Would you ever willingly sleep on glass shavings for any reason? No, but do you know there could be tiny shards on literally every surface, including your mattress. Due to standard flammability standards, many bed companies use fiberglass for fireproof sleep products and meet the industry guidelines.
About 80% of companies use fiberglass in mattresses mixed with other chemicals such as modacrylic. It is typically in the top layer of the mattress and used for insulation, to meet industry standards, provide a cheaper fire retardant than natural materials, and is safer than using chemicals.
Since it can become airborne if exposed to an open environment and leading you to inhale it. However, breathing in fiberglass could be hazardous for your health. That is why smaller brands use different names for it, such as silica, to brush off the fact.
One family reported that when they washed their silica-based mattress cover, tiny fiberglass pieces got deposited over the room and air. It was even on their clothes, causing itchiness and difficulty in breathing.
However, these brands may not mention fiberglass’s use but would strictly prohibit you from removing the top cover and emphasizing spot cleaning.
Did You Know: Fiberglass Is In The Mattress Top Layer?
In the mid 20th century, fiberglass became a preeminent insulating material in the US. The construction industry used fiberglass fillings in wall cavities for energy efficiency, improved comfort, and acoustical purposes.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that flocked fiberglass fabrics were used in mattress ticking for their remarkable fireproof properties. Fiberglass is also heat-resistant, making it a suitable choice for sleep temperature regulation.
It is usually mixed with other components to minimize its side-effect. Although with time, these materials wear off and you are left with tiny strands of glass, which could be life-threatening to sleep on.
Regular foam mattresses use Flame Retardant sock to meet the US federal regulations for mattress flammability. Few companies use toxic chemicals as a fire barrier, but they pose health risks.
This is why fiberglass is considered a safer option as it will not harm unless exposed to open-air. A fiberglass-based sock stifles the presence of oxygen, thus slowing down the combustion of a mattress.
It is a synthetic, cheaper alternative yet offers the required level of protection. People also refer to FR socks as silica socks as the primary component contains silicon oxide polymer with a high melting point.
However, they can wreak havoc in homes, especially when placed in open spaces. The air tends to expel those time shards into the environment and unprotected surfaces.
When inhaled, these glass pieces can enter your lung and cause respiratory issues. Those with sensitive skin can suffer from itchiness and irritation.
But the mattress industry continues its usage, which prompted many consumers to file a reclaim for return or full refund. In many cases, such claims turn void as companies are not liable to reveal the type of fire barrier used in their mattresses.
Why Do Manufacturers Use FiberGlass in Mattresses
The regular mattresses that you find on Amazon and other online retails shops offered at unbelievable prices seem like a fair deal. Why would you want to spend thousands of dollars when you can get the same thing in a few hundred dollars?
The construction and components are quite similar, but it’s only the brand name that is different. That is not the case — many such companies use hazardous chemicals or potentially dangerous materials such as fiberglass in the top layer.
Although fiberglass poses a significant threat to human health, it is still commonly used by mattress manufacturers. Why do regulatory bodies not take action and ban their use is a debate for another time.
Here, we have discussed a few of the most common reasons why compel mattress manufacturers use fiberglass fire barriers in sleep products.
- For Insulation
Fiberglass is a human-made material known for its exceptional heat-resistant properties. The components of fiberglass are bad conductors of heat. Therefore it’s an ideal insulator. This proprietary product is standard in foam mattresses due to several benefits.
Foam, due to its polymerized structure, traps body heat, causing disturbed sleep all night long. The makers weave the fiberglass sheet to regulate sleep temperature, minimize flammability, and wick away moisture.
- To Meet Industry Standards
In the US, mattress companies must use fire barriers in their products. After manufacturing the mattress, it goes for lab testing to examine the fireproof properties. Only after that, the federal regulatory body provides approval.
However, there is a downside to it. The lab tests only ensure the mattress meets the set flammability standards. It doesn’t care about the components used as flame retardants and the threat they could pose on human health.
- Cheaper Alternative to Natural Flame Retardants
There are various types of flame retardants available in the market. Silica or fiberglass is one of the cheapest alternatives. They are easy to manufacture, long-lasting, and readily available due to widespread consumption.
Although it is quite low-cost, it can cause or aggravate many health problems. Therefore, companies around the globe put a warning tag and prohibit you from removing the mattress cover even for washing.
- Safer Than Chemicals
Unless exposed to open air, fiberglass is quite safe. It could be a risk-free fire barrier if embedded deeper in the mattress. On the other hand, chemical-based flame retardants are toxic and proven carcinogens.
However, if your skin gets in contact with the fiberglass slivers, you are bound to suffer from itchiness lasting for hours or days.
Types of Mattresses Containing FiberGlass
Nevertheless, the use of fiberglass as a flame retardant is common but not in all mattress types. Spring units and organic latex mattresses are free of it —– they use natural products such as wool batting in the FR socks. However, natural and organic fire barriers are expensive and rarely used.
However, synthetic foam mattresses that make sleepers hot require fiberglass FR sock due to their closed-cell structure.
Polyfoam and memory foam mattresses are susceptible to heat absorption, which leads to sleep difficulty and an indented slumber area.
Foam is also a combustible material, and thus to ensure safety, federal law requires manufacturers to use flame retardants.
Since chemicals are toxic and natural materials expensive, many famous brands opt for fiberglass as a fire barrier to keep the price low.
If you are looking for a fiberglass free mattress, then avoid using the following brands.
Zinus is facing a lawsuit with plaintiffs claiming that its mattresses release hazardous fiberglass. The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff’s entire home is covered with tiny fiberglass shards and caused high-risk injuries.
Zinus is a South Korean mattress e-commerce brand offering a wide range of foam, innerspring, and hybrid beds.
However, Zinus beds could cost you as low as $200 for a queen size, making it one of the cheapest brands globally.
However, the company has received hundreds of 1-star ratings and negative reviews online. You can see fiberglass crystals on the mattress surface even before unpacking it entirely.
This could cause severe health issues such as difficulty in breathing, contact dermatitis, and red eyes.
LinenSpa is a top-seller brand in the memory foam and innerspring hybrid category with around 13000+ units sold per month. The company aims to provide quality mattresses at a price that everyone can afford.
It is also known for its responsive customer care and aesthetically appealing sleep products.
Although the company uses fiberglass fire retardant in most of its mattresses, it has received limited negative reviews. One complainant experienced severe itchiness, bronchitis, and cystic acne while sleeping on the mattress after removing the top cover.
The plaintiff removed the zippered cover for washing and encountered fiberglass contamination in the air and other surfaces such as sofa, carpets, and clothes.
It was challenging to get rid of these tiny shards and required disposal of quite a few furniture, causing financial loss, emotional and physical trauma.
Lucid has been one of the best-selling brands across America. It has three different varieties, including memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses. However, its memory foam mattresses are highly popular among budget-conscious shoppers.
However, you get what you pay for. Many customers have experienced sagging and durability issues, while few have also complained about the FR sock.
However, the brand is not open about its fiberglass-based fire barrier. Though, the warning tag prohibits removing the fitted-zippered cover.
Sleepers have often found a layer of fiberglass shards just underneath the cover, which becomes porous after a few months.
But the good news is the company also uses cotton treated fire retardant cover in some of its mattresses. The hybrid and latex are safer and durable options as they use cotton mesh and tend to last longer than the memory foam collection.
Since fiberglass is a non-toxic material, it is widely used in American-based mattress brands as well. One such company is Purple; however, the company uses silica FR sock in a much safer way to prevent injuries and certain ailments.
Purple is known for its hyper-elastic polymer proprietary foam that offers maximum support and comfort. Most of the sleepers enjoy its feel as this patented foam is relatively cooler than any other in the market.
However, it also uses fiberglass fire retardant to meet the flammability standards. The company infuses the material deeper into the mattress instead of layering it on the top.
You can even find it on their official website that they deeply spin the particles into the core of the yarn, unlike being placed outwards.
Since cheaper brands tend to place it open on the surface; thus, they poke out and spread across the room. However, such anecdotes are quite a few; but as long as you keep the top cover intact, fiberglass will remain harmless.
Proven Health Dangers of Using Fiberglass Insulation
A well-insulated mattress ensures comfortable sleep all night long. Fiberglass is said to meet industry standards and keep the surface cool. However, it poses a significant threat to one’s life.
There have been various cases reported in the US and online, where the complainants have suffered from severe health issues. But the symptoms subsided as soon as the contact with the fiberglass ceased.
However, one can experience severe long-term issues on exposure to fiberglass shards.
- Skin and Eye Irritation:
If fiberglass comes in contact with uncovered skin, it can cause redness, sore skin, and constant itchiness. The tiny slivers cut through your skin and cause discomfort. However, irritation will diminish as soon as you cease its exposure.
The slivers in the air can also cause red, puffy, and watery eyes. The symptoms are quite similar to that of the flu. However, the risk increases if these tiny particles enter your eye and may impair sight.
- Contact Dermatitis
It is a skin rash that one experiences when exposed to an irritant. However, it isn’t contagious and life-threatening but can be a source of discomfort. The tiny particles of fiberglass can irritate the skin and result in contact dermatitis.
However, it will clear up within a few weeks on using wet compresses and anti-itch ointments. But make sure to avoid the aggrieved substance to prevent or taper the effects.
- Respiratory Problems
Airborne tiny particles of glass shards can cause breathing problems upon entering your lungs. They can even cut tissues or penetrate organs; that is why site workers wear safety gear when working with fiberglass battings.
It can also cause irritated throat, nasal passage, and lungs, but again the symptoms will decrease on prevention. Mattress manufacturers claimed that even if inhaled, the fiberglass shards are innocuous as they can easily dissolve in the lungs.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) in the US considers fiberglass dust to be an anticipated human carcinogen. The organization makes it mandatory for home constructors to wear safety masks when using fiberglass. Its report lists styrene, a chemical that fiberglass emits, a cancer-causing substance.
However, it is not possible to put on the safety gear and sleep; thus, many consumers across the globe prefer organic mattresses.
- Are Fiberglass In Mattresses Safe?
Fiberglass is a safe insulator in mattresses until exposed to open air. Being a top layer component, the substance can easily poke out the surface after a few months. Big brands often weave it deeper in the yarn to ensure its tucked safely into the mattress without causing any discomfort to the sleeper.
- Can I Remove Fiberglass From My Home?
When exposed to open-air, fiberglass can deposit on every surface it comes in contact with. Not only this, but fiberglass particles can also become airborne, thus entering your body.
Removing fiberglass from surfaces via vacuum or any DIY process is next to impossible due to its static properties. You need to dispose of the contaminated piece and contact professionals for thorough cleaning.
- What To Do If I Find Fiberglass In My Mattress?
In case you have removed the mattress cover, you would need to throw the mattress out —since they can even penetrate waterproof bed encasements. If it’s glimmering through the surface, you can claim replacement or refund as most sleep surfaces come with a warranty.
- Is There A Memory Foam Mattress Without Fiberglass?
You can find many memory foam beds without fiberglass in the US and other parts of the world. Although they tend to be high-budget mattresses but are safer investments — Amerisleep is a leading mattress brand having an extensive collection of memory foam mattresses.
The company uses patented foam technology and open-cell structure to wick away body heat and moisture.
- What Is An Organic And Natural Alternative To Fiberglass For Temperature Regulation In Mattresses?
If you are looking for a non-toxic, fiberglass-free fire retardant, opt for natural and organic beds. They, typically, contain wool or bamboo batting and cotton-treated mesh covers for temperature regulation.
The average bedroom size in the US has been increasing by staggering amounts over the years and you can see where we are going in my article here.