Memory foam has been gaining popularity for its comfort and support, but so has the research devoted to its negative health effects. Some evidence suggests that certain chemicals in the manufacturing of memory foams can be detected in human breast milk and may wreak havoc on the thyroid and other hormones. Other evidence links its possible combustible components to accidental fire and injury. Health concerned consumers now turn to more natural alternatives to memory foam, like organic mattresses, to reduce their exposure to these negative factors.
Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) is an ingredient used by many furniture manufacturers in the making of memory foam products. PBDEs are not as common in furniture as they used to be, but some memory foam makers still use them. A study from Berkeley's School of Public Health showed that PBDE, a flame retardant, alters thyroid hormone during human pregnancy. Altered thyroid hormone can seriously impact metabolism and endocrine functions, and levels of PBDEs have been detected in breast milk of human females.
PBDE's are also combustible when exposed to fire. Igniting the chemical can cause rapid burning which may spread uncontrollably. This should be a case of concern for homeowners when choosing a mattress that contains conventional memory foam.
Memory Foam Alternatives
Mattress stores are slowly starting to offer organic mattress alternatives, made without flammable chemicals. There are even places online which offer organic memory foams made with natural ingredients. These are significantly safer and are growing quite popular, especially among families with young children.