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

We at Essentia make 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.

If you're looking for a healthier mattress we're a good place to start. Essentia foam mattresses have been tested for VOC's!

By-the-way, you're not alone with your concerns.

Watch Senator Durbin recount his experience with exposure to fire retardant chemicals.


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?

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. The list below indicates the actual ingredients used to make our natural memory foam. We even list what comes out of our mattresses in terms of our VOC's which offers complete transparency.

(Solvent Based)
Slow Response Organic Latex 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.

Find out more about the GREENGUARD certified glues we use.

Components used for the production of polyurethane memory foams

Components researched: isocyanates; methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane; acetone; benzene; ethylene oxide; formaldehyde.

Biological Monitoring - Is memory foam safe?

Clinical evaluations conducted by Duke University; Source ATSDR - Public health advisory Public Health Implications: The exact amount of TDI required to cause adverse health effects is unknown. People have become sensitized after being exposed to as little as 20 parts per billion (ppb). After sensitization, there is no amount of TDI that one may be exposed to safely. Studies have shown that in sensitized individuals, asthmatic attacks can occur after exposure to TDI air concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb.

Testing Results: Of 113 participants tested, 10 participants (9%) developed antibodies.

Perfumes and Deodorizers

Certain imported polyurethane memory foam products have industrial perfumes to mask the chemical odor that exists in their products.

Chemicals Found in Air Fresheners:

- Bonded quaternary ammonium chloride compounds

- Decamethcyclopentasiloxane

- Ozone

- Paradichlorobenzene (anticipated to be a carcinogen)

- Fragrances

For articles written about chemicals in mattresses visit:


- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

- Water-based Adhesives Technology Review

- Aerias - Air Quality Sciences


    1. Tinnerberg H, Dalene M, Scarping G, Air and biological monitoring of toluene diisocyanate in a flexible foam plant. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 58:229-235 (1997)

    2. Bernstein JA. Overview of diisocyanate occupational asthma. Toxicology 111:181-189 (1996)

    3. Wegman D, Pagnatto L, Fine L, Peters J, A dose - responsive relationship in TDI workers. J Occup Med 16:258-260 (1974)

    4. Bauer X, Merek W, Ammon J, Czuppon A, Marczynski B, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Roemmelt H, Fruhmann G. Respiratory and other hazards of isocynates. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 66:141:152 (1994)

    5. California Environmental Protection Agency. Determination of Formaldehyde and Toluene Diisocyanate Emissions from Indoor Residential Sources. Contract no. 93-315 Columbus, OH:Battelle, 1996.

    6. ACGIH. Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices, 5th ed.

    7. Cincinnati, OH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, 1986.