My Own Chemical Sensitivity

I was first introduced to Lifekind by way of my own chemical sensitivity. I was searching for employment with a list of requirements that included a chemical-free work environment, organically based products, and a company with a conscience for helping others. I was thrilled when I learned about Lifekind and found that the company was based in my hometown!

It was only after reading Toxic Bedrooms, written by Lifekind’s president, Walt Bader, that I began to piece together a series of health problems that had plagued me for over two years. It began when I had purchased a new, conventional mattress. The day the mattress arrived I immediately experienced a burning sensation in my eyes and throat. Lucky for me, the mattress company agreed to remove it and replace it with a showroom model that they said had already offgassed. I still didn’t understand what might be in the mattress that was causing such difficulty.

The replacement mattress arrived, and even though it didn’t smell like fresh chemicals, it was so uncomfortable that I went out and naively purchased a memory-foam topper. However, when I removed the memory-foam topper from the plastic wrapping, the chemical smell was so bad I had to take it outside to air. Weeks passed, then months, and still when I went to smell the memory-foam topper it burned my eyes and nose.

With winter coming on, I rolled up the topper with disappointment and put it in the basement. By spring of the next year it had finally offgassed enough for me to place it on my horribly uncomfortable mattress.

In retrospect I realize that for over 20 years I had slept on organic cotton futons, and it had never occurred to me there might be something in a conventional mattress that would affect me so greatly and cause such health issues. But that was exactly the case.

Presently, I am a well-rested sleeper with two Lifekind mattresses. All of the health issues from my past have disappeared and I have found a new purpose in life, where I feel confident helping others in the transition to organic, chemical-free bedding.

-Kimberly, Product Specialist

Could there be a connection?

The other day I heard a colleague say something that made me think. She was talking with a customer and describing today’s “chemical” mattress market as being a lot like the tobacco industry of the fifties. People were told back then that cigarettes weren’t bad for them, the same way today’s consumers are told that chemical flame retardants and formaldehyde-containing memory foam in mattresses aren’t just safe, but can even be good for them — and it worked like a charm. Skyrocketing cancer rates were the result.

Growing up in the seventies, with the Surgeon General’s warning on every cigarette pack, I wondered how Americans of my parents’ generation could have been so naive. How could they not have known that smoking was dangerous? Sure, cigarette ads featured endorsements from beloved movie stars, cartoon characters, even the family physician (“More doctors smoke Camels than any other brand!”), but average people must have known intuitively that something was wrong. Right?

Maybe not.

I’m guessing that Americans back then, like us, wanted to believe that something they enjoyed was safe, and that the government would tell them if it wasn’t. Yesterday’s cigarette ads featuring leading physicians have become today’s two-page layouts for memory-foam mattresses in environmental magazines, targeting a health-oriented clientele that would run in the opposite direction if they knew what memory foam was actually made of.

Hazardous chemicals are a part of almost everything we use, including our mattresses, and cancer rates have never been higher. Could there be a connection? Many consumers don’t want to think so.

After all, the government would tell us if it were dangerous. Right?

(To see test results showing over 60 volatile chemicals emitting from a memory-foam mattress, see Walt Bader’s book Toxic Bedrooms: Your Guide to a Safe Night’s Sleep.)

Sylvia, Sales Supervisor