Polyurethane foam has been used in mattress manufacture since the 1950s and continues to be popular for its supportive comfort and resistance to body impressions. However, what was not known in the 1950s and is still kept hidden by many manufacturers today is that this crude-oil-based material lets off toxic gases when it comes into contact with body heat. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), long-term exposure to polyurethane foam may cause:
- Childhood behavioral problems
- Neurological disorders
- Autoimmune problems
With the aim of making mattress foam safer and providing customers with the ability to make healthier choices for their families, CertiPUR-US® was created in 2008 as a program of the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam. A non-for-profit organization, CertiPUR-US® tests polyurethane foam and certifies the foam as being free from known toxic substances and flame retardants, including:
- Ozone depleters
- PBDEs, TDCPP, or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants
- Mercury, lead, and heavy metals
- Phthalates that are listed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Volatile Organic Compounds that exceed the permitted emission levels (currently set at under 0.5 parts per million)
How Does CertiPUR-US® Compare with Other Mattress Certifications?
While this certification is much more limited in its scope compared to GOTS and GOLS and does not address the origins of raw materials or well-being of workers, it is still a useful certification for those who are concerned about the presence of specific toxins in their mattress.