Hundreds of household items, including furniture, paint and electronics, emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which at high levels can pose health risks.
Hundreds of household items, including furniture, paint and electronics, emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which at high levels can pose health risks. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology have measured the emission rates of the gaseous compounds released by several types of polyurethane mattresses under simulated sleeping conditions, finding levels of some VOCs that could be worrisome for children and infants. However, so far there is no evidence of adverse health effects.
Exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, and for some compounds, even cancer. During sleep, people likely inhale more VOCs because of poor bedroom ventilation and the close proximity of their nose and mouth to mattresses and bedding that emit the compounds. Yael Dubowski and colleagues wanted to measure the levels of several VOCs released by eight different infant, toddler and youth polyurethane mattresses and compare these to the risk levels for the compounds. Also, the researchers wanted to investigate how temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide concentration –– all of which are increased when people lie on a mattress for a few hours compared to the mattress alone –– could affect emissions.
Read more at American Chemical Society