According to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, most mattresses on the market are full of chemicals that can pollute your bedroom air and harm your body. This includes polyurethane foam that can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, harmful chemicals that can cause respiratory irritation or other health problems; flame retardant chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and adverse effects on the immune system; and PVC or vinyl covers that can damage developing reproductive systems.
If possible, choose a mattress made with at least 95 percent organic content, which could include cotton, wool or natural latex. Look for Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS, certification. To receive GOTS certification, the mattress cannot be made of polyurethane foam or contain a number of hazardous chemicals. Look for the Global Organic Latex Standard, or GOLS certification for organic latex.
If you are interested in a latex-based mattress, choose one with 100 percent natural latex. Latex is a renewable material made from rubber tree sap, and unlike polyurethane, latex is less likely to emit high levels of VOCs. It is also highly resistant to mold and dust mites, and is more durable than petroleum-based foam. Natural latex mattresses are increasingly easy to find at reasonable prices.
Also, void mattresses or covers made of PVC or vinyl, which are sources of phthalates–chemicals that affect the reproductive system. Instead, add accident protection with a waterproof mattress cover made of polyurethane laminate, or PUL, fabric or polyethylene.
For more information visit the Environmental Working Group website.