Its long been known that mattresses contain many chemicals that are questionable on the health and environment front. Now, all-natural and organic mattresses that promise to be chemical free are available, but with a hefty price tag. Some go for upwards of $5000. For most of us who can’t afford such a luxury there are some steps you can take to reduce your chemical exposure by looking to what is on your bed.
Many of the bed sheets, blankets, comforters, and duvets today also have chemicals in them, most notably formaldehyde. All sheets made of polyester and cotton blends, along with anything permanent press or wrinkle-free, most likely contain formaldehyde. Small amounts of this chemical do make the bedding anti-wrinkle, but have also been linked to cancer and respiratory illnesses, including asthma attacks. With the growing emergence of evidence that even small amounts of formaldehyde are hazardous to both health and the environment, we recommend going with a chemical free option (links to research can be found in footnotes). This is especially true with a newborn, as chemicals have more harmful effects on children than they do adults.
Surprisingly many of the options are very affordable. Target and a number of other retailers carry organic sheets at low prices, some as low as $24 for a twin set. Be careful with your selection however, a product labeled organic does not guarantee it is free of harmful chemicals. All organic means is that the cotton used to make the sheets was grown in an organic fashion (no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc..). Chemicals could have been added in the manufacturing process without an effect to the organic label. Having the cotton grown organically is great for the environment, but if chemicals were added during the manufacturing process, organic essentially means nothing to your health. Make sure the words chemical-free, formaldehyde-free, or a similar statement is present on the packaging or website for the product. This will ensure your actually getting a completely safe product.
I personally use bedding from Cuddledown, a company that manufactures and sells “Certified Eco-Friendly” bedding. Any of their products that have this eco-friendly logo uses organic cotton, contains no harmful chemicals and is dust-mite proof. The products are Oeko-Tex certified, which means they are independently tested to prove they do not contain any harmful chemicals or irritants. Additionally, they receive the Global Organic Textile Standard certification as well, which means “that no harmful chemicals were used from harvest through manufacture, waste is disposed of responsibly, and fair labor practices are enforced”. Honestly, there are many competitors around, but Cuddledown seems to have the highest standards I can find, and at decently affordable prices. I own a set of their organic sheets and an organic comforter protector for my down comforter, and have been satisfied with the quality overall.
There are other quality competitors out there, just make sure their products have the words chemical-free or similar, before you decide to make the purchase. This goes for all bedding, including comforters, pillows, sheet sets, blankets and the like. For a place you spend one-third of your life, its well worth the investment.
“About Cuddledown.” Cuddledown. Web. 18 Dec. 2009. <http://www.cuddledown.com/category/about+us/about+cuddledown.do>.
“Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute. Web. 17 Dec. 2009. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/formaldehyde>.
Global Organic Textile Standard. Web. 18 Dec. 2009. <http://www.global-standard.org/>.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100. Web. 17 Dec. 2009. <http://www.oeko-tex.com/oekotex100_public/index.asp?cls=02>.
“Sheets.” Sierra Club. Web. 18 Dec. 2009. <http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/go-green/bed/sheets/>.