How dangerous is Dacron off-gassing in a child's mattress?

Asked by Matt
Haymarket, VA

We just (as in - it's still on the truck being shipped to us) purchased an innerspring mattress that billed itself as organic for my 4 yr old son. The mattress is made from organic cotton and wool and has a thin layer of Dacron surrounding the innerspring coils. Before I purchased the mattress, I asked the salesperson about the materials in the mattress and he gave me the short list of materials. I was hesitant about Dacron because I'd never heard of it and it didn't sound like a natural product to me. The salesperson assured me that he'd researched Dacron and found that it isn't known to off-gas. He said that, in fact, he used to use yarn bound with glue as a coil cover in his mattresses, but couldn't get the yarn manufacturer to tell him what was in the glue so he switched to safer Dacron. I have since read that Dacron DOES off gas and I'm so disappointed. I would've bought a mattress without it for our son if I had known. Should I spend the mone<


Mary Cordaro

Answered by Mary Cordaro

Southern California Areas, CA

Mary Cordaro, Inc.

November 7, 2011

Dacron is a type of polyester, made for many uses, including fillers such as synthetic batting inside mattresses. It is made from petroleum product ingredients.

In this case, it sounds like the thin layer around the coils is Dacron filler or batting.

  • It is very difficult to make an inner spring mattresses with no synthetic batting or foam of any kind, because organic cotton and wool compress and don’t offer the comfort and resilience of polyether fills or polyurethane foam.
  • Because it is much more difficult to achieve a comfortable feel without some kind of synthetic fill or foam, or even natural latex, some organic mattress manufacturers are adding Dacron to their organic innerspring mattresses because it is inexpensive, very resilient and easy to work with.


When it is brand new, Dacron may outgas VOCs, which are gasses from chemicals that usually emit odors.

  • But VOCs from Dacron should dissipate quickly.
  • The outgassing is the result of the chemicals volatilizing at room temperature into a gas, which goes into the air and can be inhaled.

Some chemically sensitive people report that once Dacron is fully aired out or quite old, it no longer bothers them. Since, according to the distributor, there is very little Dacron in your child’s mattress, and if your child is not chemically sensitive, the outgassing will probably dissipate enough within a few days to a few weeks.

Put the mattress, completely uncovered and on it’s side, in a non-bedroom to air out for a few days, so that the VOCs can dissipate more quickly. Make sure there’s good airflow around the mattress and good air exchange in the room.

Ask the manufacturer

However, I suggest you go back to the manufacturer to ask the following

  1. Can you provide documentation or a statement from your supplier that the Dacron is not treated with any type of organophosphate flame-retardant chemicals?
  2. Can you provide documentation that the mattress passes the government required flammability test without any flame-retardants?

Here’s why: My concern with Dacron is less with potential VOCs, which will quickly dissipate given the thin layer, and more with possible SVOCs, or semi volatile organic compounds from flame-retardants made from toxic organophosphate chemicals. 


SVOCs from organophosphate flame-retardants do not have an odor, and they never go away over time.

And mattresses made with even just a small amount of synthetic materials will often not pass government flammability testing without organophosphate flame retardants.

SVOCs from flame-retardants do not become a gas at room temperature that
eventually dissipates.

  • Instead, as the product breaks down over time, the flame retardant chemicals release from the source for the life of the product, and stick to dust, which is inhaled.
  • Most mattress manufacturers have voluntarily discontinued one type of flame retardant called PBDE, which is a highly toxic brominated organophosphate flame retardant.
  • However, if a flame retardant is necessary, due to polyurethane, polyether, or other synthetic ingredients in the mattress, it may not pass flammability testing without some type of organophosphate flame retardant.
  • This is certainly true of conventional, synthetic mattresses.

I recommend avoiding organophosphate flame retardants of any kind

Some green chemistry scientists state that the non-brominated and non- chlorinated flame-retardants are of little or no concern from a health standpoint, and treated mattresses may not readily release organophosphate chemicals. 

However, the German scientists from the field of Bau-Biologie consider any type of organophosphate flame retardant as potentially toxic, whether it is brominated, chlorinated, or not, and that any type of organophosphate flame-retardants may be potentially released from the product and inhaled with dust.

So although many mattress manufacturers no longer use PBDE, one of the most toxic of organophosphate flame-retardants, I recommend not purchasing a mattress with any organophosphate flame retardant of any kind.

Look for latex or flame retardant free Dacron

Hopefully the manufacturer of your child’s mattress uses flame-retardant free Dacron, and passes the government flammability tests without any flame- retardants. But double-check to be sure.

And in the future, purchase either organic natural latex mattresses, or 100% natural organic inner spring mattresses, made with only wool, cotton, and/or no foam or fillers other than natural latex instead of Dacron.

A completely natural mattress made from organic and/or chemical free materials is preferable.


For more information:

Read Greenpeace's Consuming Chemicals Report here and Greenpeace's House Dust 2 Report here

Also, check the Sick Dust Report here.

Tagged In: organic mattress

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.