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The gel mattress enhancer has a strong odor. Will this go away?‏

The gel mattress enhancer on my Sleep Studio Sleep Joy mattress has a strong odor. Will this go away?

Memory foam off gasses the toxic chemicals from which it’s made. It will continue to do so for some time, although the initial strong acrid smell will dissipate in a while. Most common reaction is headache, although much worse side effects have been reported. My advice for the sake of your respiratory health, is to get rid of it.
This was a question posed on goodbed.com…and my response to it.
Here is the exchange that followed between an unidentified goodbed employee and myself.
Hi Peter — That is a pretty grim recommendation…! Are you aware of any official medical reports citing respiratory problems or other side effects that have been linked to memory foam, or are you referring to anecdotal reports from your customers?
Thousands of consumers reports from all over the country, spanning the 11 years I’ve been blogging. The most common complaint is sinus headache. The worst I heard was bleeding sinuses….with plenty of asthmatics reporting difficulty breathing. The toxic chemicals used can be found on the net. My blogs draw interest and questions from all over the world, giving me a rather interesting overview. Those who have experienced the effects of memory foam’s toxic fumes, and I, seem to be the only people aware of the problem. I doubt, very much, that anyone on an official medical level know anything about it.

Thanks Peter. Those do sound like alarming experiences. I just wish there was a way to provide people some more context. You refer to thousands of consumers, but of course there have been many millions of these products sold and certainly the majority have no such complaints. So there’s a question of prevalence, but even moreso there’s the question of correlation vs. causality, which is impossible to assess without a control group. Also, I’m sure that not all foams are created equal on this front, so there’s an open question as to which foams or brands are more likely to have this problem.

In short, we agree with making people aware of possible issues, but at the same time think it’s equally important to provide perspective as to what we know and what we don’t know. Otherwise, we are simply sensationalizing the concerns, which IMHO is no better than what marketers do.

“Thousands” from the millions sold are finding their way to my blog alone. I’m certainly not hearing from everyone. The reports to me are so consistently bad, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn people who ask about it. The physical danger from the off gassing of the toxic chemical from which it’s made is only part of the memory foam problem. It doesn’t hold up worth a damn, making it a very poor value. When you have the choice of chemical free, long lasting latex, why opt for the far inferior memory foam? Memory foam is so popular because of the unrelenting advertising that’s behind it. It amounts to no less than brain washing of the American public….THAT’S what marketers do! What I do, isn’t at all the same thing. They’re hyping dangerous junk. Warning about it and offering a safe, high quality alternative, is what I do.

Yes, understood. Our only point is that from what we see, it appears to be a small self-selected minority of people that are reporting these problems — to anyone. When we survey customers broadly about their mattress, memory foam mattresses tend to rate quite well, certainly no worse than other major types, including latex. So, while memory foam sales have certainly been sparked by advertising, the overall customer satisfaction seems to be driven by most people having a positive experience with the product. So we feel it’s important to provide this perspective.

Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can consider “thousands” of complaints to be a small self-selected group of people. Out of the millions who bought, how many more thousands, or even millions felt they had nowhere to turn? I am but one man. I don’t advertise. And yet, thousands of unhappy memory foam customers have found me. To add perspective, I’ve noticed that much of the positive reviews are from new owners. Also, those who are most happy, long term, are people who are young and fit. Older, heavier people with any sort of back problem are much more likely to complain…after being told that memory foam will solve their problem. In these cases, memory foam does not deliver as promised. Memory foam enhances the industry’s attempts to sell more mattresses more frequently to the same people. First going one sided, then adding more and more memory foam has changed this industry from a legitimate business to one akin to a bunch of snake oil salesmen…highlighting P.T. Barnum’s assessment of the buying public, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. Those pushing memory foam, tap into that market.

OK, thanks Peter. I think we’ve covered this adequately. To be clear, we aren’t trying to diminish the importance of any bad experiences that some customers have had. We only wanted to put it in a broader perspective which is that we currently see no evidence that the average customer has a bad experience with memory foam, given the overall satisfaction levels with memory foam products. We will definitely keep our eyes peeled for trends relating specifically to older customers or ones that suffer from back pain.

Thanks, Pete

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