Memory Foam Bed Review - Memory Foam Mattress Problems

Our memory foam bed review investigates common problems and shows you what to look for to find the healthiest, safest mattress.

A large number of toxic chemicals go into the making of polyurethane foam, and anyone who has been around new furniture or a new foam mattress can recognize that characteristic toxic "paint" smell that emanates off of it.



Memory Foam Bed Review - The lowdown on memory foam and soy foam

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Memory Foam is visco-elastic polyurethane foam. Memory foam softens when it comes into contact with body heat and then bounces back to its original shape afterward.

Polyurethane Foam can be found in mattresses, other types of furniture, automobiles and more. The problem is- it is toxic.

Some manufacturers are hyping up their use of plant-based or "soy foam" (we unfortunately have one such greenwashed bed.)

But it is just that. Hype. They add some soy to the process while making the foam and typically, it is only a small percentage. Better for the environment? Maybe...marginally.

Better for your health? There is absolutely no evidence that it is or could be.




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There is only one natural alternative to memory foam that I found, and it costs a lot more. If you want to forgo the memory foam altogether, you can buy safe and healthy latex mattresses or organic mattresses.

I wrote this page, though, because not everyone has the budget for latex and organic mattresses. Everyone should be able to afford a healthier bed than what is currently available in most mattress stores.

Memory Foam Bed Review- What makes the foam safer?

CertiPUR-US is a certification that can help you find safer memory foam mattresses. It only applies to the foam, though.

CertiPUR-US was started by the chemical companies, which to me lowers its credibility, but they do utilize 3rd party testing.

CertiPUR-US Certified Memory Foam must be:

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  • Low VOC - (low volatile organic compounds)
    VOCs are chemical emissions coming from products in your home. Indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality. (New products can offgas VOCs for a period of time. Let new products offgas for a bit in your garage or on your porch. Also, look for low-voc products or safe used products that have already offgassed.)

  • Made without prohibited phthalates (toxic plasticizers)
    Note that this says "prohibited". Phthalates should be avoided and not all phthalates have been banned by the government...yet. Therefore, these mattresses could still have pthalates.

  • Made without ozone depleters (no CFCs)

  • Made without mercury, lead or heavy metals

  • Made without formaldehyde

  • Made without methylene chloride

  • Made without PBDEs (toxic brominated flame retardants)


  • Memory Foam Mattress Problems – CertiPUR-US Foam Cons...

    The CertiPur-US foam certification can't tell you if your mattress will release toxic chemicals in the form of dust as your mattress ages and breaks down, or what effect any chemicals could be having as you sleep in it each night. It also doesn't address the problem of toxic adhesives and flame retardants used in beds.

    But, my take is that any sort of testing and certification to lessen the chemical exposure is better than none.

    Memory Foam Mattress Problems – On a Tight Budget?

    memory foam bed review, certipur us foam, soy foam, memory foam mattress problems, flame retardants in mattresses Bed on a Budget?

    If you can't afford an organic mattress, the second best thing would be to choose the safest one you can afford and then put an additional barrier between you and the mattress. As I mentioned, we have a green-washed memory foam mattress (not one of the brands below), but we can't get a new one right now.

    We use a water resistant dust mite allergy mattress cover that zips over the bed with an organic mattress cover on top of that (so I can wash the organic cover and not have to unzip the other one constantly.)

    Memory Foam Mattress Problems – Clear the Air

    We also have a VOC air purifier in our bedroom (regular air purifiers don't remove VOCs). The VOC air purifier has been a godsend and has given me some peace of mind. We bought it to purify the air in our brand new home and it definitely works. (See my review.)

    Safer Memory Foam Bed Review - A Word About Flame Retardants

    memory foam bed review, certipur us foam, soy foam, memory foam mattress problems, flame retardants in mattresses Flame Retardants in Mattresses

    Brominated Flame retardants (PBDEs in this case) have been used extensively in many consumer goods, including clothes, electronics and mattresses. Studies have shown that children have even higher levels in their blood than adults. They are neurotoxins and endotoxins and should be avoided.

    However, if you are buying anything with memory foam, there really needs to be some fire resistance built in. When polyurethane foam burns it emits a black smoke containing a wide array of toxic chemicals. Even one breath of smoke containing these chemicals can incapacitate a person and prevent them from escaping a fire.

    The companies we recommend use natural flame retardants.

    Part 2 - Memory Foam Mattress Reviews







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