Many of us have grown more conscious about avoiding pesticides in our food, and potentially harmful chemicals in our beauty products. Yet we spend eight hours every night—a third of our lives!—in close proximity to pillows, sheets, blankets and mattresses that have likely been doused with formaldehyde (a potential by-product of manufacturing), antimony (a heavy metal similar to arsenic) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers and organophosphates (also known as flame retardants).
A recent study by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) examining flame retardants has shown an elevated presence of these chemicals in children. Another study, published last year in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, found that levels of the flame retardant known as chlorinated Tris, or TDCIPP, rose fifteen-fold in adults from 2002 to 2015, and increased in children by a factor of four. The study aggregated data from 14 earlier studies and found that levels of another flame retardant, triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, also rose in adults. TDCP has been listed as a known carcinogen by the state of California and has been associated with altered hormone levels and diminished semen quality in men in previous studies.
According to the New York Times, “Polyurethane foam is made from petroleum, and that it can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to respiratory irritation and other health problems, according to both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
We spoke with Barry Cik, founder and technical director of Naturepedic Organic Mattresses (naturepedic.com) in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and a strong advocate of an organic lifestyle extending into the nighttime sanctuary, to find out why organic pillows, bedding and mattresses are so important.
“Mattresses made from organic cotton are a safer choice for people with sensitive skin, since they do not contain harsh chemicals,” says Cik of conventional mattresses treated with toxic chemical pesticides, harmful inks and dyes that sometimes contain heavy metals, and harsh chemical cleaners. “Mattresses using organic cotton have a breathable fabric, as opposed to synthetics that can trap heat and leave you feeling hot and sweaty.”
Barry Cik, founder and technical director of Naturepedic Organic Mattresses, shares reasons why it’s important to invest in organic bedding for the entire family.
1. Organic cotton uses less water and is grown without harmful pesticides, which is better for the planet and soil.
2. Organic bedding is made without harsh chemical additives like wrinkle resistant treatments that release formaldehyde.
3. Organic mattresses for babies and children help avoid exposure to toxins, especially important for their developing bodies.
4. Organic mattresses are not treated with flame retardants, commonly used in baby and kids’ products.
5. Organic cotton bedding is made without harsh dyes and colorants, which frequently contain heavy metal ingredients.
6. Organic cotton bedding is usually stronger and stands up to wear and tear better than conventional bedding, because chemical processing weakens the fiber.