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Question from KER

Hi, just saw a segment on a shopping channel, while channel-surfing. The Simmons BeautyRest company was hyping its foam inside the mattress – saying it containted no formaldehyde, no chlorofluorocarbons, no lead, no mercury. They talked about how other mattresses smell a lot when you take off the plastic wrapper; theirs to not, because there is no outgassing. I am SO skeptical, but oh, if only. Their website says nothing about this! Any comments? Thanks!

Debra’s Answer

Well, there is some information about this.

I found it on the website North Shore Bedding, which says

Simmons Mattresses Screenshot

I also found it on a complaints about these mattresses to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
www.saferproducts.gov/ViewIncident/1232160

And here’s a press release announcing these mattresses are certified by GREENGUARD because of the CertiPUR-US certified foam.

www.prweb.com/releases/2010/10/prweb4646034.htm

But here’s the thing. I researched this foam extensively. It’s polyurethane foam made with a whole list of toxic chemicals (which I will write about another day).

Notice that it says LOW emissions, not NO emissions.

Then it says it’s made without “prohibited phthalates.” Um hmmm. All the foams are made without prohibited phthalates. They are prohibited by law. So nothing different here.

No CFCs. Well, CFCs were banned in 1978, so, again, no polyurethane foam is made with them.

Typically mercury, lead and other heavy metals are also not used to make polyurethane foam.

Formaldehyde also is not part of the polyurethane foam formula.

And PBDE’s have been banned in the United States since 2004. Again, no foam would have them for this reason.

It’s great the mattress doesn’t contain any of these chemicals. But it does contain other chemicals.

In fact, this certified foam is no different than any other polyurethane foam. It’s just telling you that it doesn’t contain chemicals that wouldn’t be there in the first place.

It’s like putting a label on a can of pineapple that says “fat-free.” Well, yes, there is no fat in this can of pineapple, but neither to any other pineapples contain fat.

By contract, organic cotton, for example, has NO emissions. I don’t want to sleep on a LOW emission mattress. When you see that phrase “low emissions” it means there are emissions of toxic chemicals. Certainly there might be less toxic chemicals than other mattresses, but it’s more emissions than natural fibers.

I’ll stick with my organic wool mattress, thank you.

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