Of course, nowadays, we realize that the reason it smelled was because of the chemicals used off-gassing, and that breathing in chemicals is probably not the best idea. But what it highlights is that most all things have some kind of scent to them, some good and some bad.
For example, when you smell a dozen roses, there is a very pleasant scent to them. That is a VOC, and obviously, it's not a toxic scent. Some flowers have a strong scent, and some people are allergic to certain flowers. Scents have a chemical structure to them, as it is the physical material leaching into the air. And while most things do have a scent, not all things have a toxic scent.
Selling bedding and furniture, you deal with a broad spectrum of scents: cotton, latex, kapok, foam, fabrics, stains, etc. One thing that you learn is that there are a lot of smells. And while there are many smells, not all of them are toxic. Working for a company in Hawaii many years ago, selling Tempurpedic mattresses, I did have a consistent flow of customers who reported back that their mattress or pillow was filling their home with a not-so-pleasant odor of chemicals, and some even complained of side affects, such as runny nose, allergy reactions and irritated eyes. At the time it was not widely publicized that the smell could be bad, we just told them to air out the mattress.
But nowadays, we as a society are more informed about environmental issues and how the products we purchase affect our health and indoor air quality. We are learning more about chemicals used in our products and are making more informed and educated choices about what we want in our homes. And manufacturers and companies who are willing to divulge their ingredients and who are willing to subject their products to third party testing are leading the way to substantial change in this industry.
When fresh kapok and cotton pillows arrive in our store, there is a very strong scent to them. Same goes for natural rubber latex products. Even the Bed In A Box.com memory foam mattresses have a light scent. But all of these items do not emit any toxic chemicals, or at least any recognized as carcinogens. This is important to many consumers as we try to lessen our exposure to environmental toxins, and especially parents of small children who shop for their kids. It's also a very important goal of us here at Nest Bedding, to provide alternatives to the plastic/polyester jungle that makes up most of the bedding and mattresses in the marketplace, and to do so in an affordable manner.
So, if your new mattress smells, it doesn't necessarily mean it is a toxic scent, but you should at least know what it is and why it does have the scent it has.