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Author Topic: Is polyurethane foam OK for a sleeping surface, or is it toxic?  (Read 18446 times)

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TJ700

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Hey guys, a bit of a strange question I suppose, but it is related to chemistry. Here is the deal:

I’ve found a bed that I like (It’s the “Mariott bed” made by Jamison used in Mariott hotels.) It is made of 9 inches polyurethane foam, and has no springs. So my question is, is polyurethane safe to sleep on for 8 hours a day long-term, or is it toxic? (I’m most interested in the safety of polyurethane itself, not the fire retardants, since I know a guy who will make me one without it.)

I keep reading “green” sites that say polyurethane is toxic for a sleeping surface, and then others say no problem. I'm not sure what to think, so I figured I’d ask some folks who have a real understanding of chemistry their opinion.

What do you experts say? (Thanks in advance for any input.)
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Arkcon

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Re: Is polyurethane foam OK for a sleeping surface, or is it toxic?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2008, 03:56:32 PM »

Generally, once plastics are made, completed, and washed free of the chemicals that made them, they're considered safe, at the very least, for adults to handle.  The finished polymer is too "big" a molecule to soak through skin or be metabolized by the body.

Polyurethane is one of the cleanest ones, wikipedia says that OSHA and ACGIH have no exposure limits.  Dunno what science those Green sites are basing their "toxic" point of view on.
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TJ700

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Re: Is polyurethane foam OK for a sleeping surface, or is it toxic?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2008, 04:13:20 PM »

Here is one example of the dangers I read about, although this is about kids' beds:

http://naturepedic.com/research/fiveproblems.php

# Polyurethane foam, the predominant filling material used in crib mattresses, typically contains various problematic ingredients including chemical catalysts, surfactants, emulsifiers, pigments, and other chemical additives. These frequently include formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and other well established toxic chemicals.

# Polyurethane foam (essentially solid petroleum) is extremely flammable. To combat this hazard, industrial toxic fire retardants are added. The most common chemical fire retardant used to treat polyurethane foam has been pentaBDE, a toxin associated with hyperactivity and neurobehavioral alterations. PentaBDE is not bound to the foam, and leaches out into the surrounding air.

END

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Arkcon

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Re: Is polyurethane foam OK for a sleeping surface, or is it toxic?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2008, 04:23:51 PM »

Ah, according to that site, "polyurethane foam is essentially “foamified” petroleum" and polyethylene isn't.  Gotcha.  Makes perfect sense. ::)
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That all depends on how reasonable we're all willing to be.  I just want my friends back, except for Cartman, you can keep him.

DrCMS

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Re: Is polyurethane foam OK for a sleeping surface, or is it toxic?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2008, 10:09:22 PM »

That site takes some genuine science and experimental data and then twists it around and steches it till it breaks.  Then tries to sell you one of their "green" products.
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TJ700

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Re: Is polyurethane foam OK for a sleeping surface, or is it toxic?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2008, 02:09:04 PM »

 I'm not sure any more about the fire retardant problem anymore cuz now the guy says there are laws he is supposed to comply with re: fire safety. But I don't know what if anything he wants to add to the polyurethane.

The fire retardants used may be a bigger concern than polyurethane, but these are probably in any mattress you could buy.

So to sum up, you guys wouldn't be concerned about sleeping on polyurethane foam 8 hours a day for years to come?

The reason I'm harping on this is b/c that is the most comfortable bed I've ever tried, and I have an arthritic problem in my hips that this bed helps with.

Also, is there someplace for me to look for answers on this topic? Maybe there is a site with info on environmental hazards that have tested polyurethane.

Thanks for your informed advice.
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Borek

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Re: Is polyurethane foam OK for a sleeping surface, or is it toxic?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 10:10:04 PM »

So to sum up, you guys wouldn't be concerned about sleeping on polyurethane foam 8 hours a day for years to come?

No, especially if

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that is the most comfortable bed I've ever tried, and I have an arthritic problem in my hips that this bed helps with.
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