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Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe?

Posted by Aaron Cain on
Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe?

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so have you ever stopped to wonder if the memory foam mattress you're sleeping on is actually safe? It's a legitimate concern, but here at Muse Sleep we want to put you at ease and present you with the facts so that you can rest easy at night.  

To begin, it's important to note that there simply isn't a completely chemical-free mattress. It doesn't exist. However, you can learn more about the composition of your mattress and understand how to identify a mattress that's safe for you and your family by reading the guidelines below. 

How is Memory Foam Made? 

While NASA contractors were the first to apply memory foam to cushions for comfort in the 1960s, it wasn't utilized to make mattresses until 1991. The cushy surface we've all come to know and love is made by combining flexible polyurethane foam, a polymer material that is a byproduct of petroleum, with other ingredients to produce a reaction. To create the desired reaction and produce memory foam, a blowing agent must be introduced. The blowing agent is, well, blown into the mixture to create foam that is both supportive and soft.  

Flexible polyurethane foam is used to create dozens of products in the bedding, furniture and automotive industry that you interact with on a daily basis, including your couch and the seats in your car. 

The exact composition of memory foam differs from one manufacturer to the other. It's often a trade secret because the unique composition is what changes the feel and the density of the foam. For example, to create the Muse mattress in three different firmness options, our product engineers had to manufacture three different types of foam to give the middle layer of each firmness a different feel and density. 

What Causes the Memory Foam Smell? 

When unwrapped, some new memory foam mattresses will experience off-gassing, which is the smell that can occur when volatile organic compounds, aka VOCs, break down in the atmosphere. If your nose is sensitive to other off-gassing smells like fresh paint, you may want to air out your mattress in a separate room before sleeping on it.  

Is Memory Foam Flame Retardant?  

The United States requires that all mattresses must be able to endure an open flame for a certain period of time. So, in other words, federal guidelines require that your bed be fireproof up to a certain temperature just in case a candle falls onto your bed or you happen to be smoking in bed. If you've ever removed the mattress cover from your memory foam bed, you'll see that the fire sock covers the foam.  

In the past, not all flame-retardant materials used were safe, but lucky for us, Uncle Sam stepped in and eliminated certain ingredients, like PBDEs, that were known to cause health issues. Today, penta and octaBDE, two of the most common PBDEs are no longer even made in the United States.  

What Should You Look for When Buying? 

When shopping for a new memory foam mattress, there are two things you should look for: a mattress made in the United States and a mattress that uses CertiPUR-US® certified foams. 

An American-Made Mattress 

Beyond supporting American manufacturing, you should buy a mattress made in the America because the US has stricter regulations when it comes to chemicals. If it's not clear where a mattress is made, reach out to the manufacturer and ask.  

CertiPUR-US® Certified Foams 

Of course, as we stated above, you won't find a mattress that doesn't contain chemicals, but you can greatly reduce your exposure by buying a mattress that has been certified by Certi-PUR®. In order to obtain this certification, manufacturers must go through a rigorous testing process to ensure that the foam they're using contains few or no harmful VOCs; is made without PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (all chemicals used in flame retardants), phthalate and, formaldehyde; and does not contain mercury, lead or other heavy materials. To determine if the mattress you're researching is CertiPUR-US® certified, look for the logo on the brand's website or search for the brand here

If you're searching for a memory foam mattress that's safe, made in America and CertiPUR-US® certified, learn more about the Muse mattress here.  

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