Unveiling the Environmental Toxins that Impact Fertility: A Closer Look at Synthetic Pillow Chemicals and why natural Wool Pillows are better.
It may seem odd to write a post about pillows and how they impact fertility. It might even seem like a stretch. Here’s why it’s not.
If you consider that Americans spend an average of 7 hours a night face-to-pillow then it really matters what chemicals and toxins you are coming into contact with. Consider it this way. There is nothing your face spends more time rubbed up against than your pillow. That means you’ll have 7 hours on a daily basis to breathe in and absorb whatever chemicals are in your pillow. That’s a lot of time.
Understanding Environmental Toxins and Fertility:
Environmental toxins are substances present in our surroundings that can potentially harm our health. These toxins can enter our bodies through various routes, including ingestion, inhalation, and absorption through the skin. In this article I want to focus on what gets absorbed through the skin and what gets inhaled.
Chemicals Found in Synthetic Pillows:
Synthetic pillows are often made from materials such as polyester, polyurethane foam, and memory foam. Yes, these are typically the cheapest materials to make pillows out of, but they have a cost. Let’s go through them one by one.
- Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs):
PBDEs are flame retardant chemicals used in some synthetic pillows. Because these synthetic pillows are so flammable it’s required to use some type of flame retardant. And, as a side note, one of the reasons we love wool so much is it’s not nearly as flammable. These flame retardant chemicals have been associated with adverse effects on reproductive health, including decreased sperm quality and hormone disruption. Studies have also linked PBDE exposure to impaired fertility in women. What’s even more concerning is that in one study it was shown that 97% of Americans have detectable levels (See first NCBI study linked below).
Here are some studies on this:
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs):
VOCs are chemicals that can off-gas from synthetic materials, including pillows. Common VOCs found in synthetic pillows include formaldehyde and toluene. Formaldehyde needs little explanation as it’s a common carcinogen. Toluene diisocyanate (TDI) is used in memory foam production and is toxic when consumed in large quantities. Prolonged exposure to both of these chemicals has been linked to reproductive issues, including decreased sperm quality and hormonal imbalance.
Most manufacturers do get their pillows checked for the above chemicals before shipping them to consumers. Some will even use third party testers to confirm that their pillows don’t have any noticeable levels of chemical leakage. But that all being said, the original product is still made with nasty stuff. Wool pillows on the other hand are just wool and are naturally non-toxic.
Here are some studies on this:
Phthalates are plasticizers used in various products, including synthetic pillows. Their main property is that they make plastics (synthetic pillows) more durable. The downside for humans is that these chemicals can disrupt hormone functions, which in turn can hurt reproductive capacity. Studies suggest that exposure to phthalates may contribute to decreased fertility and adverse effects on fertility, decreasing egg count in females and sperm quality in males.
Choosing Healthier Alternatives:
One of the main reasons the Woolshire was started was because we didn’t think it was a good idea having synthetic chemicals in our home, and especially not in our pillows. We also had concerns about fertility. While it is true that manufacturers claim that these chemicals don't off-gas noticeable amounts, the chemicals they're using have only been used for the last few decades and we don't know what the long term consequences will be. We chose to not take the risk and to use wool instead.
Natural Wool Pillows:
The beauty of using wool pillows is that they are naturally non-toxic. Even compared to their down counterparts they often rank better. Down needs to be treated with flame retardant so can have the same nasty stuff as synthetic pillows. Wool on the other hand doesn’t burn nearly as easy so in turn doesn’t need the chemical “neutering”. Forgive the pun.
It’s hard to compete with synthetic pillows in regards to affordability. But cheap things come with a cost. In this case the cost is all the nasty chemicals that are used to make these types of pillows. The other cost could be your fertility.