6th June 0206
In the Media

CERTIPUR-US Certification is Sponsored and Funded by Chemical Companies?

LAST UPDATED – Jan 2017.

Polyurethane foams found in mattresses can be pretty unhealthy.

The chemicals used to make these products are known to emit harsh volatile organic compounds (VOCS) we know as chemical fumes.

It should be no surprise that some unhappy customers that purchased and used polyurethane foam products have been experiencing nasty side effects from their new mattress and expressing themselves online.

People are sharing their experience to inform the public.

In the end, it’s not good for the chemical companies associated with polyurethane foams. Foam manufacturers are now trying to influence public perception by becoming certified by the CertiPUR-US standard.

Their goal is to convince the public that CertiPUR-US products are healthy.

Let’s take a look at what CertiPUR-US is…

CertiPUR-US was conceived by the Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) – its members are chemical companies and foam fabricators.

The Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam (AFPF) is a not-for-profit company responsible for registering and maintaining the activities of CertiPUR-US.

Much of the funding for CertiPUR-US is provided by the very same chemical companies that want to convince the public that their chemicals are safe enough to be considered healthy.

Just to name a few of their sponsors and monetary supporters:

Dow Chemical – Polyurethane Chemicals Manufacturer and platinum sponsor

ICL Industrial Products – Chemical Fire Retardant Manufacturer “monetary support

Even one of the elected CertiPUR-US board of directors comes straight from the chemical and foam companies.

CertiPUR-US claim all products that are certified have undergone a vigorously regulated process performed by independent labs, therefore the certified product must be considered healthy.  But, how true is this?

We stacked up the CertiPUR-US standard next to the GreenGuard Gold standard. GreenGuard Gold certification ensures that a product has met some of the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of VOCs into indoor air.

Here is what we found:

Chemical Name  CertiPUR-US [µg/m3]  GreenGuard GOLD [µg/m3]
TVOC 500 200
Formaldehyde 100 9
Benzene 500 16
Toluene 500 150


It is clear that the key VOCs that concern the public are not minimized. One of the main VOCs being discussed today is formaldehyde.

In fact, as per their testing, CertiPUR-US will allow more than 10x the amount of formaldehyde compared to other standards.

Sure, CertiPUR-US standard may be trying to do what they can to minimize the number of harsh VOCs that emit from polyurethane foam and perhaps a step in the right direction. But I  believe that this standard is simply not trying hard enough.

I encourage you to explore our certifications and testing as well as our mattresses.

This article has 31 comments

  1. Bob Luedeka

    Actually, CertiPUR and CertiPUR-US are third-party programs using outside European labs. The standards are very similar to the leading EH&S label programs in the EU. Obtaining certification requires examination of emissions (speciated and total), content analysis, and a set of physical tests to verify that the product will perform in a durable manner. Not all products pass. It’s a tough series of tests. Sponsors have no say in program administration, testing or validation. They simply provide funds to help build recognition. Their particupation helped kick off our validation sampling and testing process. CertiPUR-US is a good step on the path toward sustainability. I hope other industries follow this example and become more proactive. Send me an email if you’d like more information. And thanks for equal time.

    • Andrew

      Hi Bob,
      I’m not sure if you are still willing to discuss the certiPUR standards, but my wife and I are concerned about the scent of an new certipur certified mattress and would like further reassurance that the product we are sleeping on is safe.
      Thank you

  2. Meredith

    I think YOU are confused about where fire-retardants go in a mattress… They are not “usually” mixed in with the foam, although it can be layed within foam (unless the mattress itself is sprayed with chemicals as a fire retardant, then certainly it “gets in” the foam). But fire retardants in a mattress that contains a “natural fiber fire retardant pad” (that is almost all natural) PLUS the Certipur foam ARE INDEED far more healthier than previous polyfoam. No, it still isn’t perfect, but it’s MUCH better!

  3. Jason

    Mattresses are either covered or sprayed with the stuff. The Brits require the foam itself to pass the FR tests.

    They can say the big mac is healthier since they’ve reduced the sugar content in the secret sauce but who are kidding here?

    I guess it all comes down to standards. The EPA believes these chemicals to be safe so who am i to argue 😉

    It comes down to standards we set for ourselves.

  4. Doug Johnston

    It’s a major step in the right direction over previous foams. Most concerned parents will want to know that the foam contains no phthalates (banned by CPSIA in 2009), no formaldehyde, no ozone depleters, no heavy metals, no VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), no PBDE’s, and no off-gassing which is what the Certi-Pur standard maintains.

    • John

      Uh hello?? See the chart up there. Up to 500 total VOCs allowed. That means offgassing. It contains formaldehyde too.

      Offgassing is the whole reason I’m here. I made the mistake of putting my memory foam mattress directly on the floor and closing the door. I woke up getting muscle spasms in my throat and face. Then I started to twitch uncontrollably. I think I had a seizure. Called 911 but recovered after some time in the living room.

      Those foams definitely offgas. Triggers my asthma too when I don’t have a sheet over it. What a horrible experience.

      • Lynn

        John — Thanks for pointing that out to those who missed the chart. It’s nearly impossible to believe any claims that a given mattress is free of harmful VOC’s nowadays. I came here after looking at a Brooklyn Beds “latex” mattress on Wayfair said to be “all latex” when the main part was Centipur. In their Q/A’s section they lie to the customers. The search continues for a somewhat affordable healthy slab of latex….

        • Barb

          I agree. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to wade through all the material I’ve gotten from latex mattress manufacturers trying to find a mattress that is 100% botanical latex foam, and not a blend or a synthetic latex.

  5. Jason

    Read their website more carefully.

    1) They say LOW VOC, NOT NO VOC. What is considered low to them? How strict can the chemical companies standards be??

    2) No PBDE’s. PBDE are used in Fire Retardants. They rarely include fire retardants in the foam itself, it’s always sprayed on afterwords.

    Just because it says there’s no formaldehyde doesn’t mean there is none. It’s just according to their standards.

    Chemical companies are like big tobacco. Why on earth would anyone trust anything they say?

    Read between the lines.

  6. Bob Luedeka, Executive Director

    These are good questions – I appreciate the opportunity to respond:
    “1) They say LOW VOC, NOT NO VOC. What is considered low to them? How strict can the chemical companies standards be??
    2) No PBDE’s. PBDE are used in Fire Retardants. They rarely include fire retardants in the foam itself, it’s always sprayed on afterwords.
    Just because says there’s no formaldehyde doesn’t mean there is none. It’s just according to their standards.
    Chemical companies are like big tobacco. Why on earth would anyone trust anything they say?
    Read between the lines.”

    Answer: 1- Low VOCs vs NO VOCs. Based on good business practices, there is not wiggle room for inaccuracies. We define low VOCs at a level to be in-synch with most independent environmental rating programs such as GreenGuard, EU Flower, Oeko-Tex, Blue Swan, IKEA and others. I can’t think of any product that doesn’t have some level of emissions. Emissions are a natural part of a product’s aging and decay process. Even fresh cut grass or hay has some level of emissions. The level of compliance set by the voluntary CertiPUR-US program is demanding, but it is not zero. Zero is unrealistic and likely unachievable with today’s science and finite testing capabilities.

    Answer 2: For starters, the PBDE that once was used as a fire retardant additive (never sprayed on) in the formualtion of certain types of flexible polyurethane foam – mainly to comply with California flammability requirements – is no longer available and has not been used in the US foam industry since 2005. Because it is possible that some types of discontinued PBDEs may still be manufactured in other countries, third-party testing for PBDEs is required by the CertiPUR-US program.
    – second part of 2 – answer: Formaldehyde has never been used in the manufacture of flexible polyurethane foam. However, like VOCs, there is not a true zero. Part of the challenge in testing is to determine a diminimis (background level) for products that contain carbon and nitrogen content (like cotton, wood, kapok, trees in the forest, latex and polyurethane foam). The new FTC Green Guides Memorandum does not offer a solution to this, other than acknowledge that a diminimis level could be considered for communications purposes as “NO” content. In good faith, we simply state that CertiPUR-US approved foams are not manufactured using formaldehyde and then we require third-party testing to verify that no more than a background level exists.

    Lastly, although chemical companies have provided funding support to help establish the CertiPUR-US program, they have no voice on the board of directors, nor are they involved in setting the voluntary standards that are essential to the credibility of the program. The analytical and emissions testing labs that are used by program participants are completely independent of foam production and chemical supply. Bottom line, flexible polyurethane foam is intended to provide comfort – and comfort is more than a physical characteristic, it’s also a state-of-mind. CertiPUR-US addresses the need for comfort in a proactive and measurable way.

  7. Jason

    I appreciate your feedback Bob.

    Its simply a personal or company decision on how deep we draw the line.

    These standards offer no difference between a natural foam such as latex, to a polyurethane foam since the acceptable traces are set where both pass.

    It would be acurate to identify the standard (example 0.01PPM) or to simply state low _____.

    There isn’t any problem with the creating a certification but if practically all foam pass these standards, what’s the point? It’s just misleading the public into thinking the final product is safe.

  8. Bob Luedeka, Executive Director


    I’ve spoken to the chairman of the CertiPUR-US board and he approved providing CertiPUR-US VOC testing service if you would like to run a sample of your foam product through the small chamber emissions test. If you are interested in receiving an analysis report of possible VOC emissions, we will be happy to cover the cost. You would submit samples directly to your selection of one of the participating European labs (Hall Analytical, LGA or Eurofins) and we’ll send you the instructions for sample preparation.

    Please let me know if you would like to take advantage of this offer.

  9. Jason

    Thank you for the offer. However we are satisfied with our current testing at UCLA. Their test are performed to track traces of 0.000001PPM. With these tests we are able to determine the difference between natural foams like latex and polyurethane foams.

  10. lucy

    do you certify sleepys latex mattress ?

    do you know if their latex mattress is from a natural rubber plant or man made synthetic polyurethene ?? or both..?? if so, what percent is natural from the rubber plant botanical and what percent polyurethene?? need to know thanks

  11. Jason

    No Clue.

    If the salespeople don’t know or don’t have certifications to back up their claims…….run.

  12. jessica

    Low VOC is better than it used to be…I wish we could all have VOC free beds…However, the beds that are VOC free like yours cost an arm, a leg and your first born for the average person like me. So, I would rather have the certi pur bed than the average run of the mill no tested mattress..

  13. Sandy

    I just bought 2 Zedbeds and their foam has the certipur seal but mattresses do not. I thought they did. I wake up with headaches every morning I sleep in the mattress. I do not know what it is causing them, but when I sleep elsewhere in the house, I am fine. I am so disappointed because not only did I spend a lot of money but am unable to thus far get resolution. All I get back is that they have no to no vocs and they very rarely have had anyone complain of smell. I do not know what the certification means really. I am sure it is accurate and good for what ey test for, but in the end there could be other things in memory foam, not tested for that cause issues for some people.
    I wish I wasn’t led to believe there would be minimal to no off gassing, They call it a smell. I wish I didn’t get headaches in it. Because just like someone else posted….comfort is also a state of mind. I do not have a peace about the smell that has given me headaches.

    • Stanley

      ZEDBED has some the the strongest standards in the industry. You do know that even 100% organic mattress have certain smells associated with wool, latex…. My guess is that you just do not care for the smell it has. Also Mattresses are not Certi-pur certified, certi-pur is a polyurethane foam certification. Sorry you are having the headaches but you could be having the same issue on any mattress out there.

  14. green smoke promo codes

    Good help and also links. I’ve found a few things that i think will work. awsome job!!!!

  15. Sue

    Does all certipur-us memory foam MADE IN US?

  16. AbsolutelyOrganicBaby

    The problem with your mattress may not be the foam,(although IMO polyurethane foam is not a healthy product) you may be suffering from the fire retardant chemicals used to meet the federal flammability standards for all mattresses. 🙁

  17. OhMattress

    I see more and more mattress manufacturers use Certipur-US logo but many of them are low end memory foam. I question if the program is reliable and want to know who build it. Where did you find their sponsors? I don’t find them on Certipur-US website.

  18. Kjell

    Can you do an update? It seems that CertiPUR-US has changed over the years, for example, they now require the foam to be manufactured without formaldehyde.

    Perhaps some of their limits have changed as well? (It is supposed to be ‘open’, based on science (which changes as new studies come out) and so on.. 5+ years is a long time in this context.

  19. admin

    Hi Kjell,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    If you visit the Technical Guidelines on the Certipur website (http://certipur.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/0433_CertiPUR-US_Tech_Guide_10.25.pdf) and scroll to page 3, you’ll notice that their independent laboratory emissions testing does confirm that formaldehyde emits from their foam.

    Even though Certipur foam is manufactured without formaldehyde that does not mean formaldehyde is not present as indicated in their report. They could be including ingredients that when mixed creates formaldehyde. It’s unknown.

  20. Stewart Reynolds

    So I see these foam mattresses with CertiPur-US certification and also claim OEKO-TEX Standard 100. I would like y=to know how is anyone sure and is GreenGuard any better?

    All you get is lies from every which angle it seems. Everyone you ask seems to have a vested interest in lying or concealing chemicals or manufacturing processes along with country of origin with the foams that are sold. Here is a link of an example. Let me know if these mattresses are basically chemical sleep slabs.

    Lets say that you get one that isn’t completely saturated with carcinogens and other volatile chemicals, how are you or anyone assured that the consistency of quality is produced throughout or do you just have to “get lucky” and get one of the few that aren’t? I’ve damn near given up on even looking for a bed. Even Tempur-pedic has issues.

  21. prettylittleswitch.tumblr.com

    Just want to say your article is as amazing.
    The clearness in your post is simply nice and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed
    to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue
    the gratifying work.

  22. Dave J

    The CertiPur US concept seems unethical and sick to me. You’re basically saying, if you are poor, you get product for your baby that contain dangerous chemicals. But if you are rich and scared of cancer, you can pay 3 times more money for a product that is ‘safer’. It would be like if companies could still sell asbestos, but only to poor people. If these companies are so unethical that they produce dangerous products for your children, why would anyone believe that they would monitor themselves; for more money. Sad

  23. Linda Stewart

    My husband ended up in the ER after a terrible headache turned into violent nausea. Several tests and CT scan left the doctors scratching their heads, next would be a spinal tap to check for deeper issues. My husband opted out and for the next two days his symptoms continued. No fever led me to think of an allergy. I realized we had installed a CertiPUR Us memory foam mattress, had slept on it 5 days. We stopped, the next morning was the first morning my husband wasn’t violently ill. It’s been two weeks out of work, weakness, low blood pressure, flashing colored lights in his left eye, nausea, and the terrible headache has been slow to leave him. That mattress poisoned him. Terrible to think of the people sleeping on them without realizing the danger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *