A volatile organic compound or VOC is an organic compound that has a boiling point roughly in the range of 50 to 250 °C according to Health Canada. Some such as formaldehyde are known to be harmful to our health, while many others are not. Basically, any scent or odour is a VOC, and they actually play an important role as a communication medium in the plant world.
So why does this matter when you are considering purchasing a mattress? Is "off-gassing VOC's" really dangerous? As with anything, the most honest and accurate answer is that it depends and maybe. Chemicals that are found in polyurethane foams (i.e. memory foam) include isocyanates and diisocyanates which have proven to cause skin and respiratory problems in clinical and industrial environments, and in extreme cases have been found to be carcinogenic. In theory, household products should be stable enough compounds that these ingredients do not off-gas at "harmful" levels, allowing them to get approved by the various health and safety organizations that we depend upon to make sure harmful chemicals don't enter into household products.
So if a product has an odour, it is off-gassing. And that odour may be completely harmless or it may be something that has been linked to health problems like asthma and eczema. For us, we think it is commons sense that if a product is made out of chemicals that come in bottles with a skull and crossbones on it, there is a good chance it might not be good for you. Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and one of its primary functions is to absorb and secrete. Why are you choosing to lay it down for 8 hours a night on a product that may or may not be emitting harmful chemicals?
We think sleeping on natural products is like wearing a seatbelt. It's just smart and prudent. You don't plan on anything bad happening, but why not make a choice that is safer. In addition to the health benefits, a natural fibre mattress is going to help you sleep better by helping with temperature regulation and moisture management, and it is going to help support sustainable industrial practices. You are also supporting farming and agriculture, as opposed to the oil and gas and manufacturing tycoons who benefit from the production of polyurethanes.
In short, sleep clean, sleep cool... and sleep naturally.
To see our collection of natural fibre mattresses, please click here.