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Top 4 Toxic Chemicals Found in Traditional Mattresses


It probably makes you shudder to think about sleeping on a bed of chemicals every night, but the truth is, most people do. Traditional mattresses are filled with several known toxic chemicals that can harm our bodies. These chemicals are referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Here are 4 of the main toxic VOCs typically found in a traditional mattress:

1. Polyurethane

“Memory foam” and various other polyfoam toppers are popular and affordable to manufacture. The problem is that the chemical used in most mattresses is polyurethane. Polyurethane is made using 2 toxic ingredients: propylene oxide and TDI (Toluene Diisocyanate). Both of these have been found by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to be cancer-causing.

Mattresses do something called “off-gassing” when they’re new, which means that as they break down, they let off all the chemical gas into the air. So as we sleep, we continually breathe in chemical dust and neurotoxins from foam and these other VOCs.

2. Vinyl

Vinyl is a particularly common material used to make baby mattresses (or any other waterproof mattress) because it keeps out moisture. The problem is that vinyl is also very toxic. Vinyl is made from phthalates and metal, both of which have serious health consequences. Exposure to phthalates has been proven to cause problems like allergies, asthma, birth defects and reproductive issues.

3. Synthetic latex

Synthetic latex is another common but toxic ingredient found in many traditional mattresses. It has also been proven to cause cancer and other health issues such as depression, headaches and hearing loss. Just like polyurethane foam mattresses, synthetic latex is a cheap product to make so that’s why it’s widely used.

Natural latex, on the other hand, is slightly more costly but much safer for you to sleep on.

4. Flame retardants

Foam is shockingly one of the most flammable materials, so sleeping on it is pretty dangerous. To try to make it “safer,” mattress manufacturers soak them in flame retardants.

Great idea, right?


Common flame retardants used in traditional mattresses are called halogenated flame retardants (HFRs). These include chemicals like bromine, chlorine, iodine and fluorine. Some states have banned HFRs because they’ve been shown to cause cancer, thyroid problems and stunt reproductive development. Other flame retardants that are widely used are boric acid and antimony.

One flame retardant that isn’t used very often but works just as effectively is wool. Wool is a natural flame retardant that doesn’t require any added toxic chemicals.

A healthier alternative: non-toxic, natural mattresses

When you’re looking for a better alternative, be careful not to be fooled into thinking that just because a mattress is labeled “natural” or “plant-based” that it doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals. Mattress manufacturers often try to cover up the bad by putting 10 percent good materials inside and slapping a “natural” sticker on it.

At Shepherd’s Dream, we’ve sought to create a truly 100% synthetic-free mattress made of natural fibers. We don’t add any toxic chemicals to our mattresses, so you can rest easy knowing you’re sleeping on something that won’t harm you or your family. Made for you, naturally!

Top 4 Toxic Chemicals Found in Traditional Mattresses 1

See our 100% synthetic-free mattress

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