If you’re buying a mattress, sofa or pillow from someone who tells you it’s chemical-free, please laugh and take your hard-earned money elsewhere. The truth is, there are few things on this planet that are chemical-free—including you and me. Yes, everything is made with or contains chemicals. Anyone who tells you differently is greenwashing—it’s against Federal Trade Commission guidelines, yet it’s still rampant.
Chemical-free, made without chemicals and no chemicals are all unsupportable marketing terms meant to tap into consumer chemophobia. Don’t fall for it.
Did you eat an apple today? Apples are made of these chemicals: water (water is the chemical H2O), vegetable oils, sugars, starch, carotene, tocopherol (E306), riboflavin (E101), nicotinamide, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, ascorbic acid (E300), palmitic acid, stearic acid (E570), oleic acid, linoleic acid, malic acid (E296), salicylic acid, purines, sodium, potassium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorous, chloride, colors and antioxidants.
I love the chart produced by Sense about Science and featured in a Big Think blog by Simon Oxenham that compares the chemical ingredients of apples to candy hearts. The list of chemicals in apples is way longer and on the surface more frightening! Chemophobia has been around a long time, often stoked by media outlets that aim to sensationalize and don’t bother to get the facts.
The CertiPUR-US program is based on good, evidence-based science. We’re proud of that—we don’t need to stretch the truth, use false claims or spread misinformation. Want to see our complete technical guidelines—the criteria a foam family has to meet to earn certification? Read it here.You can count on us for complete transparency.
A foam that has been certified through the CertiPUR-US® program is not chemical free. But it is free of chemicals that have been determined by the GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) to fall into its category 1A or 1B, which are chemicals that may cause cancer, may cause genetic defects or damage fertility or the unborn child. Certified foams are:
- Made without ozone depleters
- Made without PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants
- Made without mercury, lead and other heavy metals
- Made without formaldehyde
- Made without phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- Have low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million)
Our criteria for certification are a living standard, and during the past decade since we were established as a nonprofit foam certification program, we have updated criteria at least once a year to accommodate new findings and regulations and to keep our standard current.
Within the past six months, for instance, we began analyzing foams for an additional phthalate (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity). Other changes make the CertiPUR-US certification program in compliance with the CPSC standard for children’s toys.
The CPSC’s is a high standard and one that I hope will help you feel comfortable purchasing products made with certified foam—in every sense of the word. In future blog posts, I’ll shed light on other potential marketing red flags, such as natural, non-toxic and organic.