Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Toxic Sponge

I am having to learn a whole new world of preventative health after having slept on a sponge of petrochemicals. You ask, who would sleep on a sponge of petrochemicals? Thousands of us! But most simply don't know.

I found out very quickly that I am severely sensitive to the chemicals used to make Tempur-pedic mattresses. We bought this type of mattress, typically called "memory foam", because it was written up in Consumer Reports as one of the best. And because we thought it might be fun to try something different.

It was far more expensive than what I considered rational, yet our overriding thought was that we spend one third of our lives sleeping, and we should have the best sleep possible. In the end, we thought we were worth it.

It never occurred to either of us that we were not protected by laws, or government regulation from purchasing something that would be severely hazardous to our health.

In fact, this blog was started simply as a moral imperative to get the word out, that many new mattresses, especially the memory foam ones, are full of known toxins, and we that we are not protected from these by our government or laws.

However, the first night was telling. I slept like I was drugged. I didn't even get up during the night, as usual, to use the bathroom. I woke up with difficulty, but I just didn't have the energy to get up.

The first morning, I awoke very tired. The alarm had seemed like it was far off in a distant land. I told my wife, "I feel like I've been drugged." She asked, "How so?"

"Well", I said, "I don't have any experience of having slept. Do you know what I mean? Normally, I wake remembering my experience of having slept. Like, I slept well, or fitfully, or long and peacefully. At least, I always feel like I've slept. But this morning I feel as if I've been drugged, and I have no memory of sleeping."

This experience of not sleeping continued. As the week went on I felt that I was getting more and more tired. I was feeling light headed and dizzy at work. I was beginning to feel like I could not concentrate and that I was overwhelmed by a feeling of fatigue.

By the middle of the second week, I told my wife that if this continued, I would not be able to work. We called the mattress company that had sold us the mattress and told them to get it out of our house.

By the end of the second week I was missing work and began doing research on the Intrnet. What I found was shocking. It was not just me that had experienced such heath issues from memory foam mattresses, but many others as well.

The bottom line is that many people have very bad effects from these new foam mattresses, especially children, and those who are chemically sensitive. Research on the Internet showed that there have been trips to the emergency room, months of missed work, and some who have not recovered.

Let me describe for you some of my symptoms. There was a feeling that something was interfering severely with my health. There was what can only be described as a Vise Grip on my brain, like something was keeping it from functioning normally.

At work, this feeling took away my confidence that I could work effectively and well. It made me take longer and review everything I did. Not very efficient. It gave rise to fear that if this got any worse, I would loose my job.

A feeling of intense fatigue took over me. It was very difficult to function with what seemed like chronic fatigue. At times I could feel numbness in my fingers and around my lips. A general numbness, or lessened awareness of sensation throughout my body.

The second week of having the mattress I kept telling my wife that if these symptoms worsened, I would not be able to work. I described to her that it was like I had the worst flu I had ever had. I have the feeling that I am dying. I told here, "If this continues, and gets worse, I will die."

Not to my surprise, I found that engineers who work around these chemicals have a term for what I was experiencing, their term: Chemical Flu. What really hurts is that inside the industry "They know." But the public doesn't.

Mind you, when we purchased the mattress, we were told that there would be a strong smell coming from the mattress for the first month or so. But, we were told, the smell will go away. We were told that we could spray some "Fabreeze" on the mattress if the odor was really bothersome.

We were not told that the smell is from the off-gassing of at least 61 Volatile Organic Compounds. These have been found in tests of this type of mattress. I found a book that lists all the chemicals found. It also provides all you need to know about current mattress hazards, and where to find one that doesn't emit these chemicals. The book is:

Toxic Bedrooms, Your Guide to a Good Night's Sleep
Author: Walter Bader.

1 comment:

  1. I recently bought a Tempurpedic Rhapsody mattress and I experienced very similar symptoms. It's best described as feeling as though your body is fighting a flu or minor poisoning every night. I would wake up exhausted after 8+ hrs of sleep. As it progressed I would wake up with muscle pain and achy, as if I had the flu. I also ended up with a sore throat, stomach ache, and acid-reflux type of symptoms. Interestingly, all of these symptoms (except for the tiredness) would literally disappear after 5-10 mins of waking up and getting out of bed. Of course, if I left my house and slept in a hotel then I wouldn't have any of these symptoms.

    The unfortunate part for me is that the Rhapsody did a tremendous job at relieving my leg and back nerve pain due to my herniated and bulging thoracic and lumbar discs. BUT I can't keep the mattress due to the symptoms. I will be returning it shortly and trying a latex bed, which I hope will be as good with my nerve pain.

    Good luck to everyone and please spread the word if you have had a bad experience, as it's the only way we consumers can help each other. Please note that I have NOT been paid and I do NOT work for a mattress company. I am simply a consumer that it trying to help other consumers.

    Good luck to all,