Find a Mattress Without Harmful Chemicals

    Top mattresses from CR's tests certified to have low or even no VOCs

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    detail of side of Avocado mattress on wood bed and pillows in background Photo: Avocado

    Just bought a new mattress? You may detect a chemical odor when you first remove the plastic wrapping.

    That smell comes from volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, chemicals in the solvents used in the manufacturing process. VOCs have the ability to vaporize, or off-gas, at room temperature. The process of vaporizing leads to those chemicals lingering in the air, where they can be inhaled and potentially cause short- and long-term health problems.

    In higher concentrations, VOCs released indoors can lead to immediate negative health effects, such as eye and respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and allergic skin reactions

    While these compounds can dissipate if you allow your mattress to air out before you sleep on it, you can also buy a mattress that already has low or no VOCs by checking to find out whether it’s certified for one or both.

    “Although not all chemicals are federally regulated, the voluntary testing of VOCs for mattresses is highly recommended,” says Ashita Kapoor, associate director of product safety at Consumer Reports. “Consumers, designers, and environmentalists depend on VOC testing to ensure product quality and safety in these products.”

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    However, not all certifications provide the same assurance regarding VOCs. A CertiPur certification, for example, means that chemicals such as flame retardant were not used for the polyurethane that’s in a mattress, but it doesn’t cover any other materials.

    A GreenGuard certification does not guarantee that no VOCs were used to make a mattress, only that a mattress has low VOC emissions. And don’t be fooled by a “natural” label on a mattress—there’s no official certification that defines what natural means.

    So what are the certifications you should look for if you want a low- or no-VOC mattress? One reliable one is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which ensures that the mattress is made of 95 percent organic material and that no chemical flame retardants or polyurethane was used in its manufacture.

    For latex mattresses, the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) ensures that the latex used is 95 percent organic and that no chemical flame retardants or polyurethane was used. You can read more about mattress certifications in our guide to organic mattress labels.

    CR members can read on for the details on five mattresses from our tests that perform well and have either GOTS or GOLS certification, or both. For more on mattresses, see our mattress buying guide and mattress ratings.

    Best Mattresses With Low or No VOCs

    Consumer Reports

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