Fiberglass In Mattress - What Should You Do?
Fiberglass can be an aggravating irritant capable of causing extensive damage health-wise. Despite such health risks, popular beddings like Zinus mattresses use these very materials in their construction. Layers of the fiberglass inside such mattresses act as chemical fire retardants —a sophisticated technology that prevents the mattress from bustling into flames, suppose there's a fire outbreak.
While fiberglass in mattresses makes them considerably cheaper options, is it worth the health risks? If you want to know whether fiberglass or a fiberglass free mattress is the way to go, continue reading to find out.
What is Fiberglass?
To begin with, what is fiberglass? For those who don't know, fiberglass is a composite material consisting of two materials—reinforcing plastic and glass together. Not only is this composite material among the most popular flame retardants, but also durable, lightweight, and very easy to mold into any shape.
Notably, one widespread use of fiberglass is insulation—for example, the soft material which looks like cotton candy on the attic walls. Because the material is an excellent type of flame retardant and cost-effective, some mattress manufacturers use it on the inner mattress cover of some mattresses. Remember, even though this is useful, it still poses some health hazards.
Type of Fiberglass
Now that you know what fiberglass is, what are the different types of fiberglass?
- C-glass is profoundly resistant to chemical impact; it's also known as chemical glass.
- A-glass is also resistant to chemicals like C-glass because of its glass fiber composition, which makes it almost similar to window glass. It's also known as alkali glass.
- AE-glass is a popularly known alkali-resistant glass.
- E-glass is an excellent glass insulator, which is why its also known as electrical glass.
- S-glass is commonly identified as structural glass, given its mechanical properties.
Must Mattresses be Flame Retardant?
Consumer Product Safety Commission initiated new standards for mattress flammability in the entire U.S back in 2007. According to CPSC, all mattress makers in the country must ensure their mattresses undergo flammability tests before rolling them out on the market. Also, you should know that CPSC doesn't consider chemicals to be the only kind of fire retardant.
Moreover, the body (CPSC) discourages using any kind of fire retardant technology. And also, they require all mattresses to pass all the testing protocols for compliance purposes. Mattresses that successfully pass these testing protocols must state on their tags that they meet all the federal flammability tests and standards.
Generally, all Zinus mattresses consist of fiberglass in their construction which is why they are much cheaper than other fiberglass-free mattresses. Chemicals such as benzene and antimony were the chemical fire retardants used on most mattresses before the fiberglass era. However, the CPSC deemed these chemicals unsafe for human health.
Fiberglass in mattresses forms a protective layer that prevents the mattresses from burning in case it catches fire. A fiberglass mattress has the fiberglass material woven into it, a common feature you'll notice on, Nectar, Ashley, and Zinus mattresses. But the stretch-knit outer cover lacks fiberglass, making it safe to sleep on.
Do Memory Foam Mattresses Have Fiberglass?
While fiberglass might be a cheaper fire barrier, not all memory foam mattresses sold to customers have fiberglass. There are lots of fiberglass free mattresses sold every year, including these ones. However, you'll pay more compared to the fiberglass ones.
Mattresses that don't have fiberglass use a mixture of silica and wool to create a fire barrier. Memory foam mattress company is a reputable organization known for producing high-quality products. Suppose you don't know how to tell these mattresses apart; we'll take a deep dive into it, as you'll later see.
Why do Some Mattresses like Zinus and other Memory Foam Mattresses use Fiberglass?
As previously mentioned, the Consumer Product Safety Commission requires all mattresses in the U.S. to have a fire retardant mechanism before being cleared for sale. And as you already know, fiberglass is a cost-effective, chemical free option that's an excellent fire retardant. To prevent the mattress from burning upon catching fire, the fiberglass inside melts instead.
In 2002, the U.S. government reported 20,800 fires associated with mattresses. The fires caused more than 300 fatalities and 2,200 injuries with a whopping $104 million in property damage. That's why the CPSC initiated the flammability test standards. Since then, the act has saved more than 270 lives and prevented 1,330 injuries. Ten years later, research indicates an 82% and 34% reduction in deaths and injuries, respectively.
How do you know if you're Buying a Mattress which Contain Fiberglass?
Purchasing a mattress is a huge decision. So, if you've had a terrible ordeal with fiberglass mattresses in the past, then it's crucial to know which mattress contains fiberglass.
Fiberglass is a more refined material directly woven into the mattresses and barely visible to the naked eye. So how can you tell if a mattress contain fiberglass? Product labels, descriptions, and reviews are the primary determinants that'll steer you in the right direction, as outlined below.
Labels of "made in China."
The manufacturing industry in China offers a lot of cost advantages to most companies, including mattress companies. And because of less stringent regulations, it's always at the consumers' expense, thus posing significant health risks.
Polyfoam Based Mattresses
Generally, a genuine memory foam mattress is usually expensive. However, other mattress manufacturers may choose to use polyfoam, which might contain fiberglass and other cheaper materials. They advertise such mattresses as memory foam.
Cheaper mattresses costing $400 and less will most likely contain fiberglass. Also, other more inexpensive mattresses made of potentially harmful materials employ cost-cutting measures as a technique to lower the price.
"don't remove the cover" Label
A mattress label indicating you shouldn't remove the mattress cover clearly doesn't want you to expose the fiberglass. And exposure to these glass fibers may pose significant risks to human health.
It's logical for a customer to refuse a fiberglass mattress and go for a high-quality fiberglass-free mattress. Terms like "glass wool," " silica," and "glass fibers" are commonly used by most mattress companies to mislead buyers purposely. Whenever you notice this in any foam mattress, just know it's a red flag.
Does a fiberglass-free mattress cover exist?
Fiberglass mattresses' inner cover has significant risks health-wise. Because some buyers are aware of such risks, most people are now gravitating towards safer alternative mattress covers like FR socks. Some bedding companies use chemicals in their mattress construction as their ultimate mattress protector against fire.
But we already know the risks these chemicals come with health-wise. If you're looking for natural alternatives, they do exist. Companies like the Beloit mattress use natural materials in their mattresses. If you consider buying from the company, rest assured you'll be purchasing a fiberglass free mattress.
The natural FR mattresses, e.g., precision textiles, are mainly cellulosic fibers that primarily come from sources like; wood, leaves, and barks of plants. Their Fiberglass free mattress covers have the following properties;
- They are entirely fiberglass free
- Don't cause skin irritation
- They are chemical free—no traces of chemical finishes
- They have high char strength making them excellent mattress protectors against fire.
Health Effects of Fiberglass
Exposure to fiberglass has various health effects depending on the type of exposure and the size of the fibers. Researchers found the larger fibers to cause eye, skin, and some parts of the respiratory tract irritation. Other possible effects include;
- After a fiberglass exposure, your eyes may be irritated and turn red.
- Rashes may appear on the surface of your skin. The good thing is that touching fiberglass doesn't have long-term health effects.
- Swallowing the fiberglass may cause stomach irritation but temporarily.
- You may also experience soreness in your throat or nose if you inhale the fibers.
Above are the most common effects of tiny fibers. However, little is known about the health effects associated with smaller fibers. According to some researchers, the smaller fibers, when inhaled, can reach the sensitive inner parts of the lungs causing severe health damage.
Those at risk of long-term exposure to fiberglass are those who directly work with this material daily in their workplaces or homes. If you're wondering, there is no evidence indicating fiberglass causes cancer in humans.
While certain animal research studies showed an increased risk of cancer when fiberglass was implanted in rats' lung tissues, the evidence was inconclusive due to the method used to plant the glass fibers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer identified some fiberglass fibers as potential cancer-causing agents based on the animal study.
What to do if your Mattress has Fiberglass
By now, you must have checked your mattress to see if it has fiberglass. If yours has, don't panic since fiberglass itself isn't toxic. However, it'll not be very pleasant once it's free from the mattress. So, how can you keep the fiberglass intact within the mattress?
- Use mattress covers: suppose the mattress cover develops a hole, the fiberglass inside can easily escape. Since these mattresses are cheap, their covers are also most likely cheap and less durable compared to the expensive brands. It would be best to cover your mattress with a high-quality mattress protector.
- Never remove the cover: under the mattress cover is a fiberglass layer that acts as a fire retardant layer. If you remove the cover, you risk releasing the fiberglass.
- Replace the mattress: if you don't like the idea of sleeping on a mattress with a fiberglass layer, then you should replace it with a safer option.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Washing off or removing fiberglass from your skin may not steer you clear of health dangers. If you see chronic signs of fiberglass exposure symptoms, you must seek immediate medical attention.
If you have trouble removing fiberglass from your skin, it's imperative you seek your doctor's advice. That's because deeply embedded fibers of this material can cause infections treatable by antibiotics. Common skin infections may include; pus, warmth around affected areas, and swelling.
Generally, bedding such as a zinus mattress may be dangerous depending on the handling. Once you know how health-damaging fiberglass can be, it can be unsettling to be sleeping every night on such a 'ticking time bomb.' Fiberglass has a finer texture, and it's pointy. Once the pointed fibers escape the mattress, it can be a tiring hassle cleaning up. And since they may end up on your clothes, beddings, carpet, and other places, you might end up paying a fortune to remove them. That's why it's best to buy an expensive mattress with cost-effective maintenance rather than a cheaper option with costly maintenance.
Gabe is the newest member of The Sleep Shop team. If you like the design of The Sleep Shop, give Gabe a thumbs up. He’s a digital marketing and design guru and the brains behind the design and SEO of The Sleep Shop. He also won’t say no to testing a ton of mattresses either, and helps on almost every mattress review.