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Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 07 Oct 2013 08:46 #1

  • GrandMasterJ
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So, looking for more information on a few things, one being pillows for a sufferer of dust allergies but also with a concern on Volatile Organic Compounds.

I read through Phoenix's "Your Sleeping Style, Preference, and Statistics" page (by the way, this link no longer works: themattressunderground.com/research/basic-information/your-style-preferences-and-statistics/natural-vs-synthetic.html) and to quote a section of it:

Do not believe that any polyurethane or memory foam ... even those with "soy bean" or "castor oil" polyols used to replace a small portion of the petrochemical ingredients are in any way natural. They are not. In the same way SBR while completely safe to use is also not a natural substance in a blended latex.


This leads me to a concern about what types of pillows are options for allergy sufferers (this rules out feathers and down) who are concerned about the indoor air quality of their homes and the VOCs spewing from our, apparently, lethal upholstery, mattresses, etc. Is natural latex (shredded or otherwise) a viable alternative? Does shredded have the similar feel to feather/down pillows? Do these types of pillows have no or low VOC emissions? I read about a polyester pillow and then read how bad polyester is apparently for you (health-wise).

I was looking at this site: www.thecleanbedroom.com/ and specifically this pillow drew my eye: www.thecleanbedroom.com/Natural_Bedding/Pillows/Natural_Latex/Naturally-Organic-Shredded-Natural-Latex-Pillow.htm Or something in the Natura line: www.thecleanbedroom.com/Natural_Bedding/Pillows/Natural_Latex/Naturalatex_DreamMate_Pillow_Organic_Series.htm Really quite expensive, but I only need a standard pillow and the 20% sale will help.

The site itself has good ratings on Amazon as a reseller, however, I find little information on these types of pillows. Can anyone make suggestions regarding the smell, allergy issues, VOC output, and feel of "natural/organic shredded latex" pillows? My ideal here would be something with a feather-feel or gel-feel and support for a side/back sleeper.

While on the subject of VOCs and the above quote, Select Foam, from whom I recently purchased the Grandis-HD memory foam mattress, purports "our mattresses emit no VOCs" and "our mattress have the lowest VOC emissions I've ever heard about"; two rather different statements. I wasn't able to get a confirmation that their mattresses are 100% soy-based foam, so is there a significant quantity of petroleum-based foam(visco-elastic or base/support layers) making up these mattresses? They have switched to an organic cotton ticking and use a wool layer as their fire retardant, both of which are good steps toward reducing unnecessary chemical components.

My allergies in almost every category are "very high" with a few "moderate" according to an allergy test, however I do not possess allergies to latex.

Thank you for anybody's input in advance.

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Last edit: by GrandMasterJ.

Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 07 Oct 2013 11:57 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi GrandmasterJ,

I read through Phoenix's "Your Sleeping Style, Preference, and Statistics" page (by the way, this link no longer works: themattressunderground.com/research/basic-information/your-style-preferences-and-statistics/natural-vs-synthetic.html)


The link is from an old section of the site that has since changed but I can't find it on the page. Could you let me know where you found it so I can change it to the current page.

This leads me to a concern about what types of pillows are options for allergy sufferers (this rules out feathers and down) who are concerned about the indoor air quality of their homes and the VOCs spewing from our, apparently, lethal upholstery, mattresses, etc. Is natural latex (shredded or otherwise) a viable alternative? Does shredded have the similar feel to feather/down pillows? Do these types of pillows have no or low VOC emissions? I read about a polyester pillow and then read how bad polyester is apparently for you (health-wise).


This would really depend on whether you were comfortable with the testing that has been done on the material. In most cases ... North American foam has been CertiPur tested for offgassing and harmful substances and with latex almost all the latex you will encounter ... synthetic, natural, or blended ... has been OekoTex tested (which is a more stringent test) or tested to other similar testing criteria such as Eco-Institut.

I would keep in mind that allergies and toxicity or sensitivity to certain chemicals can be different things. In terms of "feel" ... shredded latex can be a good choice for those who want to "scrunch up" their pillow when they change positions or who want a little bit less resilient "feel" than a solid latex pillow. I personally have no concerns with any latex in terms of VOC's whether it is synthetic or natural but of course there are many people who prefer 100% natural rubber based on principal alone regardless of its relative safety. Most people would also be comfortable with polyfoam or memory foam that has been CertiPur certified but once again each person may be different and some people who are unusually sensitive can sill react to materials that are generally "safe" for others. Post #2 here and the links it contains is a good starting point for those who want to do more research into the many conflicting claims and information about different materials in terms of safety, green, natural, or organic claims so that they can answer the question of "how safe is safe enough for me?" but this is a very complex and often confusing subject with no clear answers in many cases so each person will need to use their own best judgement about the materials they are most comfortable with.

The site itself has good ratings on Amazon as a reseller, however, I find little information on these types of pillows. Can anyone make suggestions regarding the smell, allergy issues, VOC output, and feel of "natural/organic shredded latex" pillows? My ideal here would be something with a feather-feel or gel-feel and support for a side/back sleeper.


You can read more about the typical smell of different types of latex in post #2 here and about latex allergies in post #2 here and about the effect of latex on dust mite allergies (which are the most common household allergy) in post #2 here . All the latex you are likely to encounter is OekoTex certified (or in some cases other certifications) for VOC's but you can always check for the certifications for the latex used in any product. "Feel" is subjective and relative to each person ... especially with pillows. There is more information about pillows in the pillow thread here .

While on the subject of VOCs and the above quote, Select Foam, from whom I recently purchased the Grandis-HD memory foam mattress, purports "our mattresses emit no VOCs" and "our mattress have the lowest VOC emissions I've ever heard about"; two rather different statements. I wasn't able to get a confirmation that their mattresses are 100% soy-based foam, so is there a significant quantity of petroleum-based foam(visco-elastic or base/support layers) making up these mattresses? They have switched to an organic cotton ticking and use a wool layer as their fire retardant, both of which are good steps toward reducing unnecessary chemical components.


All mattresses emit VOC's (even fruit emits VOC's) so there is no such thing as a mattress foam that emits no VOC's that are the same as background levels. It's really a matter of whether the VOC's are harmful and if they are manufacturerd in North America or the materials are CertiPur certified then most people would be comfortable with the amount of VOC's that are emitted. There is also no such thing as a foam that is 100% soy based and you can read more about foams that have replaced a percentage of the polyols (one of the two main chemicals used in polyfoam and memory foam) with plant based derivatives in post #2 here .

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 07 Oct 2013 12:33 #3

  • GrandMasterJ
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The link is from an old section of the site that has since changed but I can't find it on the page. Could you let me know where you found it so I can change it to the current page.


Sure, it's found as a link near the bottom of this page:
www.themattressunderground.com/mattresses/style-preferences-and-statistics/your-preferences.html

All mattresses emit VOC's (even fruit emits VOC's) so thre is no such thins as a mattress foam that emits no VOC's that are the same as background levels. It's really a matter of whether the VOC's are harmful and if they are manufacturerd in North America or the materials are CertiPur certified then most people would be comfortable with the amount of VOC's that are emitted. There is also no such thing as a foam that is 100% soy based and you can read more about foams that have replaced a percentage of the polyols (one of the teo main chemicals used in polyfoam and memory foam) with plant based derivatives in post #2 here.


So, should I have any cause for concern that Select Foam is not Certipur certified(assuming I wish to keep the harmful VOC levels inside my home low)? How does Relief Mart (Tempflow) manage to bring their VOC levels to negligible amounts?

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Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 07 Oct 2013 13:42 #4

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Hi GrandMasterJ,

Sure, it's found as a link near the bottom of this page:
www.themattressunderground.com/mattresse...our-preferences.html


Thank you! ... the link is corrected :)

I thought I had checked all the links on the main pages of the site but I'll have to go through them once again to see if there are any others.

So, should I have any cause for concern that Select Foam is not Certipur certified(assuming I wish to keep the harmful VOC levels inside my home low)? How does Relief Mart (Tempflow) manage to bring their VOC levels to negligible amounts?


The foam that Select Foam uses is made by a North American foam manufacturer that is CertiPur certified so it wouldn't be a concern of mine no. CertiPur certification of a mattress manufacturer is a costly process so there are many mattress manufacturers that aren't CertiPur certified that use CertiPur certified foams.

You can see some of my comments about Relief Mart in post #9 here . They use CertiPur certified foam in all of their mattress lines except for the Tempflow line which have been tested by Greenguard to a higher standard than CertiPur. They will provide the results of their tests to any of their customers who ask for them. In their case they submitted and tested their foams on their own initiative and expense because of Dr Rick's personal commitment to low VOC's and the manufacturer of the foam didn't have any certifications even though they are producing a memory foam that is made from MDI and has lower levels of VOC's than most of the memory foam made in the country that is CertiPur certified.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 07 Oct 2013 20:43 #5

Probably harder to find the right pillow than it is the right mattress. I do have some basic guidelines that I use when recommending pillows that perhaps could be of use to you.

Regarding chemical concerns and allergies; there is little to no guidelines in place regarding this use of this term. Polyester pillows are always labelled hypoallergenic and are known to be one of the worst pillows to use for those that suffer from seasonal allergies, hayfever or asthma. Technically people can be allergic to just about anything (some people are allergic to sunlight) although a lot of people also get very allergic like reactions to certain families of products that they attribute to allergies however many times are not. For instance down fill pillows many people believe they are allergic too, in reality most people that claim this are just more sensitive to dust mites than the average person. Most 'down' filled pillows are also filled mostly with feathers which do not breathe like down does and this is what creates an environment that is conducive to a lot of bacteria and dust mite growth. If a pillow does not breathe well this is a major concern because humidity from your head will build up in the pillow, dust mites contrary to popular belief do not actually feed on your dead skin cells. They feed on bacteria that live on your dead skin cells. The more humidity, the better the bacteria does and the better the dust mites do.

So I think you are on the right path looking for a natural pillow, not to mention trying to avoid a lot of chemical exposure if you can considering you are breathing right off the pillow itself.

I hope I don't sound like too much of an advocate for down fill pillows I will admit I am biased I believe they are the best to sleep with, but shredded natural latex fills (price difference in a pillow between all natural and synthetic blend is usually negligible) is a great fill, it at least gives you some of the flexibility of the down albeit with more bounce/support factor. I also believe that a truly natural rubber/latex foam pillow will reduce allergens more than blended latex products due to higher natural protein contents in the foam. It is the protein in natural latex that fights off the growth of most types of parasites.

Alternately you could look at wool filled types of pillows however I have never been a personal fan of them (while many do love them) they are not nearly as flexible and tend to have a very firm feel to them.

Thank you Phoenix for elaborating on the details about polyurethane foams and any natural claims, its not to say there are not good quality options in those materials but its really important you get what you want and are not mislead by a lot of these 'natural' claims.

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Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 07 Oct 2013 21:19 #6

  • DahliaM
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Hi budgy,

Thanks for your comments; that was an interesting point about the difference between down and feather pillows for allergen-sensitive people. Do you think you could expand a little as to why you think down fill pillows are the best to sleep with? I'm curious, having never tried a down pillow.

I am a personal fan of wool fill pillows. Wool bolas pillows have little puffs of wool instead of wool batting, and are pretty flexible and soft.

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Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 08 Oct 2013 06:09 #7

  • Clawdia
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I have more allergies than anyone could shake a stick at (including sunlight!), but my down pillows are some of my favorite possessions and have never caused a problem. I'll admit I'm a pillow snob - I think to be called a "down" pillow, pillows have to contain no less than 75% down (with the remainder being feathers) - and I've had good luck with down pillows from Downlite, among other sellers. I always buy white goose down, as opposed to grey goose down or duck down, and am always on a perpetual search for the closest thing to a perfect pillow that I can find.

I sleep on either Tencel or bamboo sheets, and have found that Tencel pillowcases seem to keep me from sweating at night. They always feel cool, too, which keeps me from doing the repeated pillow-flip during the night.

When I got a Dunlop mattress last month, I got four latex pillows for half price at the same time - they're great for propping up in bed to read, or when my back hurts sitting on the couch, but not so great for sleeping to me. I hated the feel of the shredded latex pillows that the same store was selling. Pillows are such an individual preference - my husband has always said he could sleep with any pillow, but his face lit up when he tried the latex pillow and he loves his. He says they feel like foam pillows felt when he was a child (we're in our 60s), so after all these years he once again has pillows he loves. The pillows I love are my down pillows. Like I said, though - everyone is different.

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Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 08 Oct 2013 10:13 #8

Hello Dahlia,

I like Clawdia am definitely a pillow snob, in my case I call myself a 'man-princess' haha. Pretty much every pillow other than almost pure down hurts the bones in my ears, I also need to have my arm underneath my pillow to truly feel comfortable which automatically makes almost any pillow far too supportive and harsh to sleep with. High quality down fills have more 'loft' than any other material out there and are far more delicate on the body, they also work in the widest range of sleep positions due to their flexibility.

And yes in Canada legally the pillow must contain more than 75% down to be labelled a down pillow, but there are a lot of places that stretch the truth and blatantly lie about their down fills. The one thing about down that most people will not like is the cost, doing it right is definitely not cheap.

downmark.com/consumer_information/fraud.htm

Check out this website for some really great info on down products and the industry.

downmark.com/consumer_information/down_feather_quality.htm

That being said I know that down is not for everyone.

Good mention about the puff-wool pillows as well, I also sell these pillows and if someone buys wool that is what I recommend, particularly pillows that can be unzipped so you can add/remove fill if need be to adjust the pillow to your own specific needs.

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Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 08 Oct 2013 11:46 #9

  • carpetdenim
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I'm in no way connected to this company or anything, fyi, but a friend told me about these and swears by them. When I upgrade beds (why I'm here looking around) I may get a pair.

www.amazon.com/Buckwheat-Pillow-Organic-Premium-Queen/dp/B007MI2L1Y/ref=pd_sim_hg_4

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Natural/Organic, VOCs, Pillows and otherwise 08 Oct 2013 14:14 #10

  • GrandMasterJ
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Lots of good info here, thanks!

I did take a look at those buckwheat pillows before making this thread but was turned off when people said they were as heavy as a bag of sand and "loud" (which, honestly, I was actively searching for thinking they might be with all those hulls in there). As is, I sleep with ear plugs to keep the noise out so a pillow that is "loud" would be a no-go. The noise would conduct through the jaw to the ears when you have that kind of direct contact. I feel like I'm being picky turning down a pillow for being "loud."

I'll take a look into down. My interest in shredded latex, however, was because it was was anti-microbial but should feel similar to a feather/down pillow.

How does down do on the accretion of bacteria and dust/dust mites? I know dust is a decently heavy allergy of mine and run an air purifier in the room I sleep in.

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