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Hidden hazards – is your mattress making you sick?

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A healthy sleep environment is crucial to our well being and overall health. We spend a significant amount of time in our lives (about 8 hours every single night) sleeping on our mattress. We therefore rely heavily on our mattresses to help us get a good night’s sleep, to ultimately be life giving and supportive to our body and our overall health. We should be restoring and replenishing ourselves during the night so that we have vitality, energy and health during our daytime activities. After all, that is what sleep is meant for; to fully restore and repair.

We understand just how crucial a proper and decent night’s sleep is. So why are many of us not feeling energetic, well rested or are still feeling tired after 8 hours? The answer may lie in the mattress we sleep on. 

It would make sense that it should be made of the utmost quality. Quality would mean that it is good for our bodies, not just in terms of materials – but most importantly, of a quality that is health giving and supportive. Unfortunately, for many mattresses on the market this may not be the case. The main issues with mattresses I have found to be a) the materials used contain fire retardant VOCs and b) the frame and structure of the mattress – where springs/coils are common.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

What are VOCs? VOCs are petroleum based chemicals that are harmful to health. They are commonly found in mattresses that contain synthetic materials, especially common in polyurethane foam. They are also found in other furniture such as car interiors, carpets and sofas.

The materials which top as the worst culprit materials used in mattresses are:

Synthetic foam: used in mattresses as a cheap and lightweight filler. It is highly flammable on its own, so therefore relies on VOCs to make it flame resistant. The harmful chemicals break down over time – losing 50% of its weight over a decade. Where does the weight go? Apparently, it is released into the air you breathe. 1

Synthetic latex: if it is not stated as ‘100% natural latex’, then synthetic latex is being used. It is a much more economical process to manufacture synthetic latex than harvesting natural latex from the natural rubber tree (Hevea-Brasiliensis). The problem with the synthetic kind is that petroleum compounds styrene and butadiene are added to the material. Once again, these are VOCs that are a risk to health. 2

Vinyl: is used for waterproofing mattresses, even cot mattresses. If the mattress is being marketed as being waterproof, chances are vinyl is being used. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is known to be toxic to humans and animals. The process of making vinyl also releases dioxins, which are some of the most potent carcinogens ever tested. 3

Memory Foam:

Authorities and manufacturers state that memory foam is safe, but can we really trust this? Apparently, traditional memory foam mattresses may have over 61 chemicals used throughout its process. Some of these include Acetone, Dimethylformamide, Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, Methyl chloroform, Methylenedianiline, Vinilideine chloride, Trichloroethane – all stated as being carcinogenic additives. * Memory foam is made up of many layers and requires adhesive to build the final product.
The bulk ingredient of memory foam is made from petroleum based ingredients. Manufacturers don’t usually tell us what they’re made of, usually calling it a ‘trade secret’. Whilst this may be beneficial for the manufacturer, the consumer is unaware as to whether their mattress is really a safe place to sleep on. 4

Synthetic materials are required by law to contain fire retardants, to prevent it burning in case of a fire. This is why they are found in mattresses, to comply with government standards.  And by the way… these chemicals are not required by law to be disclosed to the public. Manufacturers don’t need to tell us that their products contain these toxic chemicals.

There are many chemicals used that form part of these VOCs.

In a study completed by the University of Texas at Austin found as much as 30 different compounds specifically in infant cot mattresses.They found that new mattresses emitted more VOCs than older ones. (87.1 micrograms per square meter per hour compared to 22.1 micrograms per square meter per hour). 5

Some of these VOCs are comprised of:Formaldehyde: used as an adhesive to hold mattresses together and also as a preservative, it is stated as being ‘carcinogenic to humans’. 6

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): a flame retardant, stated as being ‘one of the world’s most toxic chemicals’ especially found in polyurethane foam. According to the EPA, PBDEs may cause liver, thyroid, and neurodevelopmental toxicity. 7

Toluene: a ‘neurotoxin’ that may cause liver and kidney damage and birth defects, amongst many other ailments and diseases. It is found off gassing from polyurethane foam. 8

Benzene: long term exposure has been linked to cancer, specifically leukemia. 9

Acetone: breathing moderate-to-high levels of acetone for short periods of time can cause nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation. High level exposure can cause death, coma, unconsciousness, seizures, and respiratory distress. 10

Do we really want to be breathing in these toxic chemicals night after night, knowing of their hazards to health? 

Want a guarantee that your mattress is safe from toxic chemicals and VOCs? Investing in an organic mattress like 100% natural latex or organic cotton will ensure that your mattress is safe from toxic chemicals and VOCs.

The Problem with Innerspring Mattresses

Coils and Metal Attracting and Amplifying AC Voltages

VOCs may not be the only issue prevalent with mattresses. R. Douglas Fields, Ph. D. points it out in his article Left-sided Cancer: Blame your bed and TV? that the rise in cancers and melanomas in the Western culture may be caused by innerspring mattresses. Mattresses with springs act as giant antennas that capture and then amplifiy electromagnetic radiation from TV and FM transmissions that would normally be harmless in lower emissions. This field accumulates in the centre of the mattress (75cm above the body). So, apparently if you sleep on the right side, the left side of the body will cop the heightened radiation. In turn, shutting down the immune system means cancers and diseases can occur. 11

Independent studies analysing the rise in cancers between Western countries, Japan and Sweden. These studies were completed over 3 decades in Sweden by Örjan Hallberg of Hallberg Independent Research and Ollie Johansson of The Karolinska Institute. They suggest that sleeping habits hold the answer to this conundrum.

People in Japan don’t have innerspring mattresses, instead they sleep on futons on the floor and their FM bandwidth is of a lower range (76–93MHz) compared to Western countries (87–108MHz). Their cancer levels are much lower, and the researchers suggest that this could be because they don’t sleep on innerspring mattresses. In Western culture, cancer and melanomas have significantly risen. could one of the reasons be because we sleep on metal for a third of our lifetime? 12

There can also be problems related to metal bed frames in amplifying EMF. Dr Mercola recommends to stay away from metal beds and frames. He states that they can amplify and distort the earth’s natural magnetic fields. This can cause headaches, hyperactivity, eyestrain, depression, fatigue, nightmare and muscle cramps. 13

Steven Magee, the author of ‘Toxic Electricity’, experiments with coiled mattress in his videos on youtube. I find his research very convincing, especially when he personally demonstrates how coiled mattresses behave with voltages and ambient signals, using his own equipment. One video shows the mattress acting as a giant antenna, picking up AM radio stations and flicking through them.

Again, in another two of his videos, he demonstrates how electricity affects a mattress, acting as an antenna to the AC electrical system. He attaches an oscilloscope to the bed spring itself by cutting open the mattress, which is connected to an oscilloscope probe. The probe is grounded by attaching it to a grounding wire to his garden outside. By this setup, he can detect the voltages present in the mattress. He shows us frequency spikes (which can be harmful) throughout the frequency spectrum via the oscilloscope, explaining that our bodies will be absorbing these voltage spikes via the mattress during the night. Changing between kilohertz and megahertz per division, still shows us the spikes. He also shows us the predominant waveform, which is significantly larger than normal. Switching on the power to the room makes these spikes worse.
He states: “AC voltage frequencies couple in through distance in metal objects.” Therefore, metal mattresses will pick up voltages found in house wiring (in the bedroom and the rest of the house) and will amplify them. 14

If you can turn off the house wiring to the house whilst sleeping (or at the very least just the bedroom) would make sense, especially if sleeping on a coiled mattress or metal frame. The only problem I find is that if you have fridges, they need to be on during the night!

Distorted Magnetic Fields

In another video, Steven Magee demonstrates his compass changing direction as he scans it across the mattress. This is evidence showing that the natural magnetic field of the earth is interrupted by the field created by the coils and metals in the mattress. When the magnetic fields are distorted, so are the frequencies that penetrate our systems. These altered frequencies are un-natural to our body’s natural ones, causing harm to health by shutting down the immune system. 15

Comparing mattresses with a large amount of cushioning to one with the least amount of cushioning shows us that the interruption between magnetic fields is more pronounced on the one with the least amount of padding. Magee says that the thicker the padding on the mattress, the more protection it will give the user from these signals.

It is known in the field of geopathic stress that incorrect frequencies coming from the earth (and caused by various factors) can weaken our systems so that they are more prone to cancer and other diseases. Gustav Freiherr von Pohl, a German scientist in 1929, theorised that one will not develop cancer unless they sleep on geopathic stress lines. He devised a scale between 1-16 and stated that any stress lines above 9 were cancer inducing.  To support his theory, a test was undertaken which involved the supervision of council and police officials. Firstly, he marked out the stress lines on a map of a small town in Bavaria. The town was new to him and he was isolated from others so there was no chance of influence. Doctors then compared his stress locations on the map to where the cancer patients lived. These findings were compelling and backed up his theories – all the cancer patients indeed lived on these stress lines. 16

Is it possible that many people may have these negative geopathic stress lines running through their bedroom? Perhaps they are being picked up and amplified by metal bed frames and coiled mattresses?


Hazards may not always be directly seen with the naked eye. Could coiled mattresses be harming our health without us realising? It is up to all of us to keep an open mind and look at all sides of the picture. Questioning everything is important.

So, from VOCs to metal coils attracting and then amplifying electromagnetic radiation from TV and radio stations and AC voltages from house wiring; can we trust that our health is not being harmed as we sleep on our mattresses for eight hours every night?

Solutions? Invest in an organic non-metallic mattress and bedframe. If not, keep as many electrical appliances away from the sleeping area. Keep alarm clocks and mobile phones away from the bed. Switch off power to the house, or at least a portion of the house if possible.















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