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Foundation question 25 Feb 2014 10:20 #1

Hi, Phoenix:

This is kind of an involved question, so please bear with me! Basically, I'm trying to figure out whether I need to replace a foundation in addition to a mattress.

I'm buying a new twin mattress for a 10-year old boy whose body doesn't clear out toxins as effectively as most people's bodies do (we know this from lab tests). The chemicals he's exposed to tend to stick with him for a long time, so we want to avoid them to begin with (as much as possible). The mattress we have now is a hand-me-down Englander Back Posture Super Firm that is probably around 30 years old. (It was just a guest bed for probably 20 of those years.) It has a matching foundation that's equally old. The foundation is really heavy, seems to be thick wood construction, and appears to be in good shape (no sagging, etc.). But what concerns me is that there seems to be quite a thick layer of some kind of foam on top of the wood (next to the mattress).

I want to get rid of the old Englander mattress due to concern that it's mostly dust mites at this stage and because I'm worried about foam breaking down and chemicals (either from the foam or the fire retardant that I assume is on there) getting into my son's system. I'm planning on replacing the conventional mattress with a wool mattress (perhaps a cotton/wool mattress from My Green Mattress, which seems to have some affordable options).

So my question is, would you recommend that I replace the foundation at the same time? Tim Masters (who was very helpful) thought that older foundations wouldn't have fire retardant chemical concerns, but I hadn't checked the brand and condition of the foundation yet when I spoke with him, and so hadn't discovered the foam issue.

I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts as well as his.

Many thanks!

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Foundation question 25 Feb 2014 13:18 #2

Hi lanzmum,

So my question is, would you recommend that I replace the foundation at the same time? Tim Masters (who was very helpful) thought that older foundations wouldn't have fire retardant chemical concerns, but I hadn't checked the brand and condition of the foundation yet when I spoke with him, and so hadn't discovered the foam issue.


If your foundation is 30 years old and has polyfoam inside it I would consider removing the polyfoam at least (if possible) or replacing it because at that time some of the polyfoam included chemicals (such as PBDE's ) that are no longer used in North American foam manufacturing because of toxicity issues ( see here ) and the breakdown of the older polyfoam could accelerate their release in the dust particles.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Foundation question 27 Feb 2014 10:15 #3

Hi, Phoenix:

Thank you for your reply, and also for performing a valuable public service.

Now I've made a small exploratory incision in the covering of the old foundation, and it looks like there's a sheet of solid something (plywood or other smooth wood-like substance) under the layer of foam. So it might well be possible just to remove the foam and fabric cover and use the remaining foundation. But, what about the mold, mildew and dust mite concern? I've read several of your foundation posts, and noted the possibility that a solid (non-slatted) foundation might increase risk of mold and mildew, particularly in a humid climate like mine. (On the other hand, the mattress will be on the second floor, not in the basement.) I haven't found any information specifically addressing the risk of mold, mildew and mites with a wool/cotton mattress (no latex) like I plan to buy, on a non-slatted foundation.

I saw the bed rug option, to put on top of the solid foundation to increase air circulation, but that appears to run around $99, whereas a new foundation from MyGreenMattress would run around $145 when purchased with twin mattress. I know there are a lot of variables I haven't addressed, like how sweaty the sleeper is (not very, I guess), but how worried would you be about putting a wool/cotton mattress directly on a non-slatted wood foundation?

Many thanks.

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Foundation question 27 Feb 2014 11:05 #4

Hi lanzmum,

But, what about the mold, mildew and dust mite concern? I've read several of your foundation posts, and noted the possibility that a solid (non-slatted) foundation might increase risk of mold and mildew, particularly in a humid climate like mine.


It sounds like you've read this already but there is more about this in post #10 here . If you believe that your combined "risk factors" justify it or if you have had any mold or mildew issues in your home then you could always add a bed rug on top of the solid surface.

If your mattress uses wool in the top layer under a cotton fabric then you would probably have less reason to worry because wool is very breathable and resistant to mold and mildew ... particularly if you air it out in the sun on occasion. It may also be worth talking to the manufacturer of your mattress to see what they think about your options because they will be more familiar with it than anyone else.

In the end ... this is really a "best judgement" call. I don't think you can quantify the risk exactly but I would also consider that how you feel about your choice and how much you may "worry" about it would also be important. If I was in your shoes I would go with the suggestions of the manufacturer and since a solid platform is very supportive ... if yours is in good condition I would probably consider the bed rug if you think the risk justifies the extra cost.

Phoenix
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