Low Tox Mattress

Low-Tox Mattress

There is very little regulation in Australia and around the world about what materials and chemicals are allowed to be put into mattresses for adults and children. These toxins (flame retardants, formaldehyde, phthalates, and other volatile organic compounds) aren’t bound into the mattress and are released over time. We inhale these and overtime they can accumulate in the dust on our floors, which is why dusting, cleaning, and ventilation are so important. Given that our faces are so close to a mattress for such a long period night after night, breathing in these fumes can make for a pretty unhealthy sleep and bedroom environment. In such close proximity to a mattress’s surface for so many hours, we can’t help but have a large cumulative exposure to any volatile gaseous output our mattress emits.

A mattress’s toxin output may not immediately affect your sleep; however, often people experience respiratory irritation from the initial off-gassing odours or from breathing in chemical fumes that are emitted from flame retardants, glues, and petrochemical foams that can potentially have detrimental long-term health effects.

It is not just new mattresses that “off-gas”. Although the ‘new smell’ odour does decrease over the first few weeks, it has been shown that over time, as foam breaks down, they also release toxins such as flame retardants into the air for us to unknowingly breathe in.

The most concerning toxins that are very common in mattresses include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), flame retardants, formaldehyde and phthalates. The reason why exposure to these chemicals matters is that they have been linked to a whole lot of negative health effects from respiratory irritation to endocrine (hormone) disruption and cancer.

Body heat, sweat, hot, cold all liberate the chemical compounds in the mattresses over time. It’s not just the exposure to VOC’s and toxins from a mattress but the cumulative exposure to ALL household chemicals over time. Children are at greater risk. They are small, they breathe in more air relative to their body size, their organs are rapidly developing, their immune systems are immature and many mouths breath so they don’t effectively filter out the chemicals around them. They have a close proximity to the ground and contact with dust/chemicals from crawling, etc.

So what do you need to look for when choosing a mattress?
* Low-VOC certification
* No added chemical flame retardants
* No added fragrances or antimicrobials
* No glue.
* No polyurethane foam
* No PVC or vinyl
* No springs
* Keep a keen eye out for “eco” mattresses that still use synthetic foams.
* Avoid antimicrobial – stain resistant/mould resistant
* Avoid PVC and vinyl.
* Words like “made with organic/natural latex” sometimes that’s as little as 1-2%. Must be 100%

You want:
* Minimum 95% organic content: cotton, wool, latex.
* 100% Natural Latex from Rubber Trees – Ideally organic to ensure purity. Mould and dust mite resistant.
* Rubberised Coconut Coir
* Chemical free, untreated pure wool
* Organic cotton
* Natural flame retardants: 100% natural latex or untreated pure wool
* Dust mite resistant materials: Rubberised coir or latex. Pure wool is also somewhat dust mite resistant
* Covers: Organic cotton, organic hemp, organic bamboo lyocell.

Mattresses don’t come with an ingredient list, which makes it really hard to decide which one to choose. Not surprisingly, every company wants you to believe that their mattress is the best. Companies will often use the words ‘natural’ and ‘eco-friendly’ etc. but these terms can be purely clever marketing. The only way to truly know whether a mattress is non-toxic is to have a look at its independent certifications.

Certified mattresses have been reviewed by third-party independent organisations whose logo assures consumers that the product meets their quality criteria look for •GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard).
* OEKO TEX 100 – Tested for harmful substances
* GOLS (for latex) Global Organic Latex Standard
* Eco Institute: (tested for VOCs, flame retardants, heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates and formaldehyde)
* GECA- Good environmental choice Aus
* CERTIPUR-US (This is a US certification for non-toxic foam.
* REACH – Regulation of the EU.

Look for Australian-made:
Overseas imports have to go through a fumigation process at customs, particularly if they are entering Australia from Asia.

A good starting place is:


@milariorganics cot mattresses
@mattressisland you can customise your own mattress from latex to GOTS certified cotton etc
@bubnest organic latex portable bed
@naturebabynz cot and bassinet mattresses


Low-tox mattresses do cost more than regular mattresses, so they are definitely an investment in your health and your family’s health. It’s worthwhile, given you will have them for 10 years +. If you really cannot afford a new low-tox mattress now, a good option is to buy a mattress topper made out of natural wool or latex. This is what’s going to come into close contact with your body, so it’s the best priority on a budget.

If, like me, you recently purchased a standard mattress before you knew about all of this, you need to allow time for it to off gas. Unwrapping it and letting it off gas outside safely before bringing it inside is the best option. Air flow is your best friend. Once it’s inside, open your windows daily. Fresh air and sunshine are the best options to detox your room and mattress.

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