How Toxic Is Your Current Pillow?

Our food choices are often made from our need to keep our bodies free from impurities, toxins, or harmful chemicals. But how often do you think about what you put your head on to sleep at night?

Your pillow might have been made with harsh chemicals or chemical processes that could be damaging to your body over long periods. In this article, you will learn how your pillow can be toxic and what you can do to try and have healthier sleep every night. 

Hidden Toxic Properties of Your Pillows

Every company manufactures their pillows differently, so the level of hidden toxicity will fluctuate with every pillow brand. Many so-called organic pillows use organic materials but will treat those materials with many chemicals through their various manufacturing processes. 

Flame retardants, for example, can have traces of toxicity and is a process many “organic” pillows undergo. By law, memory foam used to contain flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (or PBDEs). PBDEs have been shown to affect hormone production, which can have health implications if exposed to PBDEs over long periods.1 Most pillow manufacturers have phased out the most carcinogenic PBDEs, but it’s best to check with the manufacturer to know if any flame retardants are present. 

You might have noticed that some pillows have a chemical smell, called “off-gassing.” That is due to volatile organic compounds (or VOCs). VOCs can also be odorless, which can mislead you into thinking that your pillow toxin level may not be harmful. Studies have shown that VOCs may worsen asthma or allergic symptoms.2 While more information is needed, a good rule of thumb is to avoid those types of pillows, if it is a concern. 

Pillow manufacturers that produce pillows that contain flame retardants or VOCs may employ perfumes or deodorizers. These chemicals are used to mask any “chemical smell” that is emitted from the pillow. While perfumes and deodorizers aren’t formulated to be toxic, they can often be industrial strength and not something that you want to inhale every night. This may be true for those with sensitive breathing issues, especially.  

What Kind of Pillows Are Most Toxic?

One thing to keep in mind is that every pillow is going to have at least one chemical element involved. It’s important, however, to know which kinds of chemicals are present in each pillow type. There are many different types of pillow filler or methods of making pillows — each has its level of toxicity. 

Memory foam pillows contain the most chemicals. Some memory foam pillow manufacturers claim to be soy-based, but even those will have a traceable amount of petroleum used to make them. If you are concerned about the presence of chemicals, memory foam pillows might not be the best choice for you. 

Feather and down pillows have less toxicity than memory foam but are oftentimes cleaned thoroughly with industrial-strength detergents and treated with deodorizers. However, feather and down pillows don’t last as long as latex, despite their relatively low levels of toxicity. Take into consideration how much value you want to get from your pillow — feather and down pillows won’t yield the best return in terms of longevity. 

Latex pillows are made with fewer chemicals, especially if the latex is naturally-derived. JUVEA™ pillows, for example, are made with 100% Talalay latex, which is harvested from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree, and aren’t treated with harmful chemicals, creating the healthiest non-toxic pillow for you.  

When You’re Looking for a Toxin-Free Pillow

A pillow ought to be an investment. For the amount of time you interact with your bedding, you deserve quality products that encourage healthy, toxin-free sleep. Here are some key factors to look out for when buying a new pillow:

  • Find a pillow that is petroleum-free, harmful chemical-free, VOC-free
  • Be sure that the pillow is hypoallergenic
  • Look for pillows that are vegan and not just “organic”

Check out our collection of pillows that all use 100% Talalay latex. Our pillows are vacuumed, flash-frozen, heated, and treated for allergen proteins for a purer night’s sleep. 

Sources:

1. Anderson, H., Turyk, M., Persky, V., Imm, P., Knobeloch, L., & Chatterton, R. (2008). Hormone Disruption by PBDEs in Adult Male Sport Fish Consumers. Environmental Health Perspectives, 16(12). Retrieved from https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.11707

2. Siebers, R.W., Crane, J. (2011). Does Bedding Affect the Airway and Allergy?. The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2(2). Retrieved from https://www.theijoem.com/ijoem/index.php/ijoem/article/view/68/163