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Memory Foam Mattresses: Are They Safe?

Memory Foam Mattresses: Are They Safe?

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe?

Memory Foam Mattress Ingredients: are the dangers real or exaggerated?

Are the chemicals in your life freaking you out or have you found yourself wondering if products like memory foam mattresses are safe? If you’ve been looking into this type of mattress or any other, you may be wondering whether chemicals and odors could represent a real danger.

The concern is definitely a valid one, as we spend nearly one-third of our lives in bed on a mattress. Not to mention, all too often some new material or product is seemingly trying to kill us.

Want to know which mattress brand is safest? Click here to find out!

From flame retardants to foaming agents, the ingredients used on some memory foam beds can certainly raise some eyebrows. Many websites discuss toxins and other potential problems created by synthetic chemicals which has brought the issue to the forefront.

Knowledge is power, right? In this article, we will look at memory foam ingredients, research, consumer information and product comparisons to assess memory foam safety. Some mattresses are safer than others and after reading this you’ll know how to tell the difference.

A Look Inside Memory Foam Mattresses

So, what are these things made of? Memory foam beds all have two core components: a polyurethane memory foam layer and a polyurethane foam core layer. These layers are wrapped in some type of fabric, and all mattresses must also have flameproofing of some sort to meet federal safety laws.

Some brands may include other materials as well such as gel or gel-infused foam, latex foam, or padding from polyester, wool or cotton. Most people are fairly familiar with these types of materials. The components people are usually concerned about are the memory foam itself and fire-proofing chemicals, which we will take a closer look at below.

Memory Foam & Polyurethane Foam Components

  • Polyols – the binder/bulk ingredient. Usually composed of petroleum oil-derived ingredients, but may also include botanical sources like soy or castor beans.
  • Diisocyanates – the reactive ingredient. Reacts with the polyols and blowing agent to produce a flexible polyurethane foam. The most commonly used sources are MDI and TDI, which alone in raw forms can cause respiratory and dermal sensitization and may be carcinogenic. MDI is regarded as the safer and less toxic option, and is known to be the least hazardous organic isocyanate. The primary hazard with these compounds is during manufacturing; after reacting they are inert but can offgas.
  • Blowing Agents – introduces carbon to create the foam. Used to use CFCs, though today manufacturers may use water, HFC or other agents.

Looking for a new mattress? Read our 2016 mattress reviews guide

Possible Ingredients/Byproducts of Concern

Which ingredients are causing all the trouble? There are some other chemicals that can be in memory foam, however the ingredients used in a specific brand’s memory foam are considered trade secret and are not required to be released. Often, pinpointing the components is impossible.

The good thing is that US laws and voluntary restrictions have phased out most of the more concerning chemicals that could be present in memory foam, though these would not necessarily apply to imports.

Here are chemicals that can be or have been found in memory foam and potential issues. Note that each manufacturer uses their own “recipe”, so these do not apply to all lines.

  • Methylene dianiline / MDA – suspected carcinogen, eye and skin irritant, liver and thyroid damage with ingestion. Household products produce very low levels, greatest risk is during manufacturing.
  • Vinilideine chloride – eye and respiratory irritation, possible carcinogen, organ damage. Primary hazard is during manufacturing.
  • Methyl benzene  – inhalation can affect nervous system.
  • Dimethylformamide – organ damage possible, and possible carcinogen, though primary risk is during manufacturing.
  • Acetone – toxic when inhaled in large amounts, but limited effects with low exposure.
  • Methylene chloride – a solvent, mucous membrane irritant and potential carcinogen. Use has declined in recent years due to EU restrictions and pollution regulations.
  • Formaldehyde – typically not added to foams, but may result as a byproduct of chemical reactions or adhesives.

Rarely Used or Banned:

  • 1,1,1,2 Tetrachoroethane – a possible carcinogen and cause of organ damage with long-term exposure, but rarely used in the US.
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – used as a blowing agent to make the material foam. Pollution regulations (the Montreal Protocol) have largely restricted this and other toxic halogens in the US since the 1990s. Manufacturers can use other gases or pressurized foaming systems instead.

Flame-Proofing Methods

Sometimes products designed to protect us from one type of harm can have other ill effects. Fire barriers in some mattresses are such products. Though fire retardant, some contain toxic chemicals.

All mattresses sold in the United States must be able to withstand an open flame for a set period of time, per federal guidelines. This measure is designed to reduce mattress fires and improve consumer safety. But not all fire retardant materials are safe for humans to be around.

Because polyurethane foams are typically flammable, all must be treated with a chemical or a fire-resistant fabric. However, manufacturers are not required to disclose how they achieve fire resistance, so it may be not be easy to get this information from less transparent companies. Some of the chemicals used can be toxic.

  • Brominated fire retardants/Polybrominated diphenyl ethers/PBDEs – refers to a group of substances that can be used to resist flames. The variations confirmed to be carcinogenic have been phased out in the US since 2005.
  • Cotton treated with boric acid – possible organ toxicity.
  • Chlorinated tris (TDCPP) – Possible neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. Common flame retardant, but was recently the reason for a large crib mattress lawsuit in California.
  • Wool – natural wool is a possible fire retardant, though usually not on memory foam beds.
  • Modacrylic fiber – contains antimony oxide, a carcinogen.
  • Melamine resin – contains formaldehyde.
  • Decabromodiphenyl Oxide – hair loss, neurological effects, possible carcinogen.
  • Kevlar – strong fibers, not natural but non-toxic.
  • Alessandra fabric – wrapped fiberglass fibers, can be safe but may contain modacrylic fiber.
  • Rayon treated with silica – non toxic, rayon is derived from bamboo pulp and silica from glass/sand.

The alarming toxicity of these chemicals in the fire barriers and other materials has prompted some new thinking on flame retardants.

“Instead of adding new fire retardant chemicals that ultimately may be shown to cause health problems, we should be asking whether we need to use these chemicals or if there are other ways to achieve equivalent fire safety, so many of the chemicals we have banned in the past were flame retardants—think about asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated biphenyls, tris(2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate, PBDEs—[and] they all ended up in the environment and in people. We need to think carefully about adding these sorts of chemicals to consumer products before there is adequate health information,” says Arlene Blum, a biophysical chemist and visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

What are the risks of VOCs and Off-Gassing?

The most hyped danger surrounding mattresses made of memory foam remains “VOCs” and “off-gassing”. The two terms refer to the same phenomenon of chemicals breaking down and dispersing into the air, which some have attributed to allergic reactions, breathing issues and toxin buildup. Memory foam and all polyurethane-containing and otherwise manufactured products can have a “new” odor, usually most noticeable the first few weeks

The term VOCs is short for volatile organic compounds. VOCs are called such because they are unstable and break down or degrade at room temperature, releasing odors as they do. You are already familiar with VOCs and their odors if you have ever smelled fresh paint, new cars, new furniture, some new clothes, and hundreds of other household and industrial products.

Low-level VOCs are difficult for researchers to study and assess due to their ubiquity and the time frame that would be required to assess effects (it is also impossible to isolate VOCs and their potential effects from every other item we encounter). Alone, their impact ranges from safe to toxic according to MSDS. Several are no more significant than an odor, and even humans and plants release types of VOCs as a part of biological processes.

However, some sources (some of which can be in memory foam like toluene, benzene and formaldehyde) have been associated with respiratory irritation, throat irritation, forgetfulness, feeling dizzy or developing a headache, and repeated exposure can lead to sensitization or allergic reactions (this is typically associated with workplace exposure however, according to the EPA).

Almost always, VOC hazards are higher in the raw materials used to create stable products like foams than in the finished product itself. As with memory foam, once the chemical components are combined into a stabilized product, the VOC release is minimized. Unreacted polymers and other components like glues and fire retardants can pose lingering odors and strong scents as well, though.

Not all foams are the same, however. Plant-based memory foams, like those from Amerisleep, give off fewer VOCs than mattresses made from synthetic foams.

How Do You Know if You’ll Be Affected?

Out of the many consumers who have bought memory foam beds, a very small portion seem to experience allergic-type reactions. There are some reports online of people experiencing nose, throat or eye irritation, asthma irritation, or nausea which they attribute to mattress odors. These reviews are in the minority compared to the thousands who have owned memory foam without incident over the past 25 years. According to Sleep Like The Dead’s research, odors cause less than 2% of people overall to return these mattresses.

Although different brands can vary on odor, beware if a company is pitching you “no VOC or VOC free” memory foam, as that is not a plausible product given how memory foam is made. A memory foam can be “low VOC” or “free of toxic VOCs”, but as we’ve mentioned before, almost every organic product has odorous properties that are “VOCs”.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission recently sued and fined a few companies making the VOC-free claim that could not back it up including Essentia, Relief-Mart/Temp-Flow, and Ecobaby Organics. Tempurpedic has also recently been named in a class-action lawsuit, whose plaintiffs allege that the brand wrongly claimed their beds were formaldehyde and voc-free and that some consumers have reported issues.

Related: A look at chemicals in mattresses

The polyurethane used in memory foam beds is the same foam used in most household furniture (like sofas, recliners, and other items with foam). Almost all innerspring mattresses also have layers of polyurethane, and similar fire-barrier materials as well. If you experience an issue with other polyurethane containing items (like spring mattresses) or have reactions to odors from paint or new furniture, you may experience an issue with high-VOC memory foam as well.

If this is a concern for you, we recommend looking into natural latex mattresses which have no polyurethane foam. However, if you have no prior issues with sensitivity, than memory foam should not pose any major discomfort or health threat to you.

How Do Memory Foam Mattress Brands Compare?

Here is an example of how leading brands compare on complaints of odor, from our past article on choosing a memory foam mattress and from SleepLikeTheDead.com (listed alphabetically):

BrandMemory Foam TypeDensityReviewers Complaining of OdorOverall Satisfaction
AmerisleepPlant-Based4.0 lbs3%95%
Sealy OptimumTraditional3.7-4.0 lbs7%82%
Serta iComfortTraditional3.0-5.0 lbs6%83%
Simmons ComforpedicTraditional2.5-5.5 lbs6%82%
TempurpedicTraditional2.5-7.0 lbs18%81%

Choosing a Safe Memory Foam Mattress

As we previously explained, studying the effects or risks of potential VOC exposure from memory foam is a difficult task, so there is little specific research, and none showing that memory foam is toxic or unsafe. The Polyurethane Foam Association, an industry group, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency both say that finished memory foam is inert and does not represent a health hazard.According to the EPA’s review of MDI and TDI, “Completely cured products are fully reacted and therefore are considered to be inert and non-toxic.”

A 2011 study from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) concluded, “We did not find a scientific connection between respiratory problems and exposure to TDI.”  The American Chemistry Council also says that “Many polyurethane products are completely cured and therefore considered “inert” before they are sold, such as mattresses, pillows, furniture cushions, […].”

Once the polyols and isocyanates have reacted, they are chemically inert (no longer volatile) and no longer pose the dangers that individual components may. Polyurethane manufacturers in the United States are carefully regulated regarding ingredients and pollution, and the US and EU have banned the most hazardous chemicals and additives in the past 10 years. Residual concerns for choosing a safe bed of memory foam would include off-gassing odors and chemicals in adhesives and fire-proofing methods.

In order to choose the healthiest possible memory foam bed, here are few things you could check for when shopping around:

  1. Find out if a the foam is plant-based or made from petroleum. Plant-based foams have fewer synthetic materials in them and emit fewer VOCs.
  2. Ask if the foam was made with MDI or TDI, as MDI is known to be safer.
  3. Ask what kind of blowing agents are used; halogen gases CFCs/HFCs contribute to air pollution. Variable pressure foaming is a newer technique that negates the need for chemical blowing agents.
  4. See what the memory foam is made of. Blends that have a portion made with plant-based materials (20%+) have less petroleum content and thus less propensity to off-gas.
  5. Ask how the mattress achieves anti-flammability standards. Rayon treated silica and kevlar fabrics (not just seams) appear to be the safest options for reducing chemicals.
  6. See if there are any testing standards applicable to the mattress. Oeko-tex and Certipur require a minimum level of VOCs and product safety.
  7. Know that high-density foams have a greater amount of polymers, and thus are more likely to have stronger odors.
  8. Ask where the actual memory foam and poly foam layers are manufactured. If it is in the US or EU, they are made under stricter regulations than some imported foams and could be a safer option.

While ideally manufacturers would be open about product ingredients, due to tough competition and trade standards many brands may not disclose the information, and many salespeople may be uniformed. You can research online or contact companies directly if salespeople are unsure or don’t offer satisfactory answers.

The other way you can check on the safety of a mattress is to read reviews online and check the consumer product safety commission records. If a high percentage of reviewers mention strong odors or side effects, then the mattress may have a higher proportion of VOC content. If they just mention a light non-bothersome smell, or no smell, than the VOC content is likely lower. Keep in mind that smell is highly subjective, however, if a very large number of people report physical effects like sinus irritation than you may want to steer clear if this is a concern for you.

Want to know more info about memory foam? Read Mattress Inquirer’s in-depth review

Minimizing Memory Foam Mattress Odors

To minimize any potential odors or discomfort, you can also follow a few guidelines after buying a memory foam bed. The best way to reduce odors is to unpack the mattress and remove all plastics as soon as you receive it. If you cannot air out your bedroom very well and the mattress has a strong smell, you may wish to set it in a garage or arable room for a few days with plenty of circulating air and ventilation. If the mattress cover is removable, take it off or unzip it to allow the foam to breathe. Don’t move the mattress into your bedroom until the odor has dissipated enough to no longer bother you.

Memory foam remains the highest rated mattress category overall in terms of owner satisfaction due to advantages like the ability to contour to sleepers, pressure point relief and support for natural alignment. Although concerns about household chemicals and toxic ingredients are valid, when it comes to today’s mattresses, they are largely unsubstantiated. There is no research available that says memory foam is unsafe, and authorities like the EPA and ACC concur that finished polyurethane foam is non-toxic.

As a consumer, you can protect yourself and select a safe, healthier memory foam mattress by understanding the basic science behind memory foam, knowing what questions to ask retailers, and by knowing what ingredients (and claims) to avoid. Your bedroom needs to be a safe place, so keep an eye on what you put in it.

45 thoughts on “Memory Foam Mattresses: Are They Safe?

  1. Heather Lylyk


    I am looking at buying a fabric headboard, it is made in the US and contains polyester fill and polyurethane foam, it doesn’t specific anything else. I am not sure of the safety of this, what are your thoughts?

    1. Sleep Junkie Post author

      I would refer to the specific manufacturer of the headboard and ask the country of origin (I would be careful of foam from china) I would also ask if the foam they use is Certipur Certified. http://certipur.us/

  2. billie robinson

    i got a memoriefoamgel mattress on overstock I had a bad asthma attack right away it smells like mold to me I wake up every night about two with a bad headache my asthma is worse called the overstock people they gave me a75$ discount as u cannot send it back I’m on medicare can’t afford to buy a new one I’m stuck don’t buy if not at a store where u can return it B Robinson

  3. Bruce

    Ok i have bought two ikea foam mattresses with covers on them for kids bunk beds. It says model moshult. Foam is 88% polyurethane foam
    12% Blended fiber batting (70% rayonn 30% polyester)

    my son is 2 and having respiratory issues. Were trying to reduce environmental irrantants. My question is how safe are polyurethane foam in general? Is there better? And would wrapping it in quilts then a mattress cover help keep dangerous seapage away?

  4. Marean

    My Tempur pedic Contour delivered today & it’s 3:00 a.m. & I’m reading for the first time about this strong smell I’m experiencing. I had never heard of this & only researched the comfort of these type of mattresses. I’m not sure I can deal with this odor every night. I have 120 days to try it out.

  5. Rachel

    So we’re to assume that everything that’s made in the USA is safe. But then I noticed that for stuff like BPA, it was banned in all countries many years ago except in the USA and Canada. Polypropylene oxide fumigation of almonds is common in the USA, but it had been banned in other countries long ago. Those are just two examples of american products being unsafe. Are we to still assume that all made in the USA products are safe?

  6. Michael

    The danger is quite real – I can attest to it myself.
    While some people have an immediate, noticeable reaction, others do not – their exposure is much more dangerous since it is slow, as the toxin levels build up over time.
    In my case, slowly started developing symptoms of lower energy and mental cloudiness – these worsened until about 18 months later I developed a metabolic disorder, where I had become deficient in enzymes necessary for energy production. The problem was obvious to medical science, but the cause was not – the onset was so slow that I never made the connection (plus it did not affect my wife). It was not until 6 years later, when the possibility of my illness being linked to the mattress, that I made the connection and saw that the symptoms started right after purchase. Within a month of replacing the mattress I was fully healthy and symptom free.
    Since this time, I have met several others locally who have also had severe issues, and many were different – seizures, rashes, and fibromyalgia type pain – but all of these were cleared up after removing a polyurethane memory foam mattress.
    In short, just because you don’t have an immediate severe reaction, don’t assume that yours is safe.
    There are other natural alternatives – latex or soy-based memory foam, for example. I now use the latter, and to add insult to injury, it cost me far less than the original mattress.

  7. mz vertigo

    Bought a tempurpedic and within the first day had horrible headache and vertigo. I didn’t think it was the bed, and each night I slept in the bed the headache and vergito got worse until I was vomiting and not able to eat anymore. I ended up in the ER with IV drugs. I want to think it may have been the off gassing from the bed. Once the odor is gone, will my headache and vertigo stop? Not sure, too scared to sleep on the bed again.

  8. Mary

    I just bought a new memory foam mattresses cover and a few memory foam pillows and put them on our bed and we were asleep only 1-1/2 hours when my husband woke up with very bad pain in his eyes and short of breath . We went to the hospital where they treated him for an allergic reaction.

  9. France's Dingli

    Have had Tempurpedic since January. About month ago started to get dull ache on right side. Wake up now after only three hours of sleep in pain. Switched to sleeping on old mattress in another bedroom and I sleep all night. How long do gasses last. I alternated sleeping on the memory foam mattress with 3 hours of sleep each time. Followed by at least 2 days on the old mattress. No severe pain when I awake after a full night of sleep. Doctor told me to get urine tested. Read that gasses would appear in urine. Have not gotten tested but will today. It seems to me that the gasses remain for a long time. Is there an answer to this problem?

    1. Michael

      They remain for a very long time. I was being affected 6 years later.
      Remove the $#@% thing, get a natural alternative. You’ll be VERY glad that you did.

    2. Naj

      We bought a King size Tempurpedic Rhapsody Breeze on Dec 13th and 16 days later it is still emitting a strong smell. The salesperson at Mattress Firm never mentioned the smell issue and unfortunately we didn’t research it before buying. We slept on it the first three nights and it was firm but comfortable, however, the smell is so strong that we are now forced to sleep in the guest room. I’ve been leaving all 3 windows in the room open during the day to air it out and walking on the mattress daily to break it and open the cells! Their customer service recommended leaving a bowl of baking soda and sliced green apples in the room to absorb the odor!! I am now seriously considering returning it and buying an organic mattress. Any one recommend a good bed?

      1. Sleep Junkie Post author


        We do have an organic and natural mattress comparison as well if you’d like to learn about these type of beds. All-organic latex foam with organic wool and cotton make excellent, well-rated beds and is among the cleanest type of bed you can get, though the cost is typically higher than memory foam.

        Thanks for reading!

  10. b b

    Are memory foam/gel really dangerous and do they lose their benefits after 3-4 years?
    I am debating between an Essentia 8″ mattress and a 10″ gel infused foam mattress from Galaxy for about 1/3 the price.
    How long after laying on a mattress should i know if it will be good for me. Where else cam I research these products?

  11. Joyce Forster

    Within days of my optimum mattress being placed on our bed I have a terrible itchy rash on the outsides of both legs(I’m a side sleeper). My Dr. seems to lean toward it being the new mattress after elimination of other factors. Is there anything in this mattress that could cause a skin reaction? I’m no longer sleeping on the mattress (doing an experiment) to see if it could be the problem. Please respond and let me know. I miss my mattress! The only info I found on our mattress is Optimum SN340528081080

    1. SOphie

      Exact same thing happen to me after buying a zed bed memory foam mattress. I had severe rashes all over my body, I could not sleep anymore. I returned the mattress after 30 days and bought a traditional mattress with no foam whatsoever and no chemicals and have been sleeping well ever since. I had also bought memory foam pillows and returned them. They were for my kids and just the thought of them sleeping on “an ocean” of chemicals made me sick!!! Never again, those mattresses should be banned! Our society is crazy to accept this!

    2. D Roberts

      I get red rash and very itchy from contact with latex. Cannot wear any type latex gloves (even if they’re lined) and have to inform medical personnel so they don’t use anything containing latex. If I blow up balloons I can get possible anaphylactic shock. Some laytex may have been used in the foam. You could try wearing some latex gloves for a short period of time to see if you have any reaction.

  12. Joan Clark

    For many years I have heard Temperpedic was an excellent mattress. Three weeks ago, I purchased one and it is still off-gasing. I never had this problem with my I-comfort mattress. The temperpedic website states I am in a small majority but I am very happy I bought my mattress from a company that will allow me to exchange it after 30 days. The off-gasing has been a serious problem with my temperpedic.

  13. mindonna

    My husband and i bought a tempurpedic memory foam several years ago. I now sleep in a different room with a non memory foam traditional mattress. I no longer wake up caughing and with rib and chest pain. Whether either were caused from 1 the lack of my weight being able to break my side in to my body form and shape and/or 2 the consistant odor that still to this day persists, i do not know. I would not recommend a memory foam to any one that is sensitive to orders/chemicals or does not have enough body weight to break it in or as i was told when i bought it activate the foam. My husband wakes up hacking his lungs out every morning he has always caughed in the morning but we are both smokers so who knows if his is associated the the Tempurpedic memory foam.

    Min H

  14. steve brackstone

    I just bought a memory foam topper which when first arrived had the smell that you described. After a week of using it my wife and me both have check coughs and sinuses effects. I believe the reason why there in not many complaint is due to people knowledge of these chemicals in memory foam. We will always have a higher statistics of good experiences as people love to say how good a product is when first purchased before trying for several week.

    An independent study is required for this to be truly understood as to the health concerns with memory foam but this would involve a lot of money that a government body will not want to pay. A study by the manufacturers will always be questionable to how bias it is.

  15. lynn trumble

    A member of my family recently purchased a new sofa through Amer. Furniture Warehouse. They wanted a sleeper type and for an extra amt. they could get the “memory foam” for the mattress portion of the fold out bed. I am concerned that it may be toxic and outgas too much. How do they know such? How long to out gas before more tolerant? It is comfortable and thought a better option, but now unsure.

  16. andy


    i bought a kingsize memory foam sprung mattress the chemical smell from its bad and cant help thinking its toxic only good thing other than not bad sleep but smell is overwelming .


  17. George Hunter


    We have a Tempur superking size mattress, Queen pillows and 2 travel Tempur mattresses, my wife came out in bltches all over her face which the doctor has reassured us that this is not an allergic reaction to food but is possibly due to some chemical allergy, as it was only on her face and neck we checked out the pillow and pillow case…the pillow has partially degraded….it was manufactured in 2007 can you advise what chemicals are released when the tempur foam breaks down.

    Best Regards

    George Hunter

  18. Niyati

    Some information on the IKEA mattress:

    The mattress has a cover on it and here is the company description of the product:

    Ticking: 50 % polyester, 50 % viscose/rayon
    Ticking: 64 % polyester, 36 % cotton
    Ticking: 64 % cotton, 36 % polyester
    Comforter filling/ Part 3: Polyester/viscose (rayon) fiber wadding
    Lining/ Part 04: Non-woven polypropylene
    Part 05: High-resilience polyurethane foam (cold foam) 2.2 lb/cu.ft.
    Part 06: Polyurethane foam 1.7 lb/cu.ft.

  19. Niyati


    We just bought an Ikea Morgedal foam mattress in the full size for my 2 year old. It felt great in the store because it was so firm and my son sleeps well on a firm surface. However, when we unpacked the rolled mattress, it had a terrible smell. It’s winter time so I could only leave the window open for an hour before it got too cold. It’s been a day and the smell is less intense now but it’s still there. I moved the mattress out of the room but the smell is still lingering. I am very worried that the mattress is unsafe, especially since my son is borderline asthmatic. Am I right to be concerned or should move the mattress to a more ventilated area and wait a few more days?

    Thank you!

  20. paul

    We purchased a memory foam mattress for our daughter, ever since the mattress has been in the house we have been dizzy short of breath it has made me
    sick, it is full of very toxic chemicals . the lasting memory of this purchace well be tossed out the door and I hope I can get my money back good luck


  21. Daniel

    Please DO NOT lump tempur-pedic in with the other “memory foam” mattresses…
    Take it from an industry expert, you have No idea what is in Tempur material. You are speculating.
    There is absolutely NO off gassing with Tempurpedic! It is not your typical poly foam.
    Did you know that over 18% of warranty calls that come in to Tempurpedic are not actually for tempurpedic products???
    Tempurpedic is completely safe, and one of the most amazing companies in the world… Don’t believe me? In 2013 Tempurpedic had an overall 92% satisfaction rating according to black stone. That is the highest rating of ANY manufactured product in the WORLD! Even Apple is just 87%.
    Do yourself a BIG favor and go buy the most highly recommended bed in the world.

    1. Rom

      Purchased a tempurpedic memory foam. The odor was so strong and noticeable and we had to let the bed off gas for over a month before we could sleep on it. No expert in the world could have walked into the room and told me there wasnt an odor.

    2. Lynn

      The Tempurpedic has made my husband and I both extremely ill after just one night on the foam topper. My husband ended up in the ER with his whole body broken out in a rash! So, we may not know what is in it, but do know that it is NOT safe!!!!!!

  22. Jessica

    Hi, I just bought the Homedics by Sinomax SmartFoam 3″ memory foam topper and the Homedics by Sinomax Puregel Memory Foam Pillow but am not sure if it is safe. I got it from Walmart. […].

    I purchased these because they were on a close-out holiday price, but when I opened them this evening there was a strong chemical smell.

    Is this product safe? I sent the company an email since Sinomax is actually the manufacturer. I’m having trouble finding any information on the packaging. Also, it was imported from China.

    Thank you for your expertise on this!

    1. Sleep Junkie Post author

      Hi there,

      Sinomax foams are Certi-Pur certified as of 2010, which means they can’t include the major chemicals of concern such as methylene chloride, CFCs, PBDEs, etc., and also must meet a minimum threshold for VOC levels. If they were manufactured after 2010, the products you bought should be safe in terms of dangerous chemicals. If the smell is off-putting, try leaving the items to air out in a well ventilated space for several days. Wal-mart’s return policy is typically fairly generous, so if you feel the smell isn’t going away or are concerned about safety, that’s always an option, too. Hope this helps!

  23. Vivian

    Hello, thanks for all your info, it can be quite scary reading about all the chemicals! I never thought of all this, we purchased a memory foam mattress ( primo international ocean breeze). I never realized these aspects so I didn’t really research of gassing etc and chemicals used in manufacturing. Now that I have read this I am somewhat freaked out! We were so focused on motion isolation and we loved the feel of the mattress. Am I correct in realizing that off gassing takes different amount of times depending on the mattress and that all mattress have chemicals in them due to fire regulations? Also as your research said the chemicals are inert in finished product which means I shouldn’t be absorbing a toxic soup? My husband made a point that these mattresses have been around a long time and although there is not much research, if they were so toxic Canada and the US would have banned them. Is this a correct assumption? Hoping you can ease my fears a bit as I love the feel of the mattress.

    1. Sleep Junkie Post author

      Hi There!

      Off-gassing peaks when foams are new, and gradually fades. Almost all mattresses will have some types of chemicals, but the EPA does say that finished foams are inert and do not pose a serious danger to people. If the mattress does not have strong odors or you are not feeling side effects, than it likely is not something to be very worried about (only a small percentage of people report issues). It is true that both polyurethane and memory foams have been used for decades now with no major problems. The fire retardants are a newer issues (since 2007) but many brands are conscious of consumer concerns and use fiber barriers rather than chemical retardants. Ultimately, if you like your mattress and don’t have any adverse reactions, there is likely nothing to worry about. Hope this helps!

  24. sebastian

    i bought a mattress which has me preoccupied, because of the polyurethane, can some one tell me how bad are this chemicals for my 5 year old boy

    81 % polyurethane foam pad
    10 % foam pad ( 100 % viscoelastic polyurethane)
    9 % blended textile fiber batting
    (40% rayon, 40 % cotton, 20 %polyester

    than you.

    1. Sleep Junkie Post author


      Polyurethanes can be made from different ingredients with varying levels of outgassing, but it looks like the bed you bought uses a fiber batting barrier which is good. The most important thing would be to let the mattress breathe after buying and not put in the room until there’s no detectable odor since kids can be more sensitive to the stronger smells (if it had one when new). You could also try an organic or natural mattress protector which would place an additional barrier between your child and the bed if you are concerned (this would also help keep the bed in good condition).

    2. Sheila Merritt

      I am an environmental doctor and I can tell you that the toxic chemicals remain even after the smell is gone. In susceptible persons, headaches, fatigue, allergies, mood disorders can be an issue. Do not believe the stores or the EPA. It’s a disaster.

  25. Debra Doering

    Just wondering if buying a visco elastic memory foam mattress would it help as far as toxin gasses to put a cover on the mattress?

    1. Sleep Junkie Post author

      Hi there,

      It’s always smart to use a mattress cover regardless as they can help prevent stains and debris from accumulating in the bed and prevent accidents and spills from causing damage. A mattress cover or all-over encasement could help minimize odors, but you’d want to look for a cover that itself does not have a strong odor, as some of the ones with plastic or urethane backings could have smells, as well (there are natural and organic covers out there though). Just make sure the mattress has a chance to air out before adding the cover if the smell is a concern for you. Thanks for reading!

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