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Detox the Bedroom for Healthier Sleep

Due to the unique qualities and numerous applications of polyurethane foam, it can be found in many different places in the home; the list can include furniture, mattresses, walls, under carpets, and even in personal gear such as helmets, shoes and mattresses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that long-term exposure to polyurethane foam may cause cancer, infertility and miscarriages, autoimmune issues, neurological disorders, child behavior issues, allergies and asthma.

The chemical fumes, or off-gassing, that we often smell in new products containing polyurethane foam are called volatile organic compounds (VOC) and have been shown in EPA studies to attach themselves to dust particles. When inhaled, the dust—with its chemical riders—enters the lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream.

There are different answers as to why this is still so widespread, but arguably the main one is that in its solid form, polyurethane foam only releases a relatively minute amount of toxicity into the air. This means that only long-term exposure that lasts for many years will have any noticeable effect.

Besides its ubiquitous use in everyday products, polyurethane is also a main ingredient in virtually every mattress in the U.S.; because of this, it is nearly impossible to isolate sleeping on polyurethane as the cause of any significant increase in cancer and other chemically induced illnesses. Without a proven causal relationship between spending eight hours a day inches away from polyurethane and health issues, there is no way to regulate its use in mattresses.

The first step in limiting VOC exposure in the home is sleeping on a polyurethane-free mattress. According to federal law, the contents of a mattress must be displayed on its law label sewn onto the back of the mattress. We can easily determine the contents of our current mattress by reviewing the contents listed on this tag. For those interested in sleeping in a chemical-free environment, simply make sure polyurethane is not listed as an ingredient on any mattress.

Dave Spittal is the owner of Healthy Choice Organic Mattress, located on 21 South Ave in New Canaan. Connect at 203-920-1244 or HCMattress.com. See ad, page 7.

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