CertiPUR-US Certification for Mattresses: What It Is and Why It Matters
The CertiPUR-US certification for mattresses is one of the best ways to ensure the quality of your new memory foam mattress
May 13th, 2022 •
There are a staggering number of mattress options on the market today. From multi-thousand-dollar high-end foam mattresses in brick-and-mortar locations to inexpensive spring options found online, consumers have lots to choose from.
So, how does one choose what mattress to buy? After considering cost and comfort, consumers often turn to safety and toxicity. Are the materials safe for human health and the environment? One of the best ways to ensure that you’re buying a non-toxic mattress is to look for trustworthy certifications where the due diligence has been done for you.
This is particularly important for memory foam mattresses, one of the most popular mattress options on the market today. Many of these mattresses are made from polyurethane foam, a material that can contain dangerous chemicals for short-term health, long-term health, and the environment.
CertiPUR-US is the best certification for polyurethane mattresses that helps to protect consumers from some of the toxic materials used in their construction. In this article, we’ll reveal the dangers of some polyurethane foams, explain why a CertiPUR-US certification for mattresses matters, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Cheaply Made Foam Mattresses Come with Health Risks
Many years ago, NASA began using memory foam to help keep astronauts safe thanks to its ability to absorb shock. It was not designed with the intention of daily use, the way that it’s used in mattresses. Because of this, the constituents of memory foam were not created with the safety of sleeping consumers in mind.
Polyurethane, a compound made from petroleum, is the primary ingredient in memory foam mattresses. From there, other ingredients, many toxic, are added. These include things like formaldehyde, flame retardants, heavy metals, and phthalates.
Many of these toxic compounds fall under the category of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are toxic chemicals that can become airborne, leading to poor indoor air quality. Once these particles are in the air, we breathe them in, and they can get caught up in things like drapes, carpeting, sheets, and clothing.
The Health Risks of Volatile Organic Compounds
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) educates consumers on the multitude of short-term and long-term health effects of VOC inhalation. Some of the symptoms of VOC exposure include:
- Loss of coordination
- Nose, throat, and eye irritation
- Skin irritation or allergies
Extended exposure to VOCs may cause long-term health problems, including cancer and damage to your central nervous system, kidneys, or liver. Keep in mind, that mattresses are only one of many sources of VOCs. If you have any of the above symptoms, take steps like buying a HEPA air filter, opening your windows on nice days, and getting rid of furniture or carpeting that may contain high levels of VOCs.
Why You Should Buy Memory Foam with a CertiPUR-US Certification
Memory foam mattresses are an incredibly comfortable type of mattress, with many people reporting decreased levels of chronic pain after switching to one. For people who find that they sleep better on memory foam, it’s important to source a high-quality mattress to help keep you and your loved one safe.
This type of foam mattress is often produced in factories in China that take shortcuts on quality to provide the cheapest mattresses available. Fortunately, it’s possible to find polyurethane memory foam mattresses that are held to higher standards when it comes to our health and that of the environment. To do so, look for the CertiPUR-US certification.
In order to obtain this certification, mattresses must undergo a variety of tests to examine the quality and safety of the materials that are used and the final product. When you find a mattress with a CertiPUR-US certification, you can be assured that it is:
- Low in VOC emissions (< 0.5 ppm)
- Made without heavy metals like mercury and lead
- Made without certain flame retardants (PBDEs, TDCPPs, or TCEPs)
- Made without formaldehyde
- Made without certain phthalates (as regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission)
- Made without ozone depleting compounds
While these mattresses are not the cheapest ones available, the higher cost is reflected in higher quality and safety. Plus, there are still many options for mattresses with this certification around the $400 mark.
One word of caution: not every expensive memory foam mattress is made with these high standards. Just because a mattress is expensive does not mean that it’s safe. For your short-term and long-term health, look for this certification if you’re purchasing a polyurethane mattress.
Once you find your ideal CertiPUR-US certified memory foam mattress, you can take extra steps to keep you and your family safe. Be sure to:
- Air Out Your Mattress: Every new memory foam product needs to be aired out before use. Be sure to do so outside or in a well-ventilated room.
- Use Organic Bedding: Try organic cotton sheets and organic pillows to further ensure that your new, comfy bed is safe for your health.
- Throw Away When Necessary: If you notice any memory foam mattress or pillow beginning to fall apart, dispose of it. This is when VOCs are more likely to become airborne.
Can a mattress made outside of the U.S. contain CertiPUR-US certified foam?
Yes! There are several foam producers that make certified foams in Canada, Mexico, China, and Italy.
How often do foam producers go through the CertiPUR-US certification process?
Foam producers are required to go through the CertiPUR-US certification process every six months during their first year. Going forward, they complete the process annually to maintain the certification for each type of foam they want to be certified.
Where can I find a list of companies selling beds with CertiPUR-US certified foam?
The CertiPUR-US website posts a regularly updated list of companies selling beds with CertiPUR-US certified foam. You can access the list at https://certipur.us/list-of-participating-companies/
Some popular brands often featured on Mattress Advisor that use CertiPUR-US certified foam include:
What should I do if I'm not sure the bed I purchased has certified foam?
If you aren’t sure if your mattress has CertiPUR-US certified foam, you can email the CertiPUR-US organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can investigate to see if your mattress company is misrepresenting the certification.
Does a CertiPUR-US certification mean that a mattress is free of flame retardants?
No. A CertiPUR-US certification means that a mattress is free of certain fire retardants that have been identified by the Globally Harmonized System as containing substances that may cause cancer, genetic defects, or damage to unborn children. Check with your mattress manufacturer to see if they use any other flame retardants not listed on the CertiPUR-US prohibited list.
The CertiPUR-US organization currently prohibits the following flame retardants:
- Pentabromodiphenyl ether
- Octabromodiphenyl ether
- Decabromodiphenyl ether
- Chlorinated phenols (PCP, TeCP)
- Dimethyl Methylphosphonate(DMMP)
- Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
- Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB)
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)
- Polychlorinated Terphenyls (PCT)
- Tri-(2,3-dibromo-propyl)-phosphate (TRIS)
- Tris-(aziridinyl)-phosphinoxide (TEPA)
- Tris-(2-chloroethyl)-phosphate (TCEP)
- Tris-(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)-phosphate (TDCPP)
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