Consumers like pillow top mattresses as they provide better support than the more traditional inner spring mattress. However, many manufacturers use glues to join the mattress to the pillow top using substances that can be carcinogenic. Jamison, and other manufacturers like Restonic and Justice, now uses safer methods of construction.
During the 1980s and 1990s the adhesive used by mattress manufacturers was based on 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), a chlorinated solvent. TCA adhesive was ideal as it evaporated rapidly leaving an instant bond. It also was classed as a low toxin, had no flash point and was not classed as a volatile organic compound – this produces photochemical smog. However, it has one major problem: during the late 1990s it was classed as an ozone depleting substance and production of TCA base adhesives was phased out.
China Adhesive Manufacturers then began offering adhesives based on methylene chloride. Like its predecessor, TCA, METH based adhesive evaporated quickly, had no flash point and cost about the same. Many mattress manufacturers favoured this form of adhesive until METH was shown to be carcinogenic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a regulation on METH that lowered the worker exposure level from 500 ppm to 25 ppm. Many still feel that the use of METH should be avoided altogether but sadly many mattress manufacturers still bond the mattress and pillow top with this type of adhesive.
The latest innovation is something called hot melt adhesives. These, unlike TCA and METH, are 100 percent solids. The use of hot melt adhesive requires some new equipment and manufacturing techniques; something some mattress manufacturers have been slow or reluctant to adopt.
Jamison has now switched to using hot melt adhesives in the production of their pillow top mattresses.
The change to hot melt adhesives was not easy for Jamison and the company has had to face some problems in using this type of adhesive in its manufacturing process. Clay Finney, the manager of the Jamison mattress plant in Nashville explains that the company had issues with getting enough ‘open time’ with the adhesive to allow the various components of the mattress to be positioned correctly. He also went on to say; ‘Another problem is that the adhesive sometimes remains tacky and the people sleep on the mattress will hear a Velcro sound when they lie down on them.’
But despite these teething problems the use of hot melt adhesives has been successful for Jamison. For one thing, the cost in manufacture using hot melt adhesives was comparable to that of TCA and METH. Also, after purchasing specialized spray guns, it was found that there was less down time in servicing machinery than when the company previously used solvent-based adhesives.
Perhaps the biggest plus is that the workers at Jamison prefer working with hot melt adhesives. For starters, hot melt adhesives pose no risk from cancer and hot melts are better for the environment.
Jamison mattresses aren’t the only ones made using hot melt adhesives. Other companies making good quality mattresses, like Restonic, have also made the switch. Restonic also found that the change presented manufacturing problems initially but, after adjusting their manufacturing process, the cost of using holt melt was no more expensive. It is hoped that other mattress manufacturers will eventually abandon METH-based adhesives.
There is no doubt that pillow top mattresses are becoming more popular and mattress manufacturers are having to address the issues of workers’ health and environmental pollution during the manufacturing process. Consumers can make a difference. Next time you buy a pillow top mattress ask how the mattress was bonded to the pillow top. If the sales person can’t provide an answer maybe you shouldn’t buy it, or buy one from a manufacturer that uses safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly adhesives; like a Restonic, or Jamison mattress.