In a new study, consumers are being warned that certain types of mattresses could be emitting chemicals. The study looked at a range of household products to see if they were giving off volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and found that mattresses scored highly.
The researchers from the American Chemical Society are now warning that these mattresses could pose a health risk, especially in children, babies and other vulnerable groups.
In order to determine the VOCs being emitted from mattresses, the researchers looked at eight different varieties of products. These ranged in size and included those that are designed for children, infant, and toddler beds.
All of the mattresses were polyurethane. The researchers tested them by putting small pieces of them into a flow chamber overnight and measuring the level of VOC that was emitted.
One of the main findings of the study was that the gases emitted by the mattresses affect the body much more, as when we are asleep, our faces our in closer contact to the material itself. This means that we end up breathing a higher quantity of the compounds.
It also found that higher levels of VOC are emitted at a higher temperature. And as when we are sleeping our body temperature increases, typically, higher levels are found in this time.
Of the eight mattresses that were tested, none stood out as higher risk than any of the others. But the researchers point out that VOC can cause headaches and skin irritation. In very high quantities, it can increase the risk of cancer; however, the quantities in mattresses are far too low for consumers to be concerned about that risk.
The researchers noted that the risks may be higher in children as they tend to be affected differently by inhaling VOC than adults. Although it’s not considered an immediate risk, they said that parents should be aware and that, hopefully, further research will be carried out in this area.