3 hidden hazards that could be putting your health at risk...
Since we all spend around a third of our lives in bed, it makes sense to ensure that the bedroom is a healthy, safe environment. Most of us clean our bedding and bed linens regularly and keep our bedrooms clean and tidy. However, from hormone disruptors in mattresses to sleep-disrupting EMFs, there could be a number of hidden health hazards in the average bedroom. Here’s how to avoid them and create a healthier, more refreshing sleeping environment...
New mattresses always look so clean, crisp and inviting. Yet, unless you choose a natural or organic option, they have almost always been treated with a whole host of toxic chemicals. These chemicals can continue to ‘off-gas’ Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) for long after you bring the mattress home. That characteristic acrid smell of a new mattress could actually be a signal that potentially harmful chemicals are being released into the air in your home. Many people report symptoms like headaches and dizziness as a result of bringing home a new synthetic mattress (particularly of the memory foam variety). If you have multiple chemical sensitivity your symptoms could be even more severe.
That’s not to mention the general possible health effects of exposure to these chemicals.
Although manufacturers’ components vary, chemicals like methylene dianiline (a possible carcinogen), methyl benzene (which can affect the nervous system), and potential neurotoxins like TDCPP have all been found in memory foam mattresses. Formaldehyde (a toxic chemical and potential carcinogen) is often released as a by-product.
It’s not just mattresses that can be affected. Some synthetic bedding can also ‘off-gas’. Despite appearing clean and crisp, non-organic bed linens and bedding may have been treated with fire retardants, fluoropolymers, bleaches and chemical dyes. If it’s not organic, the cotton may have been grown with pesticides or insecticides. It has been suggested that in some cases washing the bedding only removes around 60% of these toxins.
How do you avoid them?
The best option is to choose certified organic products. This way, you can rest assured that your bedding has undergone no chemical treatments and is made from purely natural, safe materials.
These organic mattresses are Soil Association certified, gloriously comfortable and only use the purest natural materials, removing the worry of toxic off-gassing. You can choose from pocket sprung or natural latex (suggested as an alternative to memory foam, due to its natural cushioning feel). Natural latex mattresses are also a good choice if you are electrically sensitive, as they are metal-free.
A huge variety of organic cotton bedding and bed linens are available. The linens we offer are all certified organic by the IVN (International Natural Textile Association) and are completely free from chemical treatments. Luxury duvets, mattress toppers and pillows are also available with organic certification, meaning you needn’t scrimp on comfort.
Don’t forget to care for your bedding with gentle, natural laundry products. Washing your organic bedding with harsh synthetic chemicals somewhat defeats the object! The Alma Win organic laundry range is ideal.
Due to the higher cost of raw materials, organic bedding often comes with a higher price tag. We believe it’s worth it, but if it isn’t practical for you, then we suggest at least looking for Oeko-Tex certified bedding instead. This is an independent certification which confirms that the product is free from hazardous chemicals, and it goes above and beyond the normal regulations.
You could be sharing your bed with millions of house dust mites – tiny spider-like creatures that feed on dead skin flakes. This sounds horrifying, but most of us manage to live happily alongside these tiny creatures, not noticing that they are present. If you are one of the many people with dust mite allergy you may experience uncomfortable symptoms like sneezing, wheezing, worsened asthma and eczema as a result of coming into contact with their allergenic faeces.
Another allergen that is often present in bedrooms is mould. This can impact on the health of everyone, even if you are not particularly allergic to mould. Mould allergy is generally very poorly understood. Over the years we have come into contact with hundreds of customers who have been made very ill by mould spores and their allergens. Symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, joint pain, depression and panic attacks have all been reported by people with mould allergy.
How do you avoid them?
If dust mite allergens are triggering your symptoms, you need to focus on dust mite-proofing your bedroom. The humid, warm environment combined with a plentiful food source makes this an ideal habitat for these creatures. Our dust mite proof bedding is effective due to the tightness of the weave, making it impermeable to dust mites and their allergens. Our barrier cases are Oeko-Tex certified and can be placed over your mattress, pillows and duvets to keep the insects out. You can also purchase pillows and duvets which are dust mite proof themselves, eliminating the need for barrier cases. Other dust mite proofing measures, such as humidity control, regular cleaning and removing allergens are important. You can read more about removing dust mites here.
To combat mould in your bedroom, first tackle any obvious sources of leaks, mould growth or damp. Then check the humidity with a hygrometer. If it is above 55% relative humidity (or of course if you have any obvious damp or mould present) you ought to consider using a dehumidifier. If you have mould allergy, an air steriliser can be very helpful for removing airborne spores. Allergy sprays are also very helpful for tackling mould.
If you are prone to overheating at night, this can create extra moisture in your bedding which can in turn lead to mould and mildew growth. Waterproof sheets can be very helpful, as can temperature-regulating bedding like DermaTherapy.
3. Electromagnetic fields
Do you ever feel ‘wired’ at night and find it difficult to drift off to sleep? Your bedroom could be full of devices which emit electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These may disrupt sleep and trigger symptoms in people with electrical sensitivity like headaches, depression, skin rashes and dizziness. Furthermore, radio-frequency radiation (emitted from sources such as mobile phones, smart meters, Wi-Fi and DECT phones) has been classified by the W.H.O as a possible carcinogen (Group 2B). This is based on studies reporting an increased risk of brain cancer associated with mobile phone usage.
If you spend time on your mobile phone or tablet before going to sleep, the blue light these devices emit could be disrupting your body’s production of melatonin. This can make it more difficult for you to drift off.
How do you avoid them?
To reduce the interference of EMFs in your bedroom, try to remove wireless devices from your sleeping area. Turn your Wi-Fi and mobile off at night (or put your phone on flight mode if you need it for the alarm).
It can be hard to work out where areas of EMF exposure are high, as the fields are invisible. By renting or purchasing an EMF meter, you’ll be able to gauge where fields are the most intense, and make adjustments as a result. For example, if your neighbours have a Wi-Fi router on the other side of your bedroom wall, you may wish to consider moving your bed to reduce your exposure. If you are severely electrically sensitive, a metal-free mattress may be helpful.