How to Know if Your Bed is Toxic

Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, with your bed the centerpiece. This important piece of furniture, which you’re likely to spend the most time on out of everything else in the house, can greatly impact your health and well-being.

We spend an average of one-third of our life on a mattress, and many are filled with synthetic materials, some of which can be toxic. For the past 40 to 50 years, most mattresses have been made out of polyurethane foam, a type of petroleum-based material that emits volatile substances and that can result in respiratory problems as well as skin irritation.

Formaldehyde is used to make adhesives that hold mattresses together and it’s been linked to all types of health conditions, including asthma, allergies and even lung and throat cancer. In addition, flame-retardant chemicals have also been known to cause cancer and other serious issues.

Flame-retardants are considered a health hazard. The semi-volatile organic compounds cling to house dust and accumulate in the body as they are inhaled. As the foam begins to break down over time, these substances continue to be released at a higher rate. The chemicals are also absorbed through the skin by direct contact.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average adult will absorb a dose of .802 milligrams of antimony, or arsenic, every night, as well as .081 mg of boric acid and .073 mg of decabromodiphenyl oxide from flameproof mattresses. People for Clean states that the average five-year-old will absorb .5 mg of antimony every night—63 times more poison than the EPA says is safe.

In addition to the mattress, many bed frames are made out of particleboard, glued with toxic glues and finished with toxic sealers that can contribute to even greater chemical exposure while you’re sleeping.

Synthetic bedding emits low levels of toxins from fabric finish along with synthetic dyes and fabric treatments, such as permanent-press bedding treated with formaldehyde that remains in the fabric even after it’s laundered. Unless the cotton and wool used in bedding are organic, they’ve been heavily treated with pesticides that also remain in the bedding.

Non-toxic Bed Options

To prevent yourself from being exposed to the wide range of chemicals in a mattress, if you have the money, your best bet is to buy an all-organic mattress; however, these can cost thousands of dollars, which isn’t usually feasible for the average person.

One option is to wrap your standard mattress in a barrier that blocks toxins as they off-gas, at least to a certain extent. Look for organic cotton barriers that are machine washable and can protect the mattress. You might also consider searching for a high-quality used mattress that has already been off-gassed.

If the thought of that makes you a little nauseous, consider sterilizing it by placing the mattress in the sun for about a day on each side. “Sunning” is an old-fashioned way of cleaning and sterilizing mattresses and bedding and can kill any bedbugs or dust mites—and makes it smell nice and fresh, too.

toxic bedYour bed frame should ideally be made from solid wood and finished with a non-toxic wood oil, or remain unfinished. If it’s designed to hold wooden slats, this also eliminates the need for a box spring while allowing for air circulation under the mattress to facilitate evaporation of moisture.

The best bedding materials should be chemical-free and absorbent, such as organic cotton, wool or silk. Bedding should also use only natural dyes.

Sleeping in a healthy bed can provide for a much better night’s rest, knowing that toxic chemicals are not harming you or your family.

-The Alternative Daily


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