Is a viscoelastic foam mattress toxic? While you're pretty sure that you won't wake up after your first night's sleep on a memory foam mattress with your body covered in pustules, the fumes from a new mattress can be a nuisance for some people. These odours, which come from the chemicals used in some brands of mattresses, can pose a risk in large quantities. Polysleep has looked into the matter.
How are foam mattresses made?
More than 60 different chemicals can be used in the composition of some foam mattresses. From the adhesive used to glue the different layers of foam together to the substances present in natural latex, which are used in the manufacture of polymers, no foam mattress is completely free of chemical compounds. However, many brands contain less than others, or even only infinitesimal amounts.
For example, some foam mattresses may contain different products: formaldehyde/benzene/naphthalene/isocyanates/etc. Of course, you will not die from poisoning, but nothing prevents these substances, if they are found in very large quantities, from being toxic.
The presence of chemicals is easily detected by the “chemical” smell that your mattress will give off once you take it out of the cover. Fortunately, this smell is not permanent, and once you've aired your mattress for a few hours—or a few days, depending on the brand—you'll be able to use your new purchase without being bothered by the smell.
Can I buy a mattress free of chemicals?
If you are concerned about the toxicity of foam mattresses or are sensitive to chemicals, look for a mattress with the CertiPUR-US certification, which ensures that these mattresses are manufactured without ozone-depleting substances, heavy metals, flame retardants or near-zero VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.
The presence of chemicals is not “reserved” to foam mattresses, far from it! Spring mattresses and all other types of mattresses contain chemicals in proportions that vary from brand to brand; the important thing is to be well informed, no matter what type of mattress you are shopping for!