we could not go in the room. We looked everywhere and smelled everything we could, even on hands and knees. I kept saying it is the mattress from the heat. Finally talked my husband into putting the mattress on the balcony to see if that was what it was. The smell has slowly vanished. What made the heat make the foam smell? Is that common and is that dangerous? Did the heat permanently damage the mattress. I am afraid to bring it back in. I bought a No-Chem Bed encasement cover for off gassing that states it protects against new mattress off gassing. The instructions say “We do not assert that using it on your mattress will protect you from any gasses emitting from your mattress.” Their claims and instructions are contradicting. I am assuming this means that you won’t smell them but they are still a danger to you. I hope I get some feed back from you on what you think. Thank you
I recently bought a Serta Coolform Gel mattress. It didn’t smell, so I wasn’t expecting any trouble or anything. I bought it because I was having back/shoulder/neck problems. During the first night, my joints were ACHING. My body all over was just aching. Woke to back and kidneys hurting first morning. That probably should have clued me in, but I associated it to the pre-mattress problem. Even during the day, my arms and leg muscles keep spasming. I knew I was sensitive to formaldehyde, but wasn’t expecting this at all. My cat did not like the new mattress at all. Smart cat. One month later and it hurts to move. Going back to the store today. Thank goodness for good return policies.
I would never have believed memory foam could cause what happened to me. After 15 years of using polyurethane memory foam toppers, I recently began to experience severe flu like symptoms which included memory problems. Joint pain and weakness were also becoming very serious. Neck and shoulders hurt. Then the mild headaches started. I purchased various air purifiers because I thought it was something in the air from some other source but the purifiers only slowed the progression. The last round, I traveled abroad over a 3 week period and felt great after only a few days to a week. Returned home and was sick after only 12 hours with 8 hours of sleep. After removing other items, cleaning everything in the room, new paint to cover whatever paint was on the walls, pulled out the carpet and replaced with hardwood, removed all chemicals from the room, I finally bit the bullet and had the polyurethane topper tested. The lab found that body oils set off a reaction causing formaldehyde entrapment in the polyurethane. The foam was 15 years old and never once did I suspect it could break down to this level. I admit, this type of foam was probably made long before the new regulations but the testing agency made me aware that even new urethane’s can have isolated issues. One of the issues is when the foam is placed in contact with PVC. Some PVC’s contain plasterers that react with certain elements in direct contact. In my case, an air bed type mattress with exposed PVC glue. Second, the collected air inside the air bed mattress was charged with accumulated formaldehyde and bi-phenol so that was a secondary problem. Both urethane memory pillows were found to be breaking down from body oils even though we kept the pillows covered with 2 separation liners and washed them weekly. The lab mentioned the low level of VOC that was being emitted from the foam. This was possibly more to do with the reaction from body oils and PVC contact from the liner over many years. The lab told me to never allow sprays such as Lysol to come into contact with any type of foam. That can set off permanent reactions in some foams. Next week, I’m being tested for enzymes that are linked to this type of slow poisoning. I have ordered a new Latex Bamboo topper and will be diligent in monitoring with something called VOC and formaldehyde badges used in the construction industry. The badges will be placed between the foam and the liner. I may now be to sensitive to any off gassing so I guess we’ll see how this new topper works. My wife shows no symptoms nor has ever complained about aches and pains or flu like symptoms. My particular symptoms dropped like a stone after getting rid of the old topper. Of course now, sleep is disrupted because memory foam is just so comfortable over air beds. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that newer technology used to make memory foams will allow the comfort we once had.
Also which enzyme deficiencies are you being tested for?
Thanks for sharing your story. Can you tell me how you found a lab to test your memory foam mattress? I found the Duke University foam testing lab but they only test flame retardants.
My story is very similar to yours in that I’ve been having chronic nasal congestion for years but air-purifiers and carpet-shampooing don’t seem to help. Now I’m getting chronic fatigue and brain fog. I’ve had a memory foam mattress for about 10 yr. I cut samples of the mattress and the pillows, and the pillows definitely look like they’re breaking down since the outside is sticky and yellow but the inside is still white like the mattress.
Thanks in advance~
Have any of you come down with nasal or esophageal Cancer ?
I read of two lawsuits due to this kind of result both law firms in Calif and Tex. that I read about are no longer taking these cases.
So what happens to those people who died of the cancer from the gasses ?
How many if anyone, have come down with Cancer due to these mattresses?
Where is our so called Consumer Reports and Governmental Consumer Protection Systems ? What do these agencies do if not help protecting people from poorly manufactured Foam Mattresses. \\ What kind of bed can I find that is comfortable and has no VOC gasses or something else that will poison the sleeper????
Do you know anything about the Casper mattress?
We just bought a Magniflex memofoam and despite having read otherwise it
Smelled very Strong and one week later it still does. I also can’t tell if I’m waking congested because of the smell (window open) or coincidence. It is oekotex certified and we took a long time to decide. We have small kids who are sometimes in our bed. I don’t want there to be carcinogens in our bed. Help! Do we just go for Natural latex doesn’t feel as good but won’t cause anxiety?
It’s difficult to say. Magniflex is fairly vague about their certifications. For example, Oeko Tex might just be certifying the cover material, or latex materials, or perhaps the whole bed. They don’t specify. And, there are several levels of certification.
Natural and organic latex has a wide range of firmness and comfort options though, and does make a great choice for people seeking very clean beds. Organic cotton, organic wool, and glue-free would be things to look for. Check out our guide to organic beds if you want to know more. Among the brands that meet these requirements, Astrabeds offers the most affordable pricing.
Hope this helps!
We do have an organic and natural mattress comparison as well if you’d like to learn about these type of beds. All-organic latex foam with organic wool and cotton make excellent, well-rated beds and is among the cleanest type of bed you can get, though the cost is typically higher than memory foam.
Thanks for reading!
Should I be concerned about pillow made with 100% polyurethane – made in China?
There are some very good manufacturers in China but also very bad ones. I would see if the company uses Certipur Certified Foam. Here is a link for you to check. http://certipur.us/
Centipur is just a certification created by chemical companies. Not a reliable source.
It’s an industry backed group, but it still requires independent, third-party testing to ensure the claims of being low VOC made by sellers are true. Samples are sent to a small handful of internationally-recognized labs that specialize in impartial testing, and must be re-certified annually. The labs doing the testing are same places accredited to test for ETL, CE, Energy Star, ISO, food claims, and other programs you’ve likely seen. So, the certification is a meaningful and valid one for people looking to buy healthier foams.
I am looking at buying a fabric headboard, it is made in the US and contains polyester fill and polyurethane foam, it doesn’t specific anything else. I am not sure of the safety of this, what are your thoughts?
I would refer to the specific manufacturer of the headboard and ask the country of origin (I would be careful of foam from china) I would also ask if the foam they use is Certipur Certified. http://certipur.us/
i got a memoriefoamgel mattress on overstock I had a bad asthma attack right away it smells like mold to me I wake up every night about two with a bad headache my asthma is worse called the overstock people they gave me a75$ discount as u cannot send it back I’m on medicare can’t afford to buy a new one I’m stuck don’t buy if not at a store where u can return it B Robinson
Mine smells like mold too. I bought it at Walmart. My daughter has 3, and she says all 3 of hers smelt like mold, and then the smell went away. I wake up as well with headaches and sinus issues. If this is a manufacturer’s defect (maybe being stored in plastic to cause mold), we very well should be able to get an exchange or refund.
Ok i have bought two ikea foam mattresses with covers on them for kids bunk beds. It says model moshult. Foam is 88% polyurethane foam
12% Blended fiber batting (70% rayonn 30% polyester)
my son is 2 and having respiratory issues. Were trying to reduce environmental irrantants. My question is how safe are polyurethane foam in general? Is there better? And would wrapping it in quilts then a mattress cover help keep dangerous seapage away?
I’m wondering is bunks beds are unsafe with mattress wraps. Because the top mattress will vent out the bottom, right onto the bottom sleeper. still looking for info on this.
This is a very good question. I would recommend a memory foam bed that is certipure certified http://certipur.us/ and plant based as opposed to traditional memory foam. The type of cover will not matter.
So we’re to assume that everything that’s made in the USA is safe. But then I noticed that for stuff like BPA, it was banned in all countries many years ago except in the USA and Canada. Polypropylene oxide fumigation of almonds is common in the USA, but it had been banned in other countries long ago. Those are just two examples of american products being unsafe. Are we to still assume that all made in the USA products are safe?
Good points– manufacture in the United States is not necessarily any assurance of safety. With today’s ideological battles over regulation, congress is often unable or unwilling to reach a consensus about regulation, even where even human life, health and safety is at risk.
When an industry seeks to persuade congress it “does not need regulation”, certain congressional ideological opponents of regulation will join forces with lobbies opposed to any measure to regulate. It is a time-honored, practiced routine that has kept our congress the best money can buy.
The remedy is also fairly obvious– consumers must go on the warpath with their congressional representatives.
Hi – I am sensitive to smells and was about I buy a sealy tempurpedic 3″ topper. It’s on close out for $70.
Now I’m reconsidering.
They remain for a very long time. I was being affected 6 years later.
Remove the $#@% thing, get a natural alternative. You’ll be VERY glad that you did.
The danger is quite real – I can attest to it myself.
While some people have an immediate, noticeable reaction, others do not – their exposure is much more dangerous since it is slow, as the toxin levels build up over time.
In my case, slowly started developing symptoms of lower energy and mental cloudiness – these worsened until about 18 months later I developed a metabolic disorder, where I had become deficient in enzymes necessary for energy production. The problem was obvious to medical science, but the cause was not – the onset was so slow that I never made the connection (plus it did not affect my wife). It was not until 6 years later, when the possibility of my illness being linked to the mattress, that I made the connection and saw that the symptoms started right after purchase. Within a month of replacing the mattress I was fully healthy and symptom free.
Since this time, I have met several others locally who have also had severe issues, and many were different – seizures, rashes, and fibromyalgia type pain – but all of these were cleared up after removing a polyurethane memory foam mattress.
In short, just because you don’t have an immediate severe reaction, don’t assume that yours is safe.
There are other natural alternatives – latex or soy-based memory foam, for example. I now use the latter, and to add insult to injury, it cost me far less than the original mattress.
I wonder if you could tell me what mattress you went with, as I’m battling Lyme disease and am also highly allergic to latex. I am hypersensitive and it sounds like I should look into whatever soy plant based one you now use. Thank you!
Tina, I have the same issue as you, did you find a mattress?
I have just been diagnosed with raised enzymes in my liver and for the past year been waking up with flu symptoms and feel generally very unwell I have been of work for two weeks with really bad chest and lack of energy I have removed the topper today and will see if my symptoms improve I did not make the connection until this morning that’s why I have started to research these pages the mattress is made of visco elastic
I have been sick since July 2014, almost 2 years now. After numerous tests coming back negative for 6 months my naturopath diagnosed me with chemical exposure from working at a hair salon for 5+ years. I feel like I have a weird cold most of the time, sometimes I feel like I have the flu with body aches. I have constant sinus congestion and post nasal drip and little to no energy. Do these symptoms sound like yours? I stopped working at the hair salon 8 months ago and still I am sick and feel even worse. My symptoms are the strongest in the morning and I can feel much better in the afternoon evening and then go to bed and feel awful again and the cycle repeats. And the longer I sleep the worse I feel. Yesterday I learned about the off gassing of memory foam and took the foam topper I have had on my bed for a few years. Today I feel almost completely healthy. Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe it was the memory foam so I am waiting to see. I am writing to you to see if my experience sounds familiar to you. I have been sick for so long and very few people understand what’s happening to me. Glad you are feeling better.
I just bought a new memory foam mattresses cover and a few memory foam pillows and put them on our bed and we were asleep only 1-1/2 hours when my husband woke up with very bad pain in his eyes and short of breath . We went to the hospital where they treated him for an allergic reaction.
My husband bought a 3 inch memory foam topper for our waterbed. That was 3 years ago. He is having heart and lung problems that the Dr’s can’t figure out what is wrong with him. Is a MF topper safe?
Hi! I co sleep with my 5 month old on out 3 year old memory foam mattress and have heard that the off gassing can damage developing brains, is this true? I’m reluctant too spend tons of money on an organic or natural mattress if this does not pose a threat to my little guy, but of course if it could potentially harm him, I’ll get a new mattress…thank you!
We bought a Tempurpedic in July 2015. When our bed was delivered there was a very strong chemical smell. I was told by the delivery guy that the smell would leave within a couple days. I asked if it was safe to breath that and was told it was safe not to worry. Well as we slept on this very expensive bed I started getting sicker and sicker. To the point I was at my Drs office 3 times in a week. After numerous blood test that came back negative. I was at a loss as to why I was feeling so poorly. Then one day about a week ago my boss said maybe it’s the new bed making me sick. So I started looking at the timeline from the day of delivery and started reserching the internet and could not believe what I was reading. There were many people with my exact symptoms. I could not believe a bed could make me feel this sick. We immediately took the bed out of the house and started sleeping on our old bed in the guest room.within a couple days I was slowly starting to fill a little better by the fourth night I was able to sleep again and was not waking up nauseated. I’m now going through a detox to help rid my body of the toxic chemicals the Tempurpedic bed emitted. My husband only had a couple issues from the bed which was leg cramps, heat and he started developing a cough that would only occur at night once he laid down on the bed. Unfortunately I had many symptoms occur. Nausea, unable to sleep, heart palpations, itchy watery eyes ( woke up twice with eye crusty, red) which lasted a few days each time. I then realized that every time I went to bed my eyes would itch and burn really bad but would be fine once I was not in bed. I would fall asleep for like an hour and wake up with what I can only describe as a wired feeling and heart palpations and was not able to fall back asleep. I felt like I was wired. I was lucky if I slept 1 or 2 hours a nite. My body felt exremely week, I was unable to concentrate or focus clearly. My Dr. said I was suffering from exteme anxiety and depression ( and I had nothing traumatic happen to cause the anxiety or depression).I also had Night Sweats and It felt as if my body was just shutting down on me. Also the bed still smells really bad and our room that the bed was in still riques of the smell from the mattress. We are airing out the room everyday. The bed is now in a plastic zippered cover in the garage and is now stinking up our garage.
Update: We were able to return the mattress. They would only do an exchange so we got the Stearns And Foster Lux Series. They just delivered it this week 9/30\15 . I have it in the room and letting it air out for a few days with the window open. I am really apprehensive about sleeping in the new bed. I just do not want to get sick like I did from the Tempurpedic.
The new mattress has a slight new smell to it, which hopefully airs out.
Fingers crossed hoping this bed is ok and dosent make me ill as well.
Daniel you have no idea what you’re talking about. Tempurpedic beds have sickened many people me being one of them. Thats why there are so many class action lawsuits against them
Well I’m on day 9 of having a tempurpedic rhapsody breeze and the smell is still there. I’ve had window open and fan going. I wake up with a scratchy throat and my husband had a headache for three days. So don’t tell ME there’s no off-gassing!!!
i bought some shoes with memory foam insoles, is it the same stuff in a mattress? becasue the broke my feet out. if so, i would not be able to sleep on one of those matresses. i need to know if it contains any latex, i am highly allgeric too.
I bought a memory foam mattress with a sofa bed. It gave me the first migraine I’ve had in over a decade. I didn’t even sleep on it. I was just in the room with it for an hour each over two days while assembling other furniture. Left in a room by itself, the smell it gave off lessened after about a week but even after a month the room smelled like a smoker had been in it if we closed the windows for more than half an hour.
Petroleum fumes give me migraines. I know that and avoid paint and petrol stations and generally don’t get them. The reaction to this mattress was one of the worst I’ve ever had. I find it very troubling that so many people actually sleep on something that to me is obviously toxic.
I had to hound them a bit but did eventually get a refund. It was an enormous relief when they came and took it away.
Are memory foam/gel really dangerous and do they lose their benefits after 3-4 years?
I am debating between an Essentia 8″ mattress and a 10″ gel infused foam mattress from Galaxy for about 1/3 the price.
How long after laying on a mattress should i know if it will be good for me. Where else cam I research these products?
Within days of my optimum mattress being placed on our bed I have a terrible itchy rash on the outsides of both legs(I’m a side sleeper). My Dr. seems to lean toward it being the new mattress after elimination of other factors. Is there anything in this mattress that could cause a skin reaction? I’m no longer sleeping on the mattress (doing an experiment) to see if it could be the problem. Please respond and let me know. I miss my mattress! The only info I found on our mattress is Optimum SN340528081080
Yes I have had itchy but not from foam! It’s from the GLASS FIBERS in the inner mattress cover…working their way up out of the outer cover. They put fiberglass in there because they have to meet fireproofing regulations and apparently it’s the cheapest way! From what I’ve heard you’re not supposed to take the outer cover off (but why then does it have a ZIPPER???), but I didn’t even have to — they just came out through after a few months of wear. If they escape they get absolutely everywhere and you will want to move.
I made the mistake of taking the cover off to wash it and now there is fiberglass everywhere. I don’t know how to get rid of the fiberglass. Should I get a new mattress for my daughter?
I get red rash and very itchy from contact with latex. Cannot wear any type latex gloves (even if they’re lined) and have to inform medical personnel so they don’t use anything containing latex. If I blow up balloons I can get possible anaphylactic shock. Some laytex may have been used in the foam. You could try wearing some latex gloves for a short period of time to see if you have any reaction.
Check out the EPA info on toluene diisocyanate (TDI), one of the main VOCs (toxins, basically) in standard polyurethane.
Exact same thing happen to me after buying a zed bed memory foam mattress. I had severe rashes all over my body, I could not sleep anymore. I returned the mattress after 30 days and bought a traditional mattress with no foam whatsoever and no chemicals and have been sleeping well ever since. I had also bought memory foam pillows and returned them. They were for my kids and just the thought of them sleeping on “an ocean” of chemicals made me sick!!! Never again, those mattresses should be banned! Our society is crazy to accept this!
For many years I have heard Temperpedic was an excellent mattress. Three weeks ago, I purchased one and it is still off-gasing. I never had this problem with my I-comfort mattress. The temperpedic website states I am in a small majority but I am very happy I bought my mattress from a company that will allow me to exchange it after 30 days. The off-gasing has been a serious problem with my temperpedic.
I just bought a memory foam topper which when first arrived had the smell that you described. After a week of using it my wife and me both have check coughs and sinuses effects. I believe the reason why there in not many complaint is due to people knowledge of these chemicals in memory foam. We will always have a higher statistics of good experiences as people love to say how good a product is when first purchased before trying for several week.
An independent study is required for this to be truly understood as to the health concerns with memory foam but this would involve a lot of money that a government body will not want to pay. A study by the manufacturers will always be questionable to how bias it is.
A member of my family recently purchased a new sofa through Amer. Furniture Warehouse. They wanted a sleeper type and for an extra amt. they could get the “memory foam” for the mattress portion of the fold out bed. I am concerned that it may be toxic and outgas too much. How do they know such? How long to out gas before more tolerant? It is comfortable and thought a better option, but now unsure.
i bought a kingsize memory foam sprung mattress the chemical smell from its bad and cant help thinking its toxic only good thing other than not bad sleep but smell is overwelming .
Some information on the IKEA mattress:
The mattress has a cover on it and here is the company description of the product:
Ticking: 50 % polyester, 50 % viscose/rayon
Ticking: 64 % polyester, 36 % cotton
Ticking: 64 % cotton, 36 % polyester
Comforter filling/ Part 3: Polyester/viscose (rayon) fiber wadding
Lining/ Part 04: Non-woven polypropylene
Part 05: High-resilience polyurethane foam (cold foam) 2.2 lb/cu.ft.
Part 06: Polyurethane foam 1.7 lb/cu.ft.
We just bought an Ikea Morgedal foam mattress in the full size for my 2 year old. It felt great in the store because it was so firm and my son sleeps well on a firm surface. However, when we unpacked the rolled mattress, it had a terrible smell. It’s winter time so I could only leave the window open for an hour before it got too cold. It’s been a day and the smell is less intense now but it’s still there. I moved the mattress out of the room but the smell is still lingering. I am very worried that the mattress is unsafe, especially since my son is borderline asthmatic. Am I right to be concerned or should move the mattress to a more ventilated area and wait a few more days?
We purchased a memory foam mattress for our daughter, ever since the mattress has been in the house we have been dizzy short of breath it has made me
sick, it is full of very toxic chemicals . the lasting memory of this purchace well be tossed out the door and I hope I can get my money back good luck
We just bought a Serta memory foam mattress topper (10/15) All polyurethane with a cotton cover. How is this one as far as safety?
Hi, I just bought the Homedics by Sinomax SmartFoam 3″ memory foam topper and the Homedics by Sinomax Puregel Memory Foam Pillow but am not sure if it is safe. I got it from Walmart. […].
I purchased these because they were on a close-out holiday price, but when I opened them this evening there was a strong chemical smell.
Is this product safe? I sent the company an email since Sinomax is actually the manufacturer. I’m having trouble finding any information on the packaging. Also, it was imported from China.
Thank you for your expertise on this!
Sinomax foams are Certi-Pur certified as of 2010, which means they can’t include the major chemicals of concern such as methylene chloride, CFCs, PBDEs, etc., and also must meet a minimum threshold for VOC levels. If they were manufactured after 2010, the products you bought should be safe in terms of dangerous chemicals. If the smell is off-putting, try leaving the items to air out in a well ventilated space for several days. Wal-mart’s return policy is typically fairly generous, so if you feel the smell isn’t going away or are concerned about safety, that’s always an option, too. Hope this helps!
Hello, thanks for all your info, it can be quite scary reading about all the chemicals! I never thought of all this, we purchased a memory foam mattress ( primo international ocean breeze). I never realized these aspects so I didn’t really research of gassing etc and chemicals used in manufacturing. Now that I have read this I am somewhat freaked out! We were so focused on motion isolation and we loved the feel of the mattress. Am I correct in realizing that off gassing takes different amount of times depending on the mattress and that all mattress have chemicals in them due to fire regulations? Also as your research said the chemicals are inert in finished product which means I shouldn’t be absorbing a toxic soup? My husband made a point that these mattresses have been around a long time and although there is not much research, if they were so toxic Canada and the US would have banned them. Is this a correct assumption? Hoping you can ease my fears a bit as I love the feel of the mattress.
Off-gassing peaks when foams are new, and gradually fades. Almost all mattresses will have some types of chemicals, but the EPA does say that finished foams are inert and do not pose a serious danger to people. If the mattress does not have strong odors or you are not feeling side effects, than it likely is not something to be very worried about (only a small percentage of people report issues). It is true that both polyurethane and memory foams have been used for decades now with no major problems. The fire retardants are a newer issues (since 2007) but many brands are conscious of consumer concerns and use fiber barriers rather than chemical retardants. Ultimately, if you like your mattress and don’t have any adverse reactions, there is likely nothing to worry about. Hope this helps!
i bought a mattress which has me preoccupied, because of the polyurethane, can some one tell me how bad are this chemicals for my 5 year old boy
81 % polyurethane foam pad
10 % foam pad ( 100 % viscoelastic polyurethane)
9 % blended textile fiber batting
(40% rayon, 40 % cotton, 20 %polyester
I am an environmental doctor and I can tell you that the toxic chemicals remain even after the smell is gone. In susceptible persons, headaches, fatigue, allergies, mood disorders can be an issue. Do not believe the stores or the EPA. It’s a disaster.
Hi, I would like to hear more on what you have to say about this issue with foam mattresses and health.
Interesting. I bought my mother a foam mattress, within a week she developed headaches and vertigo and had to be hospitalized. A month later, I bought the same mattress for myself (different household). I developed severe headaches, dizziness, vertigo and at one point, lost consciousness. To a lesser degree, I am still dealing with the headaches and dizziness. Did not make a possible relation to the foam mattresses until about a month ago. Unfortunately, over a year since I bought these mattresses.
When we do our memory foam comparisons, one company that consistently stands out for having a very low number of people mentioning odors in their reviews is Amerisleep. Other than that, checking for plant-based foams is another helpful move, as are looking for brands that use fire barriers made of fiber rather than chemicals (and certified by an independent agency like Green Guard or Oeko Tex). Hope this helps!
Polyurethanes can be made from different ingredients with varying levels of outgassing, but it looks like the bed you bought uses a fiber batting barrier which is good. The most important thing would be to let the mattress breathe after buying and not put in the room until there’s no detectable odor since kids can be more sensitive to the stronger smells (if it had one when new). You could also try an organic or natural mattress protector which would place an additional barrier between your child and the bed if you are concerned (this would also help keep the bed in good condition).
Just wondering if buying a visco elastic memory foam mattress would it help as far as toxin gasses to put a cover on the mattress?
It’s always smart to use a mattress cover regardless as they can help prevent stains and debris from accumulating in the bed and prevent accidents and spills from causing damage. A mattress cover or all-over encasement could help minimize odors, but you’d want to look for a cover that itself does not have a strong odor, as some of the ones with plastic or urethane backings could have smells, as well (there are natural and organic covers out there though). Just make sure the mattress has a chance to air out before adding the cover if the smell is a concern for you. Thanks for reading!