Toxins found in Kids Mattresses

List of Toxic Chemicals found in Kids Mattresses: 

All mattresses sold in the US must meet the Federal Mattress Flammability Standard (16 CFR Part 1633) which involves a thorough and lengthy open flame test. To meet this requirement, companies either:

  • Wrap the mattress with an inherently fire-resistant barrier material such as cotton fiber treated with boric acid (more on this later), or;
  • Use flame retardant chemicals, or;
  • Use sheep's wool that is naturally fire resistant.

The mattress industry claims that flame retardants are not generally used in foam fillings in mattresses in the U.S. However, independent tests conducted by researchers at Duke University, reported in 2016 that 52% of household foam samples tested did in fact contain flame retardant chemicals.

Mattresses for babies and kids are more likely to contain flame retardant chemicals than adult mattresses, because they are often made with polyurethane foam, which, due to its high flammability, requires FR chemicals to be added to meet the US standard.

Flame retardant chemicals accumulate in our body and are associated with hormone, brain, and reproductive damage, especially in children.


Companies often used boric acid as an insecticide to prevent bacteria, bed bugs and other pests from lingering. Boric acid also has flame resisting properties.

The CDC warns that boric acid can lead to respiratory and eye irritation, and effects on the gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidneys. Animal studies have found an increased risk of genital damage, brain damage and anemia.


Foam mattresses and synthetic latex mattresses commonly use formaldehyde-based adhesives to ‘hold’ layers together.

Formaldehyde, which off-gasses from the mattress, is breathed in by the person sleeping on it and can cause lung and skin irritation. It is also a known carcinogen.


Mattresses made with polyurethane foam tend to off-gas many VOCs. Crib mattresses made of this foam can off-gas up to 30 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that range the gamut from phenols (often used as antiseptics) to formaldehyde found in glues and adhesives).

Volatile organic compounds, can cause respiratory irritation and skin irritation. Babies and young children are particularly susceptible to these chemicals.


Crib mattresses and mattresses designed for younger kids often offer a vinyl water repellent layer, which many parents seek out to protect the mattress, especially during potty training years. This is often achieved with a top vinyl (PVC).

PVC can give off chemicals that have been linked to cancer, asthma, learning and developmental disabilities, obesity, and even reproductive disorders.


Antimicrobial are added to a mattress to prevent the growth and survival of bacteria, mold and mildew in your mattress. Some materials, like natural latex, is naturally antibacterial.

Other times, especially with mattresses made of polyurethane foam, synthetic antimicrobials – which are essentially a type of pesticide, are added.

These often are linked to increase allergies and asthma and could potentially mimic your hormones (endocrine disruptors).


For those looking for a latex mattress, it is important to understand the difference between synthetic and natural latex. Synthetic latex, which is basically man made latex, is often made from styrene, a human carcinogen.

Workers exposed to large amounts of styrene can develop irritation of the eyes and breathing passages. With long-term exposures, workers using styrene have had injuries to their nervous systems.


Used in polyester based barrier materials to achieve flame resistance and avoid flame retardant chemicals, Antimony is a heavy metal.

Short-term exposure to antimony can cause irritation of skin, eyes, and the respiratory system.

Prolonged exposure has been found to potentially damage the lungs and heart.

An increase in the number of spontaneous abortions has been observed in women exposed to airborne antimony in the workplace.




 - Non-toxic Living Expert

Source: Guide to choosing a non-toxic mattress