Infant exposure to emissions of volatile organic compounds from crib mattresses

Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Mar 18;48(6):3541-9. doi: 10.1021/es405625q. Epub 2014 Mar 3.


Infants spend most of their time sleeping and are likely to be exposed to elevated concentrations of chemicals released from their crib mattresses. Small-scale chamber experiments were conducted to determine the area-specific emission rates (SERs) of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a collection of twenty new and used crib mattresses. All mattress samples were found to emit VOCs and the mean values of total VOC (TVOC) SERs were 56 μg/m(2)h at 23 °C and 139 μg/m(2)h at 36 °C. TVOC SERs were greater for new mattresses compared to used ones and were influenced by the type of foam material and the presence of mattress cover layer. A variety of VOCs were identified, with polyurethane foam releasing a greater diversity of VOCs compared to polyester foam. Large-scale chamber experiments were conducted with an infant thermal manikin. TVOC concentrations sampled in the breathing zone and interior pore air of the crib mattress foam were found to be greater than the bulk room air by factors in the range of 1.8 to 2.4 and 7.5 to 21, respectively. The results suggest that crib mattresses are an important source of VOCs and infant exposure to VOCs are possibly elevated in their sleep microenvironments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Beds*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Equipment*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*


  • Volatile Organic Compounds