Does Your Mattress Have Toxins? NO. The Truth Behind Wild Claims.


If you’ve driven around the Nora area in Indianapolis recently, you’ve perhaps seen some black and white billboards popping up talking about “toxins” in mattresses. I’ve gotten a lot of messages from friends and family since these advertisements launched. Some full of confusion, some questioning our products as a result, etc.

I want to address the claims of the billboard campaign, and identify what I consider some to be some pretty appalling assumptions being made this company, which is using scare tactics as a method of marketing.

Here’s the bottom line of it all, though: Even if you don’t have an organic mattress, it does not mean that your mattress is toxic.

Foam uses crude oil as an ingredient, but that doesn’t mean your mattress literally has oil in it.

This isn’t the most important point, but let’s get this out of the way. Polyurethane foam does derive from crude oil. The foam industry has never hidden from that. However, just because oil is an ingredient in the product, does not mean that the product is toxic. Likewise, just because you bought a doll for your daughter which uses plastic that derives from crude oil does not mean that the doll is toxic.

For reference, this link does a good job explaining lots of common products that use oil in some degree - notably: clothing, every electronic device, tupperware, food storage, toys, etc., etc. Note, those are not considered toxic products.

Below is a diagram that Foamcraft, Inc. has used for years to help educate customers on the process and dynamics of the building blocks for polyurethane foam.

Foam is not a toxic material in mattresses. Organic Mattresses are different, but not any less toxic than foam.

I don’t want to get too technical, so here’s the bottom line. By the time a mattress is made, crude oil is ancient history. There are several steps in the process to even get the chemicals needed for the foam manufacturers (polyol, TDI, and MDI). They may come from crude oil, but in the same way that you don’t eat flour when you eat bread, you’re not sleeping on oil when you sleep on foam.

Comfort Option’s foams are Certi-Pur Certified, which ensures they do NOT contain “toxins.”

If a foam is complaint with Certi-Pur (which all of Comfort Option’s are), all of those processes mentioned above, and the chemicals used in those processes, were totally VOID of all of the following:

  1. Ozone Depleters. Based on the Montreal Protocol, which was adopted in 1987, no chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are used in the foam manufacturing process.

  2. PBDEs, TDCPPs, or “Tris” flame retardants. In 2013 the state of California went wild against the use of FR chemicals in cushioning foams, claiming the chemicals necessary were, in fact, toxic, and contained potential carcinogens. All of those chemicals are gone and actually were gone well before 2013.

  3. Mercury and Lead. Easy enough here. Lead is poisonous, too much mercury can be a bad thing. Foam doesn’t have any.

  4. Formaldehyde. This is a chemical that’s been labeled as a cause of poor indoor air quality. Certi-Pur runs an emission test. Our foam doesn’t have any.

  5. Phthalates as regulated by the CPSC. This is a hard word to say, but they’re used as a softening agent in some consumer products, so certainly something to consider with foams and fabrics. The CPSC removed them in 2009 for use in children’s products. Certi-Pur goes a step further by requiring lab analysis of foam extractions in ALL foam products.

  6. Low VOC emmissions. This is a BIG one. VOCs are a major component of air pollution. Also, they don’t usually have an odor. This means if you have a foam mattress that has a scent to it, that doesn’t mean it’s toxic. Consider it like a new car smell. It will dissipate over time. Certi-Pur foams have been tested to ensure that all foams have less than 0.5 parts per million emissions. They’re safe. Which means all of the articles claiming that mattresses have VOCs and toxic odors are not scientifically valid - unless they relate to mattress that are not Certi-Pur certified.

Bottom line: Foam Mattresses are not toxic, just like Organic Mattresses are not toxic.

In closing, you can rest easy if you currently own a mattress that has foam in it, regardless of what you see on Billboards or certain websites that promote organic beds. You can also rest assured that if you’re shopping for a mattress, you don’t have to eliminate foam as an option.

Foam provides some of the best pressure relief of any material in the world. Simultaneously, it actually can perform better than springs in terms durability and support. Recent technological advances have helped maintain cooling properties for foam. Foam works. We can customize one for you and prove it.

And, just make sure we’re clear, foam is not toxic.

Feel free to contact us for more information.