Natural Latex Foam Mattresses:
A Healthy Alternative to Memory Foam

by Mark Sweiger

Did you know that natural latex foam mattresses, made from the
latex sap of the rubber tree, are a much safer alternative to
the popular memory foam mattresses? Memory foam mattresses, like
most commercially available mattresses, are made from petroleum
based polyurethane foam, an extremely flammable material. Known
as "solid gasoline" by firefighters, the polyurethane foam in
most commercially available mattresses burns so furiously that
strict new fire resistance standards have been written into law,
starting with California in 2005 and going nationwide in 2006.
These strict new fire resistance standards are being met by
tripling the amount of fire retardant chemicals, called PDBEs,
that are added to manufacture memory foam mattresses and
mattress toppers.

Most mattress purchasers are unaware of the fire danger posed by
polyurethane mattresses. But the greater danger may be the
higher concentrations of PDBEs used to help prevent combustion
in memory foam mattresses. PDBEs build up in the body in ways
similar to banned PCBs, and they have been linked to cancer and
other illnesses. PDBEs have already been banned in Europe, but
not in North America. Some medical researchers believe that the
extra load of PDBEs in newly made mattresses will cause millions
of cancer cases in the coming decades. Because you lie directly
on your mattress for 8 hours every night, your body has its
greatest contact with the dangerous PDBEs while you sleep, and
they pass right through your skin.

The solution to the PDBE problem is to do what the Europeans
already do, sleep on natural latex mattresses. Natural latex
mattresses are made from the sap of the tropical rubber tree.
Natural latex foam does not burn well, and most natural latex
mattresses are also quilted with organic cotton and wool which
makes them very fire resistant, complying with all current fire

Latex foam comes a variety of densities for different firmness
needs, and, unlike memory foam, it doesn't have to heat up to
cradle the body--the effect is immediate. Most people find 100%
natural latex foam mattresses to be incredibly comfortable,
relieving pressure points and improving circulation. Another
great characteristic of latex is its durability. Latex
mattresses have been known to last up to 30 years. Because of
their resilience, latex mattresses do not need to be turned like
innerspring mattresses.

Because latex mattresses do not have innersprings, they require
a firmer foundation than the traditional boxsprings. Latex
mattresses can be used with a platform bed, a slat foundation
which looks like traditional boxsprings, but has slats on the
top, or a solid wood foundation, which also looks like
boxsprings but has a plywood top usually covered by fabric.

Chemical-free natural latex mattresses are produced by a number
of North American manufacturers, the largest of which are
Vivetique - Crown City Mattress, located in South El Monte,
California, and Obasan, located in Ottawa, Canada. There are
also a number of European importers of natural latex foam
mattresses, the biggest of which is Green Sleep from Belgium.

Retailers of natural latex mattresses include a variety of local
mattress stores who carry products from these manufacturers.
There are also nationwide web retailers, like Dax Stores, which
usually have the best prices for these natural latex mattresses.

About the author:
Mark Sweiger ( is a freelance reporter on home and garden topics and ecological news. He strongly recommends that you protect your health and safety by sleeping on a
latex mattress.
More Information on Organic Bedding and Mattresses