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The disadvantages of polyurethane foam mattresses

Updated April 17, 2017

Polyurethane foam has been used for cushions and mattresses since the 1950s, with a more recent advancement in the form of "memory-foam" mattresses and toppers. Polyurethane mattresses are available in many grades of quality, density and firmness from department stores and seemingly ubiquitous memory-foam stores. If you're considering a purchase, there are disadvantages to polyurethane foam products that you should keep in mind.

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Polyurethane foam absorbs and stores body heat. Trying to sleep on top of a slab of foam during warm summers can make for a hot and uncomfortable night. Memory foam also may eventually lose its ability to spring back to its original shape, causing depressed areas in the mattress.


A mattress constructed of polyurethane layers can give off chemical odours and fumes. This is especially pronounced with some memory foam mattresses. Some people may simply find the odour objectionable, while others may become ill with prolonged exposure.


Cheaper polyurethane mattresses can gradually disintegrate and lose their quality of support as they age. Inexpensive models without memory foam may be light and insubstantial with no edge support, skittering around as pressure is put on one spot.

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About the Author

Maxfield Carroll is a writer and artist whose work has appeared on various websites and in newspapers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and journalism.

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