From Dr. Mercola:
You spend about one-third of your life sleeping; that’s a lot of time spent with your body snuggled up against your mattress. This sanctuary should not only allow you to get proper rest, but should do so in a pure fashion without exposing you to unnecessary risk.
Unfortunately, most mattresses are anything but pure. As of July 1, 2007, all U.S. mattresses are required to be highly flame retardant to the extent that they won’t catch on fire if exposed to a blowtorch. This means they may contain flame-retardant chemicals.
One type of flame-retardant chemical, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), has been banned in the U.S. since 2004 due to health concerns. But if your mattress contains polyurethane foam and was manufactured before this date, it might still contain them.
Boric acid, a toxic respiratory irritant used to kill roaches; antimony, a metal that may be more toxic than mercury and formaldehyde, which causes cancer, are some of the other chemicals that lurk in many mattresses — even those from “high-end” brands.
What’s Hiding in Your Mattress?
In most cases it’s virtually impossible to find out what’s really in your mattress. Mattress manufacturers are not required to label or disclose which chemicals their mattresses contain. They may even claim that their mattresses are safe, when in reality they are not. As reported by Mother Jones:1
“Major manufacturers such as Simmons, Sealy, and Tempur-Pedic won’t divulge their flame-retardant formulas, which are considered trade secrets
A best guess at what’s in today’s mattresses comes from Ryan Trainer, [president] of the International Sleep Products Association, an industry group.
He says most companies use ‘various types of barrier fabrics’ such as cotton treated with boric acid or rayon treated with silica — both relatively benign chemicals — as well as fire-resistant materials such as modacrylic fiber (which contains antimony oxide, a carcinogen) and melamine resin (which contains formaldehyde).”
Mattresses may off-gas such chemicals, which means they slowly “leak” out over time. Studies looking into the health risks of sleeping on a chemical-laden mattress are hard to come by, but we do know that such chemicals themselves pose hazards.
PBDEs, for instance, disrupt mechanisms that are responsible for releasing hormones in your body, as well as alter calcium signaling in your brain, which is a critical mechanism for learning and memory.
These chemicals actually resemble the molecular structure of PCBs, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and impaired fetal brain development.
Like PCBs, even though certain PBDEs have been banned in some U.S. states and the European Union, they persist in the environment and accumulate in your body.
Higher exposures to PBDEs have been linked to decreased fertility, which could be in part because the chemicals may mimic your thyroid hormones.2 Previous research has suggested PBDEs can lead to decreases in TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone).3
Although newer mattresses will no longer contain PBDEs, the chemicals used to replace them may be just as