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How to Find a Healthy Mattress

The average person spends nearly a third of their life asleep on a mattress. Consequently, any chemical treatments or off-gassing will be directly inhaled and can detrimentally affect health. As the green movement has continued to gain strength, more mattress manufacturers have strived to create products that are both comfortable and safe for human health. There are ways consumers can recognize a healthy mattress and it starts with natural, organic materials.

The Right Materials

Natural and/or organic materials in the support core, comfort layers, and mattress cover reduce overall exposure to any harmful chemicals used in the production or manufacturing process. However, most green mattresses are made from 60 to 95 percent natural and/or organic materials. These materials may include:

  • Natural Latex: Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree. The sap must go through one of two manufacturing processes before it becomes the latex foam used in mattresses. Even all-natural latex mattresses are usually mixed with at least 5 percent synthetic latex, which is derived from petrochemicals. However, all-natural latex mattresses are among the safest mattresses on the market.

  • Plant-Based Foams: Plant oils are used to make these foams rather than chemicals, reducing the overall chemical and chemical emissions.

  • Organic Fabrics and Fibers: Mattress covers made with certified organic cotton and wool have been exposed to fewer chemicals throughout the growing, harvesting, and manufacturing process.

  • Fire Socks with Natural Materials: Mattresses have to meet strict flammability standards. Fire socks made of natural materials like cotton, wool, and thistle are a safer alternative to chemical flame retardants.

These materials can be used to make innerspring, foam, latex, or hybrid mattresses. However, mattress labels like “green”, “organic”, and “all-natural” can be misleading as they may only apply to a few components in the mattress, not the overall product. That’s why it’s also important to look for independent certifications.

Green Mattress Certifications

Independent testing institutes and organizations evaluate everything from manufacturing processes to the chemical emissions of components and finished products. These certifications are a better indication of the overall health safety of the mattress than a list of components. A few of the most effective certifications for human health risk include:

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: This certification comes from an international organization made up of 18 independent research and testing institutes. The mattresses are evaluated for emissions from dangerous chemicals such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and chemical flame retardants to name a few.  This particular certification does not indicate a natural or organic product, but rather focuses on the health risk of the finished mattress.

  • CertiPUR-US: This certification is given after the polyurethane foam used in the mattress has been tested for harmful chemicals and materials like PBDEs and lead.

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): To receive this certification, the mattress must be made with 70 percent certified organic materials. Both raw materials and all derivative products are evaluated in the process. Additionally, certain chemicals like polyfoam and formaldehyde cannot be found in the remaining 30 percent.

  • Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): All latex used in the mattress must be 95 percent organically produced to receive this certification. Latex mattresses can receive both a GOTS and GOLS certification.

Mattress health directly affects human health. At this point, it takes some research to find a mattress that’s both safe for human health and the environment. It can be done, and as consumer demand puts pressure on manufacturers for safer processes and materials, the options will continue to grow.

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