When Your Mattress Makes You Sick . . .

The sad story of the “Mattress from Hell” and how you can avoid a similar fate (for you and other Alaskans)

Long-time ACAT supporter Mei Mei Evans recently shared her story of the “Mattress from Hell”:

“Six months ago, a new acquaintance mentioned that she worked in a mattress store and that it was usual to replace a mattress after ten years.  Her comment got me to thinking.  At that point, I’d had my mattress for 25 years.

Never one to rush into things, I’ve since been mulling the tantalizing pleasure of a new mattress.  Last week, recent signs of spring and the promise of new beginnings finally prompted me to take action, and I bought what I thought was a really nice mattress.  When it was delivered yesterday and the plastic overwrap removed, I immediately smelled the unpleasant odor . . . of what, I was not sure.  But it did not smell good.  Since delivery took place in the morning, I reasoned that by the time I was ready to go to bed, the bad smell would have gone away.

Well, not only had it NOT stopped smelling by bedtime, but I awoke in the middle of the night with the certainty that I was going to puke.  You know the feeling.  I reviewed everything I’d eaten and couldn’t come up with any candidates for food poisoning.  Since it was by then the wee hours and I’m disinclined to take action in the middle of the night if I don’t have to, I returned to bed and fell asleep.

Only to awaken this morning with a wicked headache that continues to throb even as I write these words.  It occurred to me then (Better late than never, right?) to do an internet search for “new mattress smell.”  Which leads directly to the truly disturbing concept of “off-gassing.”  Not a pretty picture.  Now I’m on a quest to try to undo the damage.  I’m horrified that something as seemingly ordinary as replacing a mattress can introduce contaminants into our homes and sicken us.  I hope that this short piece might spare someone else the grief that evidently can sometimes attend the modest desire to get a good night’s sleep.”

Unfortunately, Mei Mei is far from alone; ACAT has been hearing from more and more Alaskans about their bad mattress experiences. People are turning to ACAT seeking to avoid buying mattresses contaminated with chemicals that could make them sick – so we updated our mattress fact sheet for those looking to buy a new mattress. You can find it here.

Of course, it would be better if all mattresses were free of toxic chemicals that make us sick. To that end, ACAT is championing the Toxic-Free Children Act to get a class of toxic flame retardants called “organohalogens” out of children’s toys, upholstered furniture, and mattresses. If healthy mattresses are important to you, send an email now to House Labor and Commerce Committee, asking them to hold a hearing on the Toxic-Free Children Act.

The legislature gavels out on April 15, so please send your email today. We’ll all sleep better if you do.



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