Question

Can gasses from a memory foam mattress have an effect on fertility?

Asked by Milla
San Diego, CA

I am 30 and hoping to get pregnant for the first time soon, but since I started using a memory foam mattress topper my periods are scanty and irregular. My current job exposes me to many other toxins, cosmic radiation and EMF. I'm getting a bit scared.

Answer

Kirsten Flynn

Answered by Kirsten Flynn

Palo Alto, CA

Sustainable Home

April 8, 2013

Dear Milla,

I do not have any knowledge of whether the chemicals in memory foam mattresses could affect your fertility. I am not a doctor nor have I done research into the medical body of knowledge. However I have my opinions!

Chemicals of concern

There are a fair number of chemicals that are known to be part of the memory foam manufacturing process that seem to be of concern.

A couple of the chemicals related to memory foam are associated with respiratory irritation and central nervous system effects: Methylene Chloride and Toluene.

Both of these chemicals seem to be airway irritants, and have neurological effects. Methylene Chloride is also a suspected carcinogen. The bulk of exposure would be to those that work in the manufacturing of this foam, but there are many reports of strong chemical smell coming from memory foam. I am concerned that this smell is Toluene Diisocyanate, a common component of foam that the EPA is quite concerned about (more here), and a VOC. In all fairness, some scientists say that the smell coming off of a memory foam mattress, although not pleasant, is not dangerous. I personally tend to err on the side of caution in most cases.

As if that were not enough to worry about, memory foam, like any product made of petroleum, can burn. Therefore they are enclosed in a fire barrier cloth which also can contain chemicals.

Ok, enough with the bad news, I have depressed you completely at this point, and this is not my goal. Although you seem to have had a reaction to them, most of the chemicals I have mentioned do not mention reproductive harm. So although they are not healthy, they probably are not affecting your fertility.

My recommendations

Here is what I would do if I were you.

  • Get rid of the memory foam.
  • You know that chemicals used in its manufacture might not be good for you, and you think that the change in your periods happened when you got it. Red flag, I would get rid of it.
  • Replace it with one of the many, many green options available to you.

I love the amount of research put into European Sleepworks mattresses. If you like the feeling of a memory foam, Esseentia is a company that is making a safe, natural rubber latex based memory foam type mattress. Here is an article about it. If you like the feel of a conventional innerspring mattress, I love McCroskey - they are a high quality hand made innerspring option. A more reasonable option would be Lifekind, which uses organic wool as a fire retardant, and is stringent about using only organic materials. They are a great company. There also is a company near you in Southern CA called Palmpring that uses coconut coir as it's resilient layer, and natural latex to add softness, for a mattress that is entirely made of natural materials.

Finally, do everything you can to eliminate any chemical that might have a negative effect on your body. If you cannot change your work, ask if you can bring in a high quality air cleaner. I like Austin Air Healthmate. Get one at your home as well.

You know the rest, and are probably already doing your best, eat organic food, lots of fruits and veggies, drink lots of water (not out of plastic, because the Phthalates in plastics ARE endocrine disrupters).  

Hopefully you will be inviting us to your child's first birthday party soon.

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