Are You Breathing Embalming Fluid While Counting Sheep?
Since the 1960s, mattresses have been made largely of polyurethane; a synthetic
plastic-like substance that is supposedly inert, meaning that it doesn’t break
down or react with other chemicals. It’s known to give off potentially harmful
chemicals, though, called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals
have been linked to skin irritation and respiratory problems. If you’ve ever
noticed a hazy film on the inside of a new car’s windshield, what you’ve seen
is a buildup of invisible VOCs that have outgassed from the plastics in your
Modern beds are also made with adhesives that may feature formaldehyde. You know; the
stuff they use to preserve body parts in laboratories. Formaldehyde is a chief
component of embalming fluid. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Formaldehyde has
been linked to a host of respiratory conditions, including asthma, allergies
and various respiratory tract cancers. Mattresses are also treated with
chemical flame retardants. The worst of these were phased out in 2005,
But if your mattress is older than that, you should know that it may contain these polybrominated diphenyl
which accumulate in the body’s fatty tissues, and have been shown to reduce
fertility. They’ve also been shown to affect development in children.
Unfortunately, buying a new mattress may be little help, since no one knows
what chemicals mattress companies are using to help meet new, stricter
flammability standards that were imposed by the government in 2007.
Hites RA. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
in the environment and in people: a meta-analysis of concentrations. Environ Sci Technol.
2004 Feb 15;38(4):945-56.
Nakaoka R, Tsuchiya T, Nakamura A. Studies on the mechanisms of
tumorigenesis induced by polyetherurethane in rats: production of superoxide,
tumor necrosis factor, and interleukin 1 from macrophages cultured on different
polyetherurethanes. J Biomed Mater Res. 2000 Jan;49(1):99-105.