So are memory foam mattresses toxic? Are chemicals and VOC’s found in mattresses safe?

We at Essentia make organic foam, so we’re privy to a lot of what goes into foam mattresses, the good and the bad.

All foams, natural or synthetic, have chemical contents. That's just the reality of making foam. Natural foam is obviously much cleaner, and uses minimal components but some stabilizers are necessary to create a durable foam. 

Essentia is a GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic facility. This means Essentia goes through rigorous audits and sets his standards in order to manufacture organic finished goods. 

Our Beyond Latex slow response organic latex foam is made with >95% certified organic latex. This means we are using minimal amounts of stabilizers in the making of our foam for some of the purest latex foams you can sleep on. Our production process follows a globally recognized standard for organically grown latex, and certifies a clear path from farmer to factory ensuring organic processing and manufacturing. 

This means if you are looking for an organic latex, organic memory foam, or a more natural memory foam you've come to the right place.

By-the-way, you're not alone with your concerns to want to avoid chemicals. Today almost every item in you home must be treated with a flame retardant, but there are healthier ways of achieving this safety standard. 

Fire retardants in mattresses, couches and kids pajamas explains Senator Durbin.


VOC's (volatile organic compounds) can now be found in nearly all common household products; from carpets to microwaves, paints, couches... including mattresses according to the EPA.

With chemicals and pesticides now being found in umbilical cord blood, chemicals are becoming a concern for many...and rightly so.

Are mattresses safe? Really safe? Safe for Kids, Adults...Dogs?

The Problem with Most Memory Foam Mattresses

As we mentioned earlier, mattress manufacturers aren't always required to provide full transparency about the materials in their products. While you'll often find information about the inner filling, like polyurethane foam, listed on the tag, there's usually no obligation to disclose the specific flame retardants used. 

This lack of transparency can leave consumers uncertain about what's inside their mattresses. What's more, some of these undisclosed components could potentially be harmful to both our health and the environment. Let's break it down:

  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Many mattresses with polyurethane foam can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, sometimes for extended periods. Exposure to certain VOCs may lead to respiratory irritation, trigger asthma symptoms, and even increase the long-term risk of cancer. Even mattresses labeled as "memory foam" typically contain polyurethane foam, which emits VOCs.

  2. Undisclosed Fragrances: Mattresses often release "fragrance," a mix of thousands of chemicals used to mask odors from production. However, these added fragrances can cause allergic reactions and sometimes contain hormone-disrupting phthalates.

  3. Flame Retardants: Some states like California, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Vermont, and Washington have started banning certain types and levels of chemical flame retardants due to potential harm to reproductive and nervous systems. However, mattresses treated with harmful flame retardants, like antimony (a cancer-causing heavy metal), are still available in many places. Unlike VOCs, flame retardants can't be easily removed from a product; they leach slowly over time, posing a more persistent problem.

  4. Fiberglass: In some cases, fiberglass is used as a flame retardant. Exposure to fiberglass could lead to rashes, respiratory irritation, and even property damage. California is the first state to take the steps to ban fiberglass from mattresses and upholstered furniture, as well as prohibiting the use of fiberglass in repairing or reupholstering these items. 

  5. PVC or Vinyl: These materials are used in mattress protectors and crib mattress covers. PVC can contain phthalates and additives, emitting dangerous VOCs. Vinyl also contains phthalates, which can disrupt the hormone system and lead to asthma.

It's important to be aware of these potential concerns when choosing a mattress. At Essentia Organic Mattress, we believe in providing transparency about our materials and technology, including Beyond Latex Organic Foam, EMF protection foam upgrades, and quantum energy technologies like activated quartz. Our aim is to offer you a healthier and more environmentally conscious sleep solution.

What About Plant Based or Eco Foams?

This is a topic that we are quite passionate about! Many companies try to market their mattresses as being 'plant based' foam or 'eco foam'. These foam in fact are using bio fuels, which is still a petroleum based polyurethane foam with a timy amount of plant derived oils. This makes no different to the nature of the product being natural, green, or ecofriendly! 

Watch Jack Explain What a 'Eco Foam' Truly Is


What About CertiPur Foam Mattresses?

You may have heard of CertiPUR foam, which emerged as a response to increasing awareness among smart consumer about the drawbacks of traditional polyurethane foam (polyfoam).

CertiPUR foam is marketed as a certified product designed to be more environmentally friendly and beneficial for sleepers' health. As a result, it's often touted by some mattress brands as a certification that somehow makes the mattress more "eco-friendly", or somehow less toxic to the sleeper. 

In reality, CertiPUR foam is an initiative driven by polyfoam manufacturers who have a vested interest in presenting a more eco-conscious image for their product. While it's true that some foam products labeled as CertiPUR may contain fewer harmful chemicals than others, it's essential to understand that no polyfoam is entirely safe or non-toxic, nor can it be considered genuinely eco-friendly.

While this "certification" does set standard of zero to low for some of the most harmful and talked about chemicals in mattresses such as PBDEs, formaldehyde, ozone depleting substance, mercury, lead, and heavy metals, the testing standards are very low only taking into account the emission for 72 hours. This is versus more rigorous Control Union certifications that test for 7 days or longer.  

List of Chemicals in Mattresses

To our knowledge, as foamers and manufacturers, these are the ingredients used to make the components listed below. Ingredients may vary for glues, memory foams, natural and synthetic latex foams.

Talalay Global, formerly known as Latex International, also confirms using the same ingredients we use to make their 100% natural latex foam.

We don't hide behind certifications, although we do hold all the proper certifications including GOLS. The list below indicates the actual ingredients used to make different foams. We are sharing this information to offer complete transparency and highlight our Beyond Organic® standard that is at the core of all product design and processes here at Essentia.

(Solvent Based)
Beyond Latex Organic Foam
4-Aminobiphenyl x        
4-trans-pentyl-cyclohexyl x        
1,1,1, 2-Tetrachloroethane x x      
2-chloro-1,3-butadiene     x    
acetone x x      
Acrylate resins       x  
Asbestos Fluorinated polymers x        
Azoxylbenzene x        
Benzonitrile x        
Beryllium and Compounds x        
Carbon tetrachloride x        
Cellulose nitrate plastic polymers x        
Chlorofluorocarbons x        
Chloroform x        
Chromium and compounds x        
Cobalt and compounds x        
Cone essence         x
Cynanide x        
Dimethylformamide x x      
Dioxins and furans x        
Diphenyl diisocyanate x x x x x
Emulsion of Hevea brasiliensis milk in water         x
Epichlorohydrin x        
Fats       x x
Glycol ethers x        
Halogenated benzenes x        
Halogenated napthalenes x        
Halogenated triphenyls x        
Halons x        
Haologenated idphenyl ethers x        
Hevea brasiliensis milk       x x
Hexachlorobutadiene x        
Hydrolyzed corn         x
Indium x        
Lead carbonate x        
Lead hydrocarbonate x        
Lead sulfate x        
Magnesium x        
Metallic oxides     x    
Methyl benzene (toluene) x x      
Methylene dianiline x x      
Molybdenum x        
Organo-tin compounds x        
Perfluorocarbons Benzene x        
Phenol-melamine resins     x x  
Phenol-urea       x  
Phenylcyclohexane Benzidine x        
Polychlorinated phenols x        
Polyvinyl acetate       x  
Rhenium x        
Rubidium x        
Samarium x        
Strontium x        
Sulfur     x    
Tellerium x        
Thallium and compounds x        
toluene diisocyanate x        
toluene–neoprene x x      
Vinilideine chloride x x      
Vinyl acetate x        
Water x x x x x
Waxes styrene-butadiene copolymer     x x x


Diphenyl diisocyanate is an ingredient used in the production of natural latex foam and polyurethane foams. It allows components of a formula to blend together properly. Our formula is a water-based solution. Diphenyl diisocyanate polymerizes in the presence of water. It has traditionally been used for the production of latex foam, some European urethane manufacturers have blended this component with Toluene diisocyanate in the attempt of reducing toluene content.

Phenol-melamine resins are used in the production of natural latex foam; this component is what creates the flexible properties to the foam. This component has more value in conventional latex, while a zero-gravity pressure-relieving foam requires less flexibility.

Waxes styrene-butadiene copolymer is used to add resistance and longevity to natural foams. This component has excellent abrasion resistance when properly blended. This component is most commonly used in blends of natural latex. This component is considered a thickening agent and gelling agent and contains vegetal based waxes.

About the Application of Glues in Standard Mattresses

Mattress manufacturers use glues to bond the inner layers of mattresses together as well as to bond the fabric cover to the core.

Adhesives can be rolled to bond each layer or can be diluted in water and sprayed over each surface to be bonded. This second application method allows manufacturers to call their glue a "water-based adhesive".

A water-based adhesive is a simple process whereby water is mixed in with a solvent-based adhesive to facilitate spraying the glue over each mattress surface. When the glue dries, all water molecules in the adhesive evaporate and only the adhesive which emits VOCs is left behind.

The long-term health effects that may occur after prolonged exposure to Volatile Organic Content (VOC) found in Adhesive/Glue solvents include cancers, damage to the heart, liver, central nervous system, and kidneys.


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