How dangerous is Dacron off-gassing in a child's mattress?


How dangerous is Dacron off-gassing in a child's mattress?

Asked by Matt

We just (as in - it's still on the truck being shipped to us) purchased an innerspring mattress that billed itself as organic for my 4 yr old son. The mattress is made from organic cotton and wool and has a thin layer of Dacron surrounding the innerspring coils. Before I purchased the mattress, I asked the salesperson about the materials in the mattress and he gave me the short list of materials. I was hesitant about Dacron because I'd never heard of it and it didn't sound like a natural product to me. The salesperson assured me that he'd researched Dacron and found that it isn't known to off-gas. He said that, in fact, he used to use yarn bound with glue as a coil cover in his mattresses, but couldn't get the yarn manufacturer to tell him what was in the glue so he switched to safer Dacron. I have since read that Dacron DOES off gas and I'm so disappointed. I would've bought a mattress without it for our son if I had known. Should I spend the mone<

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Mary Cordaro's picture

Dacron is a type of polyester, made for many uses, including fillers suchas synthetic batting inside mattresses. It is made from petroleum productingredients.

In this case, it sounds like the thin layer around the coils is Dacronfiller or batting.

  • It is very difficult to make an inner spring mattresses with no synthetic batting orfoam of any kind, because organic cotton and wool compress and don't offer thecomfort and resilience of polyether fills or polyurethane foam.
  • Because it is muchmore difficult to achieve a comfortable feel without some kind of synthetic fill orfoam, or even natural latex, some organic mattress manufacturers are addingDacron to their organic innerspring mattresses because it is inexpensive, veryresilient and easy to work with.


When it is brand new, Dacron may outgas VOCs, which are gasses fromchemicals that usually emit odors.

  • But VOCs from Dacron should dissipatequickly.
  • The outgassing is the result of the chemicals volatilizing at roomtemperature into a gas, which goes into the air and can be inhaled.

Somechemically sensitive people report that once Dacron is fully aired out or quite old,it no longer bothers them. Since, according to the distributor, there is very littleDacron in your child's mattress, and if your child is not chemically sensitive, theoutgassing will probably dissipate enough within a few days to a few weeks.

Putthe mattress, completely uncovered and on it's side, in a non-bedroom to air outfor a few days, so that the VOCs can dissipate more quickly. Make sure there'sgood airflow around the mattress and good air exchange in the room.

Ask the manufacturer

However, I suggest you go back to the manufacturer to ask the following

  1. Can you provide documentation or a statement from your supplier that theDacron is not treated with any type of organophosphate flame-retardantchemicals?
  2. Can you provide documentation that the mattress passes the governmentrequired flammability test without any flame-retardants?

Here's why:My concern with Dacron is less with potential VOCs, which will quickly dissipategiven the thin layer, and more with possible SVOCs, or semi volatile organiccompounds from flame-retardants made from toxic organophosphate chemicals.


SVOCs from organophosphate flame-retardants do not have an odor, and theynever go away over time.

And mattresses made with even just a small amountof synthetic materials will often not pass government flammability testing withoutorganophosphate flame retardants.

SVOCs from flame-retardants do not become a gas at room temperature that
eventually dissipates.

  • Instead, as the product breaks down over time, the flameretardant chemicals release from the source for the life of the product, andstick to dust, which is inhaled.
  • Most mattress manufacturers have voluntarilydiscontinued one type of flame retardant called PBDE, which is a highly toxicbrominated organophosphate flame retardant.
  • However, if a flame retardantis necessary, due to polyurethane, polyether, or other synthetic ingredientsin the mattress, it may not pass flammability testing without some type oforganophosphate flame retardant.
  • This is certainly true of conventional, syntheticmattresses.

I recommend avoiding organophosphate flame retardants of any kind

Some green chemistry scientists state that the non-brominated and non-chlorinated flame-retardants are of little or no concern from a health standpoint,and treated mattresses may not readily release organophosphate chemicals.

However, the German scientists from the field of Bau-Biologie consider any typeof organophosphate flame retardant as potentially toxic, whether it is brominated,chlorinated, or not, and that any type of organophosphate flame-retardants maybe potentially released from the product and inhaled with dust.

So althoughmany mattress manufacturers no longer use PBDE, one of the most toxic oforganophosphate flame-retardants, I recommend not purchasing a mattress withany organophosphate flame retardant of any kind.

Look for latex or flame retardant free Dacron

Hopefully the manufacturer of your child's mattress uses flame-retardant freeDacron, and passes the government flammability tests without any flame-retardants. But double-check to be sure.

And in the future, purchase either organicnatural latex mattresses, or 100% natural organic inner spring mattresses, madewith only wool, cotton, and/or no foam or fillers other than natural latex instead ofDacron.

A completely natural mattress made from organic and/or chemical freematerials is preferable.

For more information:

Read Greenpeace's Consuming Chemicals Report hereandGreenpeace's House Dust 2 Report here.

Also, check the Sick Dust Report here.