Posted on by Alex Wood
What Are VOCs?
Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are used, in the manufacturing process, of many items found in our homes. The term “volatile” means that these are chemicals that can easily get into the air that you breathe each day and end up inside of your body. “Organic” means that they are carbon-based.
U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have discovered that VOCs are widely found indoors. Indoor levels can be 2 to as many as 1,000 times higher than outdoor VOCs. There may be between 50 to 100 types of VOCs present, in the air, inside of your home, right now. You might be able to smell some of these. Others will not be easily detected.
Health Effects of VOC Exposure
The potential negative health effects from inhaling a chemical is dependent upon how long it’s been in the air, how regularly you breathe it in, and how much of the chemical is present around you. Breathing in low levels of VOCs for protracted time periods could increase your risk of getting ill. Studies suggest that VOC exposure can worsen asthma symptoms, and it is bad for people who are sensitive to chemicals.
Keep in mind that VOCs refer to a group of chemicals. Each chemical has its own potential to cause different health effects as well as its own toxicity level.
Some VOCs are irritants, and can give you symptoms such as:
Short-term or acute exposure
- Throat, eye and nose irritation
- Worsening of asthma symptoms
- Central nervous system damage
- Kidney and liver damage
Long-term exposure to some VOCs could lead to cancer and other chronic diseases. Some VOCs are toxic in high concentrations.
Common VOCs that could be present in your home include:
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers. These are flame retardants that have a connection to hormonal changes and reduced fertility. They also have connections to hyperactivity, lower birth weight, and lower IQ in children.
- Formaldehyde is a preservative that’s also used as a glue in mattresses. This chemical can irritate your skin, nose, and throat. It presents an increased risk for wheezing and coughing.
- Polyols bind polyurethane foams and create bulk. Some polyols come from natural sources such as soybeans and they are mixed with other chemicals. However, most come from petroleum. Benzenes is a known carcinogen that occurs naturally in petroleum.
- Toluene diisocyanates. These make foam more flexible. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) view these as a potential carcinogen.
Ways of Chemical Exposure
There are three main ways you can suffer from chemical exposure:
- Dermal absorption.
Inhalations involve breathing in VOCs in the air your breathe. Ingestion happens when chemical materials come into contact with your mouth, and dermal absorption is when they come into contact with your skin.
Is There a Safe Level of VOCs?
It’s a good idea to limit your exposure to materials and products that contain VOCs, to protect your health. If you’re worried about the level of VOCs in your mattress, try buying an organic latex mattress instead. If you feel that VOCs are making you sick, try reducing their levels in your home. If your symptoms persist, have a chat with your doctor to rule out any other potentially serious medical conditions that could have similar symptoms.
Who is at Risk From VOC Exposure?
Everyone who is exposed to VOCs is at risk of inhaling, ingesting or absorbing them. Also, your risk is greater if you have respiratory problems, chemical sensitivities, asthma, etc. Children and the elderly also have a greater risk.
VOCs and Offgassing
Outgassing is often referred to as offgassing. Outgassing is the process your mattress goes through when VOCs are released into the air, from the chemicals in your mattress. Have you ever noticed the strong odor that a new memory foam mattress has? This strong odor is due to the VOCs and chemicals in your mattress. These VOCs disperse into the air in your home, which you breathe in each day. When you detect these chemical smells, be aware that these are a source of potential harm.
How to Avoid Breathing in VOCs
Synthetic materials generally contain VOCs, whereas natural materials do not. That may be so, but it’s crucial to note that the process of creating some products, even with natural materials, results in them containing VOCs. Wherever possible, try to opt for an organic latex mattress since they don’t have volatile organic compounds.
Perhaps you find it easy to fall asleep at night, no matter where you are. But, sleeping on a traditional mattress, filled with VOCs, makes it harder to get a good night’s rest. Not only will your mattress be laden with dust mites and skin cells, but it could be leaking out harmful chemicals as well.
It’s likely that you’re sleeping on polyurethane foam, whether a mattress is a traditional innerspring model or a memory foam model. Polyurethane foam is a synthetic derivative of petroleum. These mattresses have offgassing from the VOCs inside of the mattress, and they are unsafe and unhealthy to sleep on.
You may also be sleeping on a mattress that contains chemical flame retardants. Chemical flame retardants are commonly used on mattresses and they are well-known for harboring harmful toxins that leech out, into the air that you breathe, as you sleep.
Offgassing odors, from chemicals and VOCs, are not only displeasing, but they can trigger asthma attacks, upper respiratory discomforts, headaches and other reactions. We all see our beds as a safe place to be. But, how safe are they really, when they are filled with chemicals? The fewer toxins that you bring into your home, the less you will expose your family to harm.
VOCs are not found in organic latex mattresses, as mentioned. Organic latex mattress toppers don’t contain volatile organic compounds either, as they are made with 100 % natural latex. When you choose one of these, you can sleep easy, knowing that you’re not releasing harmful chemicals into the air that you and your family breathe.
Why Choose an Organic Latex Mattress?
Organic mattresses and bedding are becoming more and more popular as we seek to live healthier lifestyles. We spend so much time sleeping in our bedrooms that it’s no wonder people are so interested in sleeping healthy.
Is it possible to find a mattress that isn’t filled with questionable chemicals? The answer is yes! Organic latex mattresses contain no VOCs, they are completely recyclable and they typically last for up to 25 years. They can save you money and they are the healthiest sleeping surface for you and your family. If you’re concerned about off gassing and toxic chemicals in your mattress and home, then an organic latex mattress is the way to go.
Traditional mattress options include memory foam beds, gel foam beds and innerspring beds with different fiber and foam layers. The majority of these mattresses contain synthetic materials like polyurethane foams, vinyl, press board, polyester fabrics and more. They’re also often treated with chemical flame retardants, adhesives, dyes, glues, antimicrobials, and other chemicals that contribute to unhealthy off-gassing.
An organic latex mattress, on the other hand, is made with 100% natural latex – no synthetic blends, no fillers, no dyes, no carcinogenic adhesives, no chemicals and no pesticides. Clean, pure, 100% natural latex, as Mother Nature intended. This is the healthiest sleeping surface you will find.
Sitting somewhere in between these two distinct categories are mattresses that use all natural materials. These mattresses are not organic, but they often include some healthy materials such as plant-based poly foams, natural fabrics, and natural latex along with coils or a foam core.
Pros Of Choosing an Organic Latex Mattress
It’s time to make the switch to an organic latex mattress if you’re worried about volatile organic compounds getting into your home or the homes of the people you love. The benefits include:
- No pesticide residues
- Non-toxic fire barriers
- Sustainable manufacturing and farming
Keep you and your loved ones safe. Consider buying an organic latex mattress today. Don’t accept volatile organic compounds in your home.
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