New Report on Toxic Chemicals in Bedding Offer Safer Alternatives

A new report released on September 5th shows that conventional bedding (mattresses, pillows, sheets) can be laden with toxic chemicals known to harm our health. Detox Your Sleep, a report from the non-profit organization Made Safe, is the first-of-its-kind report to look at the materials that make up what we sleep on and how they affect our health, with a comprehensive look at the safer alternatives.

The report examines how conventional materials and the chemicals they’re treated with can impact human health, from foam and polyester to adhesives and waterproof baby mattresses. A few points include:

• Most mattresses are made of polyurethane foam, which is treated with flame retardants, linked to endocrine disruption, lower IQ, hyperactivity, altered sexual development, fertility issues, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer.
• Foam mattresses off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including a chemical manufactured with phosgene, a poisonous gas originally used as a chemical weapon in WWI that was responsible for the majority of deaths.
• Baby mattresses are often made with waterproof vinyl, which can off-gas plasticizing phthalates and harmful VOCs directly into the baby’s sleep environment.
• Sheets labeled “wrinkle-free,” “no wrinkle,” “no iron,” and other terms can contain a finish of formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.

The report goes on to detail safer materials, including cotton, wool, latex, and others. It also includes a list of MADE SAFE certified options, which are products that have been third-party vetted to ensure they’re made without toxic chemicals known to harm human health or ecosystem. Brands listed in the report include Naturepedic, Coyuchi, and others.

“The problem is that it’s been hard for people to figure out which bedding is safe and what’s not, with no labeling and little information out there,” said Amy Ziff, executive director of Made Safe, which released the report. “We’re proud to offer this resource to people so that for the first time, they can easily create a healthy sleep environment.”

Adults spend eight hours each night sleeping, totaling almost one-third of our lives, and babies spend two-thirds of their time sleeping, making it especially critical that bedding be nontoxic.

“This is a thoroughly-researched and well-constructed report,” said Summer Streets, environmental chemist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency I learned more about bedding that I ever thought I wanted to know. This report will make choosing safer bedding a much easier task.”

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