You are probably wondering after reading the title of this blog what does she mean by a less toxic bedroom? How could my bedroom be toxic? Most people don’t even realize that the most important place in the house, where you spend most of your time, could be negatively impacting your health.
Your bed can be a major source of chemical exposure. If you think about it we should be spending at least 7 to 8 hours a day in bed and if you are sleeping on a typical mattress than you could be inhaling pthalates, pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fire retardants (PBDE), formaldehyde and chemical additives all night long. Memory foams, especially, can be extremely saturated with chemicals. Certain polyurethane memory foam products, which have been connected to asthma, also contain perfumes to mask the chemical odor. Just like any overexposure there is a compounding effect. The body gets to a point where it is so bombarded by chemicals that it is difficult to remain efficient. Please read the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity blog if you haven’t already for a reminder on how chemicals can overwhelm and effect the body.
Since we have discussed the effects pthalates and pesticides have on the body in previous blogs, I would like to focus on some of the other chemicals.
PBDEs are inhaled which then enter the blood stream and create many health issues like: brain and reproductive damage, decreased sperm quality, thyroid problems and even cancer at high levels. These chemicals are not only present in the blood but also in breast milk and umbilical cord blood, meaning that it is being passed to the unborn and newborn child.
VOCs are a group of adhesive solvents that are found in mattesses, carpet, and paint. These too will get into the bloodstream and may cause long-term health effects after prolonged exposure. Cancers, damage to the heart, liver, central nervous system and kidneys have been connected to these chemicals. In practice the most common symptoms I see associated with elevated solvent levels are: anxiety, depression, headaches, fatigue and allergies.
Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and can cause many heath issues in children and adults, including headaches, and fatigue. Formaldehyde fumes contained in foam mattresses, and most bed frames can contribute to asthma and respiratory issues in children who are exposed to them on a regular basis.
Your bedroom can be a chemical laden nightmare if you let it, so here are some tips to allow you to have a peaceful nights rest.
Purchase a less/non-toxic mattress. Examples of places that sell good quality eco-friendly mattresses: Eco Clean (http://ecoclean-az.com) and Lifekind (www.lifekind.com). Ikea has an all natural line of mattresses with no flame retardants. They aren’t organic but have less toxins than other brands.
Purchase organic pillows and bedding. Check out GAIAM for a variety of options (www.gaiam.com).
Use an air purifier in your room. Blue Air, IQ Air and Austin Air are great and efficient air purifiers. Best to use the smoke stop filter if you purchase the Blue Air purifier as it is great at removing VOCs.
If you have purchased a new mattress fairly recently than it is a good idea to place the mattress outside or in the garage where it is warmer which allows for more off gassing of these chemicals elsewhere.
Consider removing carpet and replace it with tile if you are suffering from unrelenting asthma, allergies, headaches and fatigue. Carpet releases its own set of VOCs, but is also a great collector of dust and pet dander.
Remove any fragrant deodorizers placed in the room or anywhere else in the house for that matter.
If it is time to re-paint your bedroom it is best to use VOC free paint and primers.