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Unwrapping a new mattress may feel a bit like Christmas. You’re getting a new piece of furniture, one that most people don’t replace often enough. Unfortunately, rather than ripping the crinkly paper to unveil a gift, you may be greeted with an unpleasant smell. Most mattresses are sealed to keep them clean and safe, but opening this seal can often lead to a stench.
Although mattresses are an easy culprit to spot, many of the pieces of furniture in your may contribute to indoor air pollution. The chemicals used to create the furniture “off-gas” or release particles into your home. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens at high doses, but the effect of them being released in the low doses common in household products hasn’t been well studied. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the potency of chemicals off-gassed from your mattress and other pieces of furniture.
Indoor Air Pollution from Mattresses
The foul smell emanating from your new mattress comes from a mixture of chemicals. A 2005 investigation found 61 different chemicals in a memory foam mattress. Formaldehyde, benzene, and naphthalene are commonly found in mattress emissions. The modern mattress is a complex piece of furniture. It has flame retardants and proprietary support systems.
However, some companies have taken steps to reduce the number of chemicals off-gassed by mattresses. Some companies, like Saatva mattress, have designed their mattresses with materials that are less likely to create off-gassing problems. You can also look for beds that have the Greenguard certification or, even better, the Greenguard Gold certification. These certifications mark furniture that has met standards for low emissions. Another way to avoid chemicals is to look for mattresses that incorporate organic materials. These choices can help you lower the risk of air pollution in the house.
Steps to Improve Air Quality
No matter which bed you choose, it is probably still a healthy choice to air out the mattress before installing it in your bedroom. Airing out the mattress means leaving it outside or in a well-ventilated space. If you live in a rainy area or a small space, one possible solution is to ventilate the room as much as possible with fans, open windows, and doors. Maximize the fresh air to minimize the smelly chemical odors.
- There are further steps that you can take to improve the air quality in your home.
- Keep windows and doors open when possible. It may be a good idea to install screens to keep out insects.
- Select air-cleaning houseplants. Some plants can actually filter chemicals from the air. The Chinese Evergreen filters benzene and formaldehyde, so it may be a good choice while your mattress off-gasses.
- Use cleaners that are free of harsh chemicals and smells.
- Run fans, like ceiling fans and bathroom fans, when you are in the room. Buying a new mattress should be a celebration and not a scary encounter with chemical smells. You can minimize your exposure to the odors by purchasing a low off-gassing or organic mattress. Alternatively, you can air out your new bed in a well-ventilated room for a day or two to let the smell dissipate. Just make sure that you do something to protect the air quality in your home.
Author: Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.