Memory foam mattress topper (& MF mattresses?) - I am sick from VOCs

Hi, I am new to this site. I found this site doing research for organic mattresses in Toronto area. The reason I need to find an organic mattress is because I have been poisoned by the VOCs found in the LUCID memory foam mattress toppers purchased from I bought a 3 inch one, then threw it out after developing strange body stiffness and joint pain, thinking it was a structural issue. I then bought a 2 inch topper, and all my symptoms got worse over time. I got the toppers in the first place because I replaced a king mattress with two twin XLs, and because of the poor quality of manufacturing, my mattress was twice as hard as the mattress in the store. So I was trying to soften my new, hard mattress. And that is how we got here.

I was a healthy 34 year old female. Now my symptoms are: internal cramping, itching eyes, sore itchy throat, muscle weakness, dizziness, trouble getting spoken words out, inflamed lymph nodes in neck, racing mind/anxiety/insomnia, major fatigue, joint pain (hips, knees feet), lower back pain, mild asthma/lung irritation/cough.

Through your mattress forum, I found that Lucid is owned by Malouf Marketing Inc. their website is here:
I have sent them an email demanding to speak to someone. Nobody appears to answer their phone and there is no outgoing message identifying the number as theirs. I don’t exactly expect to hear a response from that kind of reception. I will however follow up with a scathing review on

Secondly, I was able to identify my symptoms as being memory foam related thanks to a nutritionist I am working with out of BC for a nutritional balancing program, and she directed me to this website:

Over 230 people complaining that they became acutely or chronically ill after limited and prolonged exposure to a memory foam mattress.

4 months ago, I replaced a newish King Sealy mattress (due to structural reasons - the ‘support core’ seemed to have been in stalled vertically up the mattress rather than horizontally as one would expect, and as a result there was considerable sagging) I exchanged this king Sealy (regular box spring pillow top from 2013) for two Twin XL mattresses: mine is a Sealy with a foam interior (fyi, Sleep Country is the only one who now has removed all the spring coils from their Sealy models, and has replaced them with a thick foam interior…which has subsequently prolonged the warranty to something like 10 or 20 years, I learned this AFTER purchasing the mattress. I assume they did this to prevent common complaints of ‘sagging’, the reason why I was exchanging the first Sealy, how ironic). My boyfriend’s is a new Simmons with the memory foam pillow top. Both are top of the line Sealy and Simmons models. Both have a helluva lot of foam or memory foam in them, and both still smell sickly sweet when I peel back the sheets to sniff them. Gross.

I never would have made the connection to mattress toxicity had it not been for my nutritionist sending me the chem-tox link above. At the same time, within these last 4 + months, I have been having some seasonal allergy symptoms as well. I thought it was a lot of allergies, not the mattress. I also thought the nutritional balancing program was to blame. So in my mind, I was blaming these other two things, when really, the biggest blame was to the mattresses and mattress toppers.

I had a foam mattress when I was a child, and I also had childhood asthma, tonsilitis, and a lung infection that lasted 3 months one summer. It was horrible. I cannot help but think that my mattress might have been a huge factor in this!

Right now, I am feeling flu-like sickness symptoms, the ones I described above. I am seeing my doctor today to inform him of what I suspect, and to request a blood test. I doubt the blood test will show anything, as they usually don’t for VOC exposure.

I am planning to break the news to my boyfriend that we need yet another new mattress for our home, and it’s going to cost another several thousands of dollars that I don’t have to replace them.

I have looked at Essentia sold from their storefront in the Beaches area of Toronto, and Obasan, sold through Soma Organic beds in North York by Yorkdale mall. Both are well reviewed for being near-organic and have very little VOC emissions compared to conventional beds. I know of the brand OMI (Organicpedic) as well, but they contain wool, and I am actually allergic to wool, so I am less inclined to consider them, even if they could manufacture one for me without wool. OMI is sold through ELTE in Toronto.

This is a site that I found in my research that profiles the ‘best’ organic or natural beds:

Thanks for reading. I felt I needed to get this information out to the masses.

Do not buy LUCID anything or Malouf Marketing anything. It is a total money grab and these people don’t stand behind their products at all.

***EDIT: In fairness to the company (Lucid/Malouf Marketing Inc.), I decided to make this edit to say that they offered to refund me the money after speaking them over the phone, and apologized if their website had misled me in any way to believe the mattress topper was made of something it wasn’t. Their product is not ‘bad’ for the entire population, just for some people, like me. I must also add that after becoming ill from VOC exposure/toxicity, I must also include under my suspicion, both of the Twin XL Simmons and Sealy mattresses that were bought just prior to purchasing the Lucid mattress topper - both mattresses are made of some kind of polyurethane foam and/or memory foam, and both emit a chemical smell. I am most likely one of the few people in the population that is especially chemically sensitive to VOCs and industrial glues, agents, flame retardants, etc. and just because I have had a bad reaction to this/these product/s does not rule it out from anyone else purchasing it and not having a problem with it.

***I would just like to say: if you have a history of being allergic or reactive to industrial chemicals like cleaners, emissions, or anything with offensive vapors and chemicals, like generic home cleaning solutions or cleaning sprays or air fresheners or detergents or soaps, for example, then I would strongly urge you to rethink purchasing ANY mattress product with “memory foam” or any kind of industrial polyurethane foam product. Even though you can’t smell the sources of all VOCs, your reaction and natural aversion to the above things are, in my opinion, a good indicator of your chemical sensitivity.

Hi 1whitehorse1,

I’m sorry to hear about your experience with your mattress and I can sympathize because I had a similar experience with a memory foam topper made by a different manufacturer (see here). The only good news is that the symptoms usually tend to go away relatively quickly after you are no longer sleeping on the mattress.

I would also be cautious about Lucid and I would read post #6 here and post #2 here along with this topic and the posts they link to (along with a forum search on Lucid (you can just click the link) which will also bring up more information about them as well) before considering them. In all fairness though … and to their credit … they are listed on the CertiPur site here* and have been tested for harmful substances and VOC’s so for most people they would be “safe enough” and your experience wouldn’t be the norm.

ADMIN NOTE: *Removed 404 link|Archived Footprint:

Having said that … for those that are more sensitive then there can be a higher risk of sensitivity with some types of memory foam and most people that are very sensitive to certain chemicals will often tend to avoid memory foam completely (and sometimes polyfoam as well).

There is a great deal more information in post #2 here and the posts and other sources of information that it links to that can help each person answer the very complex and frustrating question of “how safe is safe enough for me?”.

Now that you are looking for a new mattress … the first place I would start is the mattress shopping tutorial here which has all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that can help you make the best possible choices … and perhaps more importantly know how and why to avoid the worst ones (including the major manufacturers such as Sealy, Simmons, and Serta).

The tutorial also includes links to several lists of the better online choices that I’m aware of and post #1 here also includes the better options and possibilities in the Toronto area that I’m aware of as well.

You may have read some of these already but you can read some of my thoughts about Essentia and some of the misleading claims they make and some forum discussions with them in this thread and this thread and posts #3 and #4 here).

In general wool allergies are a contact allergy and aren’t an issue with mattresses that use wool quilting in the cover so there is no direct contact (see this topic and the end of post #2 here) and there are many advantages to using wool in a quilting layer (see post #6 here).

OMI certainly uses high quality materials in their mattresses but I would also make some careful value comparisons because there are also other manufacturers that use the same or very similar materials in their mattresses that are in much lower budget ranges.


Hi Phoenix,

I read some of your posts about Essentia, which made me read about the whole FTC debacle they were tangled in not too long ago, related to them claiming ‘zero’ this or ‘100% free’ of whatever, which is technically and physically impossible I now realize, since they do use some binders in their foam core of the mattress, however small they claim them to be. I don’t think people would be so alarmed at this had they not chosen to write their advertising copy with those absolute words/numbers. I mean, it could be a great product, who knows. Just someone in the marketing department made a bad decision to choose absolutist and generalized language that doesn’t tell the whole truth about the product as a whole, and gives people a slightly different impression. It certainly erodes some level of trust in what they choose to tell the public about their product, regardless of how amazing or fabulous it really is. And trust for mattress companies is in very short supply here, I can tell you. They had some part of the mattress tested on their site and it shows that it only has ‘ambient’ amounts of VOCs. The report is here: Organic Mattresses: Sleep Deeper on a Natural Latex Mattress It says the VOCs and formaldehyde levels are ‘background’ and ‘negligible’ and no health risk or discomfort would be caused by them.

I was finally able to catch an Essentia sales rep on the phone in their Toronto Beaches store, and she answered all my questions, and I grilled her about the VOC content and the latex setting process - basically she said they use the talalay or “Toulay” latex setting process as she described it for setting the internal foam part, and then they layer the ‘natural memory foam’ part or the slow response latex which was engineered by the founder (his family has been in latex forever apparently) is then laid on top, and it’s all fused together in one piece. So I can see that Essentia’s goal is to create a mattress that is on the natural side, and made to be super comfortable/supportive by using a slow response latex foam. They say they cater a lot to athletes, and you can tell by the marketing on their website.

I also asked her why Essentia doesn’t have the typical wool/cotton encasement, and just has the organic cotton cover. She said this is because Essentia paid to get one of their mattresses tested by a third party to see if they were naturally flame retardant without any wool encasement/covers. The mattress passed the flame test, and therefore, they don’t need to make them with any wool covers, just the cotton covers, and therefore, they can claim the mattress is hypoallergenic.

When I asked at SOMA organic beds why the Obasan has the wool covers, the manager there named Tony said that this is because the wool acts as a natural fire retardant. He also said that the wool prevents any flaked off or dried latex foam (that might come from age?) from dispersing into the air or being breathed in by the sleeper. The wool in the Obasan surrounds each of the 4 or more layers of foam that make up the mattress, kind of like a foam/wool/cotton sandwich, and it basically ensures the containment of the foam, and acts as a flame retardant.

When I mentioned the idea of the latex flaking or crumbling due to use or age, the Essentia rep said that she has never had this as a concern, and she said if this did happen to a bed they sold, and it was within warranty, they would replace it. I then concluded that possibly the Obasan and similar natural mattresses include the wool as a natural fire retardant because they have never paid to have the mattress tested as being naturally flame retardant itself. Other than that, I cannot say what practical use it has.

The Essentia rep also countered with saying since the Essentia doesn’t have the wool, it has less chance of getting any dust mites, since dust mites would be able to live in the wool material, and it therefore reinforces the hypoallergenic claim. Of course, I personally think risk of dust mites in a tightly sandwiched foam mattress is quite slim, if you have a clean room to begin with. The SOMA store rep Tony said that the wool in the Obasan is located beneath the cotton so it is not in direct contact with the skin, and therefore poses a reduced allergen threat to those with sensitivities.

Personally, I can’t recall how badly I react to wool these days, but from my youth, I do remember I would get sneezy and itchy if I threw on a wool sweater and wore it the whole day. I do however have a wool/cashmere cardigan that I wear very often, and I don’t react to that. So I really can’t say at this point. I might not have a problem with it at all today. Tony from SOMA said that for people with allergies and chemical sensitivies, he always recommends the Obasan or the Green Sleep brands. He even offered to sell me a shredded latex pillow with wool inner lining at a reduced price to see how I react when sleeping on it, and if I chose to buy the Obasan/Green Sleep, he would deduct the pillow from the final price.

I looked up a site that reviewed organic/natural beds, and the author said that she got herself an Obasan bed made without wool, and when I asked Tony at SOMA, he said no, Obasan beds cannot be made without wool, because it must be included as the fire retardant material.

Also, I should point out that the reason that Obasan/Green Sleep have layers in their mattresses that are surrounded by wool/cotton encasements is because they probably don’t bind or fuse their foams together with any adhesives. It’s just raw, formed latex foam, from what I can understand, using the Dunlop process, which is apparently the ‘better’ process for VOCs. Essentia said they use the Toulay or Talalay process (spelling?) which includes some kind of binding process…?

And yet the Essentia rep said they use natural plant resins to achieve the bind, however, there must be some formaldehyde involved if it shows up on the test they posted to their site stating low VOCs. I asked her if they use ammonia to set the foam, and she claimed she didn’t know. She only knew about the natural plant resins. So, maybe she doesn’t have full knowledge about how the product is manufactured. And to say that the process ONLY involves plant resin goes against the ambient VOC report posted on the site. She even tried to say that well, the ambient VOCs could be from the plastic wrap the mattress comes in, or from the shipping/driving process from warehouse to truck, etc. But I mean, how does formaldehyde get in there unless it’s from the manufacturing process, lol. (I’m not stupid, I just want to hear the transparent truth). Even if the amounts are extremely low, I would still like to know if yes or no.

So right now, I’m kind of torn between Essentia and Obasan/Green Sleep at Soma, before having tried them out. I will be going to try them out hopefully this week or the next.

And thank you for the links Phoenix, I will be looking through all of them to help me decide. I’m interested to see how they compare to my current knowledge on the subject.

Both SOMA with Green Sleep/Obasan and Essentia really stand behind their products and were willing to answer my barrage of detailed questions, and I got some useful information from that, so I’m going to say that at least they are more transparent and accessible than Sealy/Simmons/Serta, and certainly better made than those overall.

Hi Phoenix,

Upon reading all the links you supplied for Essentia, and clicking even on the law tags I found someone had posted in one of your conversations, it’s pretty clear to me that it’s not ‘Organic’ by any means, and I mean, that’s a pretty generic and generalized labeling job if I ever saw one. Even Tony at SOMA pointed out that the source of their latex is not really organic compared to where Green Sleep or Obasan get theirs from. I forget which countries that included, and who knows if he’s right, but he did have a lot to say about disproving their sourcing of materials and the manufacturing processes to create their product.

I am going to have to say, that I am a person who gives benefit of the doubt, and someone who likes sexy marketing, but in this case, Essentia wins my doubt because of their contradictory messaging, and their obscure processes and materials and labeling. Sure, their product might be really well engineered, I’ll give them that, but WHAT is it really made from, and is it safe? As safe as what? The lab reports say it’s ‘safe’, but could another product be even safer? I’m not even going to discuss the price, cause I am strictly looking at safety. This feels like splitting hairs over a few trace VOCs but then again, that’s what got me here in the first place!

You mentioned: “At this point … there are only two manufacturers who make GOTS certified organic mattresses … they are Organicpedic and Naturepedic, both of whom used Oregon Tilth as their certifying agent.”

I can’t say I noticed these for sale at SOMA, in fact no, they don’t sell them there. I got high praise from Tony on Green Sleep and Obasan because he said those two were ideal for people with chemical sensitivities because they were very very near organic, or at least more so than the Essentia. Tony at SOMA basically said, no latex bed is 100% organic or natural, he is not going to try to sell me on that. But, the Green Sleep and Obasan are really close, and he seemed to imply that they were closer than Essentia.

I also checked out the Dormio site you posted. They also look comparable to SOMA’s brands. The ‘Learn’ section on their website is very informative, and reinforces what I have learned thus far. Too bad I can’t view their videos on youtube, they don’t seem to open. They also have a good Dunlop versus Talalay latex page: basically explaining why Dunlop is better than Talalay, the latter of which is used by Essentia, and which contains synthetic ingredients.

So at this point, I think I will check out SOMA with Green Sleep and Obasan, and possibly Dormio with their products.

Hi 1whitehorse1,

You are getting some “misleading” information from Essentia that is more about marketing than it is about fact. There is more about their so called “slow response latex” in the previous posts I linked. They do use a fire retardant barrier in their mattress … it’s just not wool. You can read more about wool quilted covers in post #6 here. They also use Dunlop latex in their support core (not Talalay) and they are also in a much higher budget range than other mattresses that use similar materials.

Wool can certainly works well as a fire retardant (see post #2 here). All mattresses are tested as part of the fire regulations in each country. The “flaking off” of latex wouldn’t be a concern to me but a wool quilted cover will protect the latex from oxidation more effectively than a thinner unquilted cover (see post #3 here and post #3 here). The wool also surrounds the whole mattress but not each of the layers individually as far as I know.

This is also misinformation because wool tends to resist dust mites … not attract them (see post #9 here).


Very interesting. Essentia has a great ‘defensive’ strategy when it comes to batting away the balls of doubt, and creating new ones for other products, case in point, the ‘facts’ about wool and why they don’t have any in their mattress.

Bottom line, wool absorbs and regulates moisture, is not an excellent home for dust mites, and is not folded between the different foam layers of another brand of mattress. That is what your posts have led me to believe. In terms of it being non-allergenic, I can see how organic wool might behave differently, if not in direct contact with skin.

It’s strange that when I spoke to the Essentia rep, she said that basically their mattresses doesn’t burn, therefore, they didn’t need the wool. Haha. And you just said that they have a fire retardant barrier built into their mattresses? What part of the mattress is this located in? The very outer layer? Like a chocolate coated cookie or something? And you say that they do in fact use Dunlop AND the Talalay latex, but the Dunlop is located in the interior of the mattress, producing the structure and stability, and their Talalay exterior is made of the mixed stuff, making the ‘memory foam’? That would mean they have a combo of good stuff and not so good stuff, meaning, that they would have to use some synthetic compounds to make the Talalay…correct? At this point, anything with ‘memory foam’ attached to it is scary enough for me as it is, since that is what got me here. So just the mention of this makes me suspicious.

Thanks for your knowledge.

Hi 1whitehorse1,

They use a Kevlar fire barrier that is part of the cover (see here) which is how it passes the fire regulations.

They don’t use Talalay at all (you were given incorrect information)… just Dunlop.

There is more about the different types and blends of latex in post #6 here. Unlike the misinformation on their site indicates … there is Talalay latex available that uses 100% natural rubber (no synthetic rubber) but they don’t use it.


Oh, I guess the rep and/or I confused the Talalay with the Dunlop. Yes, I went to their site, and there is a layer of the mattress that has the dunlop slab of latex in there. The other slabs don’t mention or label the process.

And yes, she mentioned something about the Kevlar, except I couldn’t visualize where that would have been used when referring to ‘exterior’. So they actually weave Kevlar into the organic cotton cover? I’m confused as to where the Kevlar is located exactly, it doesn’t really say on the ‘fire retardant’ section of the site. What are the health effects of Kevlar? Is that a toxic material? They claim it is an inert substance, no VOCs.

Just as an observer of this thread, I’m wondering why you are even still considering this company? They’ve blatantly misled you, and as Pheonix said, there are other companies out there who use the same materials for much less money.

Hi Benstark,

I guess I am trying to glean all the information which would disqualify this company from my consideration. I want to know why exactly I am crossing them off my list. And because they seem to have put out some incorrect and inaccurate claims, I wanted to know more. I haven’t tried any of these brands yet, so it will also come down to comfort, and price if that’s even flexible. Price is the last thing on my list, because safety is number one, and comfort is a very close second.

I personally don’t think they are a terrible company or a terrible product, from what I can see thus far. I just don’t know if they’re right for me. I do plan to investigate Dormio, and the options at SOMA organic, like Obasan, and Green Sleep. They’re very different products and I’m sure there will be things that I will like and dislike as I go through trying them out, things that won’t necessarily be related to their natural-ness.

But I am starting with safety, and learning all the aspects and components that make up this picture are part of the inquiry I am currently engaging in.

Hi 1whitehorse1,

No … it would be “sock” that surrounds the interior components of the mattress and then the cover goes over this.

While it’s certainly a synthetic material (the same material that is used in bulletproof vests) I wouldn’t consider it to be toxic no. There is more about “safe” fire barriers in post #2 here and post #4 here and in post #13 here.

There is also an MSDS for kevlar here.

They don’t specify any further details about their fire barrier or whether it is all kevlar or just contains kevlar and includes other materials as well.

I share the same thoughts as well.


Hi Phoenix,

Thanks, yes, I saw the ‘sock’ on the diagrams they had on their Essentia site. Makes sense.

Just out of curiosity, what kind of bed to you sleep on, Phoenix? :slight_smile:

Or has someone already asked you that :wink:

Hah, the MSDS for Kevlar states that fibrils of the material, if inhaled will cause lung damage. So I guess it’s not better than wool in this case. It says you should use a ventilator or respirator if you are handling large quantities of it. I wonder what the MSDS sheet says for wool fibers? Are we comparing apples with apples? I wonder.

Oh, and the Essentia rep mentioned that in the case of the Kevlar burning, it would release some toxic gases, as is reflected in the MSDS sheet, but less than the typical toxic mattresses treated with toxic flame retardants.

Very interesting.

Hi 1whitehorse1,

Any high concentration of dust particles can cause mechanical irritation to the lungs but this would apply to the factory workers that make the Kevlar and not to the final use product that is used by consumers that would never be exposed to anything close to the level of dust particles from the Kevlar fabric that could cause any harm. Even drinking too much water can be harmful :slight_smile:

It’s been asked many times. You can see the details here.


True true. Inhaling a cloud of baking soda would not be beneficial either. For example.

I guess I’ve located some decent and healthy choices in Dormio, Green Sleep and Obasan. I’ll have to try 'em out to see what feel really works for me. I am used to sleeping on a box spring with a decent pillow top, so something soft, because I am a side sleeper, and so is my boyfriend, who has wide shoulders, and complains if there is anything ‘pinching’ his shoulder. It cannot be too firm. But, it has to be supportive enough not to give me lower back pain, which I am prone to. Soft but supportive and durable is what I am looking for at the end of the day.

I noticed you had issues viewing the dormio youtube videos. I don’t think you’ll find any more info that you don’t already know, but I found them directly on youtube by searching for “dormio mattress”.

Looks like they were all posted by the same user:

Good luck in your search!

Hi 1whitehorse1,

Careful testing is always an important part of a local purchase but I would keep in mind that “feel” is very subjective and going by the “showroom feel” or by the “subjective comfort” of a mattress alone can lead to choices that can have a lower chance of success than random chance alone (see post #4 here).


Thanks sidesleeper, the video did work, but you’re right, most of that info is written on their site.

Phoenix: I am such a bad tester, lol. It took me over an hour the first time I bought my first adult mattress. The woman at the Sleep Country in 2006 was really helpful and told me which mattress showed my back being most aligned, and to trust my instinct about a softer mattress for me as a side sleeper. I don’t think she works there any more :wink: But it sounds like the people at SOMA are well versed in posture and alignment, and all that. When I was in Sleep Country this year trying to find some suitable replacement for my initial badly structured purchase on a warranty exchange, nobody was so helpful as that time. They just chased me for my money. And I hate that pressure. it makes me skittish and angry and then I can’t focus on loving a bed. I just think about them watching me and waiting for me to decide and spend money. I really really hate that. Next time someone pressures me, I’ll be like, I don’t want to be pressured or I’m not going to be able to decide and I am outta here!!!

Hi 1whitehorse1,

Unfortunately this is typical of most chain stores who are more focused on “sales techniques” than they are on helping their customers make the most suitable choice. As sad as it may be … if you have spent more than an hour or two on this site you will probably know more meaningful information about mattresses and the materials inside them than most of the salespeople in mainstream stores that sell them.


Thanks Phoenix, I looked through your testing tips, like assessing for pressure relief, and posture and alignment, and personal preferences, for safety and no chemical and allergic reaction. I think I am working out the latter right now, and then when I’m in the store I can asses the two former. I already know that natural latex is durable, and more so than conventional box spring/foam mattresses that I have now.

Phoenix, I have a tricky question for you: my boyfriend is a side and back sleeper who likes a soft mattress so his shoulders are not pinched, since he has quite wide shoulders. He also has a bad case of carpal tunnel that is now resurfacing again after a lot of activity at work - he works in IT and is at a computer desk pretty much all the time, even at home in the later evening doing personal things. …have you ever heard of carpal tunnel being aggravated by sleep? Or is it just through the tension of the hand tendon through too much time clicking with the mouse? I have never had carpal tunnel myself, even though I work at a computer all day as well. My thoughts are that everything is connected, and it is possible that his shoulder during sleep might be able to impact his hand tendons during the day? I might research this more.