Clean living is important, and that’s why more and more people are turning to healthier lifestyles in the form of organically grown fruits and vegetables, free-range meats and eggs, and hormone-free dairy. But just as it’s important to support health and well-being with wholesome foods, it’s also vital to make sure that your environment is as free from toxins and chemicals as possible. That includes the place where you spend one-third of your life – your bed.
Organic mattresses are produced with latex, wool, and cotton that is grown organically, without harsh chemical pesticides. If you’re worried about yours and your family’s health, and you’re ready to make your living environment cozier and more comfortable, you should make the switch to organic mattresses. Sure, they might be a little more expensive, but you can’t put a price on good health – and organic mattresses are certainly the right choice to make if you’re worried about off-gassing chemicals and allergens.
What Organic Mattresses Can Do for Your Family’s Health
Conventional mattresses are often made with synthetic materials, like vinyl, polyurethane foams and fabrics, press board, and other manmade fibers, fabrics, and materials. Most such mattresses are treated with a range of chemicals. Some of those treatments are antibacterial or flame retardant, designed to bring the mattress up to federal safety standards. However, chemical dyes and adhesives are also used for cosmetic or other purposes.
These synthetic materials and chemical treatments can make traditional mattresses hazardous to your health. The last time you bought a traditional mattress, you may have noticed that it had some kind of chemical odor. This is the result of off-gassing, in which the materials release chemical compounds into the air. Some of these chemical compounds, like volatile organic compounds or VOCs, can have negative health effects over the short or long term.
Chemicals in traditional mattresses can be especially problematic if you or anyone in your family suffers from asthma, allergies, or skin sensitivities. The dyes, flame retardants, and other additives in traditional mattresses can aggravate allergies and cause skin irritation. Off-gassing of chemicals can exacerbate asthma, COPD, and other respiratory illnesses.
And that’s not even factoring in the possible long-term effects of exposure to flame retardants and other chemicals. Of course, if someone in your family has allergies or asthma, buying new mattresses regularly is essential anyway, since dust, dander, and other irritants build up in the fibers of a mattress over time.
Demystifying the Jargon
If you’re in the market for new organic mattress, you may be baffled by some of the jargon and terms that manufacturers put on the labels of these products. A natural mattress has many health benefits, but you have to understand what the terms on the label mean in order to get exactly what you want.
The best organic mattresses meet either the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), if the mattress does not contain natural latex, or the GOTS and the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), if the mattress does contain natural latex.
The GOTS standard requires that more than 95 percent of the textile materials in the mattress be certified organic. It also bans the use of certain materials in the other five percent of the mattress contents. These banned materials include polyurethane and chemical flame retardants.
The GOLS standard requires that organic latex mattresses be made with more than 95 percent organic latex. They also place restrictions on what materials can be used in the other five percent of the mattress contents. Organic latex mattresses may meet both the GOTS and the GOLS standard, as the best such mattresses do.
However, these aren’t the only labels that you might see on organic mattresses, and indeed, if you can’t afford a top-of-the-line organic mattress, you might be looking at models labeled with different certifications. The Greenguard label, for example, certifies that a mattress has been tested for off-gassing of formaldehyde and other toxic VOCs; the Greenguard Gold is a similar, but more stringent, certification.
The Organic Standard 100 score lets you know what percentage of a mattress consists of organic materials. In general, the U.S. Department of Agriculture only allows mattresses to carry the label “organic” if some portion of the mattress consists of organic materials, but it doesn’t set a lower threshold for that portion. Finally, while high-end organic mattresses may contain no polyurethane foam, some more affordable models do contain it; the CertiPUR-US label indicates that a mattress contains polyurethane foam, but is free of flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PDBE), formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals or VOCs.
If you’re in the market for a new mattress, the best choice you can make is to buy organic. Organic mattresses cut down on toxic chemical compounds in your home, so you can stop worrying about your family’s health, and finally get a good night’s sleep.