How Long for Mattress VOCs to Offgas?

In a previous blog post, I established that foam mattresses from Casper and Tuft & Needle had high VOCs in the packaging and that they should be opened outdoors.  For good measure, I tested yet another manufacturer’s product… Nest Bedding’s Love Bed.  I got the same results as with the other manufacturers:

 

What do all these videos prove?  They demonstrate that foam mattresses shipped straight to your home should be opened outdoors and allowed to air out.  But that begs the question, “For how long should they air out?”

 

To test that question, I did a “backyard” experiment after testing the Nest Bedding mattress.  I pressed my VOC measuring device (ppbRAE 3000 photoionization detector) right up against the mattress.  The video below shows what happened over the next 24 hours:



So as you can see in the video above, it’s important to not only open your mattress outdoors, but let it air out also.  The vast majority of VOC emission occurs in the first hour, and drops considerably after a day.   The mattress will continue to off gas at a much lower rate for an unknown amount of time, which is true of all furniture, finishes and building materials.

 

For a frame of reference, I let my foam mattresses air out for 2 days before bringing them indoors.  Once inside, I kept the windows open in the bedroom for a week as weather allowed.  If you are chemically sensitive, consider letting your foam mattress air out for even longer (or skip foam altogether).

These backyard experiments have lots of limitations. Nevertheless, they demonstrate that independent tests should be carried out in the mattress industry. I hope this message doesn’t fall on deaf ears. Share this blog post and pass on the message!

Ian Cull

Ian Cull

Ian Cull is a nationally recognized expert in the field of indoor air quality. He is the President of Indoor Science, a company he started in 2004. He speaks around the world on air quality topics and is a training provider of the Indoor Air Quality Association. Mr. Cull is a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). His degree is in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. Mr. Cull has developed 50 air quality related courses for the IAQA University and is the author of the book, “Fundamentals of Mold Remediation”. In his words… “Besides being passionate about indoor air quality, I enjoy cycling, music, the Chicago Bulls, and having fun with my three kids.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 thoughts on “How Long for Mattress VOCs to Offgas?

    Finally, someone who’s providing quantitate information on mattress safety. Thank you very much Ian!

    There’s a lot of conflicting information about how dangerous foam mattresses are due to VOCs and latex being far better. I read in a few places that Nest Bedding was non-toxic; it would appear that’s not quite true.

    I’ve very curious to know how the mattresses you have ( Casper,Tuft & Needle and Nest Bedding) compare in VOC emissions now that they’ve been in your house for quite some time. I’d also be interested to see if results are different if measured from the top of the mattress instead of the side (my kids often sleep with they nose right against the top).

    Cheers!

    Wow. I have been researching the CertiPUR-US certification and its associated group (the PFA), and I am completely disgusted. You can go to the PFA’s website and download the PDF of benefits for membership to the PFA, and they brag about succeeding in ” efforts to resist a move to have the Department of Transportation classify flexible polyurethane foam as a hazardous material” as well as altering air quality standards and promoting the interests of MANUFACTURERS…not customers or their safety. I am just…so disgusted with all of these companies, and the FAKE, total BS “certifications” that are purely for Public Relations purposes and NOT for safety at all. Thanks for your information, I really appreciate it.

    Seriously, all that crap is going into the air where we breathe it anyway. why not just get a healthier version to begin with. I never slept as good as I did once I got an organic cotton mattress with wool. Pure bliss.

    Great post – so glad to have found this. I just bought a Casper mattress, and the smell was really potent. I locked it in a room with an open window and a couple of fans running to try to mitigate before we sleep on it. Yours is the one truly substantive piece on this topic.

    Opening the mattress outside and leaving it there overnight isn’t something most people can do, especially if you live in an apartment. But it was interesting to see how much gas the mattress lets out. I just bought a Tuft and Needle. It had a slight smell and I’ll have to let it air out inside.

    “Open your mattress outdoors and let it air outside for two days” is not very useful advice for the trillions of urban earthlings who don’t have so much as a balcony, (and often no more than one room). How about some practical advice?

    I would suggest doing what you can. Open it up outside and let it air out for an hour if that’s all the time you can spare. That would be better than nothing.

    Hi Ian,
    I just found this link, I have a Serta Briggs Double Mattress, have left it outdoors for 4 days and 1 night and still smell the off gas. I am disgusted by this revelation and wonder why more people do not know about this. Thank you for your help in verifying this. I don’t know what to do, and hope the Sleep Country where I bought the mattress takes it back.

    This is a fantastic article! I work in the pediatric rehabilitation field as an Occupational Therapist and am occasionally involved in assisting clients ordering custom mold seating for their wheelchairs. Some of these wheelchairs return from the factory with such a toxic order that off gassing outside for days still doesn’t help. I would like to ask you about local testing services.