Buying an Asthma and Allergy-Friendly Mattress
Last updated: April 2022
Confession: I’ve never bought a brand-new mattress before.
I’ve always taken an extra one from my family, slept on weird futons, or moved into a room that already had a bed. My partner and I needed to upgrade our mattress, so we began our search online. Something about shopping for a mattress makes you feel like a real adult!
The mattress search
Since we were splitting the cost, our price range was in the $200-$500 range. No luxury mattress for us! We do obviously care about feeling comfortable and sleeping well, but we are not extremely picky. I personally did not want something with coils, and he wanted a mattress at least 7” inches thick. We both agreed we wanted something like memory foam, but without the high costs of brand names.
Aha! On one website we were searching on, we found a mattress that was on-sale, 40% off, and it was 10” memory foam. What a score! It had free shipping and, if we didn’t like it, we could return it within 120 days. This seemed like the perfect mattress for us; we decided to quickly skim the reviews before clicking “purchase”.
Check the reviews
I very quickly realized that purchasing this mattress would have been a MASSIVE mistake.
According to some of the reviews, this mattress contained fiberglass. What?! Why would you use fiberglass to make a mattress?
In one review, an upset parent had purchased this mattress for his son. After his son slept on the mattress, he started to break out in a skin rash and have multiple asthma attacks. Another person had accidentally cut the outside netting on the mattress, woke up covered in fiberglass, and had to go to the doctor immediately. One woman shared that the mattress off-gassed a terrible fume that smelled like formaldehyde, and experienced migraines and nausea from the mattress smell.
Dangerous materials within a mattress
Being exposed to fiberglass can be horrendous for the respiratory system. According to the Washington State Department of health, “High levels of exposure to airborne fiberglass may aggravate existing asthma or bronchitis-like conditions”.1 I understand that fiberglass within a mattress is not necessarily airborne, but I was definitely not going to take the risk.
Off-gassing of chemicals is, unfortunately, a normal thing for brand-new furniture, bedding, and mattresses, and is definitely not asthma-friendly for some. This is something that both my partner and I need to be mindful of. Strong chemical smells give me terrible migraines. His asthma is well-managed, but a chemical smell could still cause him to experience an asthma flare-up or attack.
Asthma-friendly mattress certifications to look for
I felt quite stupid for not considering my partner’s asthma and allergies when I first started my search for a mattress. Luckily, there are certain certifications you can look for when purchasing a new mattress. Here are the certifications to keep an eye out for:
- CertiPur-US® - ensures that foam in a mattress does not contain compounds such as ozone depleters, flame retardants, mercury, lead, other heavy metals, formaldehyde, and has low VOC (volatile organic compound emissions).2
- STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® - According to their website, seeing this label on a mattress means, “Every component of this article, i.e. every thread, button, and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article, therefore, is harmless in human ecological terms”.3
- GREENGUARD Gold Certified® - Their websites states that their certification “helps manufacturers create--and helps buyers identify--interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions, improving the quality of the air in which the products are used”.4
Finding an asthma-friendly mattress
Continuing my search, I kept my eyes open for these certifications. As I had predicted, mattresses that had these certifications were more on the pricey side and definitely outside our budget. These mattresses seemed to be of high quality and made from organic cotton and non-toxic foams.
We finally found a mattress that fit our requirements and our budget. We landed on an 11” foam mattress that has the CertiPur-US certification. The total is $350, with free 2-day shipping, and we can return it within 100 days if it doesn’t work for us. The mattress has a nearly perfect 5-star review. None of the comments mentioned terrible smells or hazardous materials.
If you have allergic asthma, it might be in your best interest to always read the reviews of a product! Many furniture items, bedding, mattresses, and plastic products are made with toxic compounds that can off-gas once inside your home. Additionally, a new mattress, bedding, or household item can contain hazardous materials, such as fiberglass.
Mattresses can be expensive, but it is certainly worth it for your health. Many mattress companies actually let you finance a mattress, for a monthly fee of only $30/month. If cost is an issue for you, this is an option you may have.
What has your experience been with purchasing an asthma-friendly mattress? Share in the comments below!
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