Synthetic mattresses contain hundredths of harmful chemicals including formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, while organic and natural latex (also known as natural rubber) mattresses are natural and safe as well as bio-degradable.
The Synthetic Problem
Synthetic mattresses contain harmful chemicals. Research has shown that the prolonged exposure to these chemicals can cause serious illness or cancer. Consider this: if you were to sleep on a synthetic mattress for eight hours a night for five years, that’d add up to over 14,600 hours of exposure time.
Below are some of the chemicals commonly used in synthetic mattresses, and the effects they can have.
Used in synthetic mattresses as an adhesive, formaldehyde has been linked to lung, throat, and nose cancers. Repeated exposure to formaldehyde can have serious effects on the respiratory system, cause asthma, and increase your likelihood of contracting bronchitis or pneumonia.
The National Cancer Institute (NCA) has conducted studies to determine the link between formaldehyde and an increased risk in cancer. Several NCA studies have determined that anatomists and embalmers (who are regularly exposed to formaldehyde in their work) have an increased risk of leukemia and brain cancer.
A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) looked at 11,039 textile workers, who had been exposed to formaldehyde. This study corresponded with the earlier NCA studies by finding a link between exposure to formaldehyde and Leukemia.
This is a petroleum-based material, which can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Polyurethane foam is often used in mattresses for infant’s cribs, exposing babies to the harmful fumes they let off. An article in the Archives of Environmental Health expressed concern that the foam may be related to increasing incidents of childhood cancer.
A study on mice conducted at Anderson Laboratories in Vermont supported this theory. When the mice were exposed to the emissions from synthetic crib mattresses, their breathing was impeded. They experienced both heart and respiratory irritation, and some mice had severe, asthma-like reactions. The mice were only exposed to these fumes for two, one-hour periods. Imagine how sleeping every night on these mattresses affects children.
Manufacturers cover mattresses in fire retardants to counteract the flammability of their mattress chemicals. These fire retardant chemicals enter people’s systems, and as studies have shown, they can disrupt normal brain development in fetuses and infants. This is bad news, because flame retardants have been found in disturbingly high concentrations in people’s blood and breast milk. Mothers are passing these chemicals on to their children.
For example, CBS News reported on woman whose blood test revealed that she had 19 different flame retardant chemicals in her body. The same CBS article quoted an Environmental Protection Agency toxicologist, who was concerned about the effects fire retardants have on developing children.
The same toxicologist said research on young, developing animals has shown fire retardants affect their brains and reproductive systems. It is safe to say the same would be true for human infants.