Did you just find out that the organic latex mattress you are sleeping on is, in fact, made with synthetic chemicals because of a lawsuit against Avocado Mattress? Latex foam mattresses are “non-toxic” alternatives to memory foam made from natural latex sourced from rubber trees. However, it’s impossible to make a completely natural latex mattress regardless of what you read in advertising. In order to go from rubber trees to latex mattresses, some synthetic chemicals must be added. But If you have an organic mattress with latex, don’t throw it out! It’s still much better than the conventional ones. So what are the differences and which brands are selling the best “low-tox” alternatives? You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like best (& possibly worst) organic mattresses, safest “breathable” crib mattresses, & safest bedding without PFAS, now join us for the details behind the Avocado Mattress lawsuit, how this impacts the industry, and the best (& possibly worst) latex mattresses out there.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links. Mamavation did our best to verify certifications on the GOLS & GOTS database. Please reach out to us if we missed your certification.
Table of Contents
Avocado Mattress Sued for “Fraud, Deceit, and/or Misrepresentation”
On April 28th, 2023, Avocado Mattress LLC was sued in the Superior Court of San Francisco “for fraud, deceit, and/or misrepresentation; violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act; false advertising; negligent representation; unfair, unlawful, and deceptive trade practices; unjust enrichment; and breach of contract” by Plaintiffs Richard Roberts and Akeem Pina. Plaintiffs accuse Avocado of deliberately selling products that are not as “natural”, “eco,” “organic”, “and/or “green” as advertised. Proof submitted to the court included an analysis and chemical composition of Avocado latex foam from an EPA-certified lab.
The toxic chemicals found inside the Avocado latex mattress according to the lawsuit were as follows:
- Wingstay-L — contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm. It contains substances listed with the State of California as hazardous waste, and it is “not readily biodegradable.”
- Pentyl Furan — also known as “amylfuran,” is acutely toxic and causes eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Is is also flammable.”
- Zinc diethyldithiocarbamate, or “ZDEC” — a possible accelerator used in the rubber manufacturing process, is irritating to the eyes, respiratory system, and skin. Furthermore, it is toxic to aquatic organisms, and it may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. Additionally, ZDEC may term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. Additionally, ZDEC may form carcinogenic substances during the vulcanization process.
- 2,2′-dibenzothiazyl disulfide, or “MBTS” — a possible accelerator used in the rubber manufacturing process, may cause skin sensitization following repeated contact and its dust may cause respiratory irritation, including the symptoms of bronchitis. Like ZDEC, it is toxic to aquatic organisms, and it may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. It is “not readily biodegradable.”
- 1,3-diphenylguanidine, or “DPG” — a possible accelerator used in the rubber manufacturing process, is associated with damaging human fertility and unborn children. It is a health hazard and can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and the respiratory system. It is also toxic to aquatic life, with long-lasting effects.
- Hydrocarbon oil — rubber processing oil made from petroleum, is a naphthenic-type oil associated with eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. It is also flammable.
According to the lawsuit, Avocado cannot claim ignorance for these false misstatements because they own their entire production chain from start to finish. In other words, they are making the latex foam at their factory, so they are well aware of the chemicals used to produce them. Most other mattress brands selling “non-toxic” mattresses rely on other manufacturers to produce the latex foam and pour them into molds. But not Avocado, the company celebrates being in control from start to finish of their supply chain.
Because Avocado is part of a much larger company that also produces other types of latex mattresses and conventional polyurethane foam mattresses, Mamavation never recommended them in our own mattress investigation. Owning your own production chain is great for transparency, provided you are being honest about the materials and practices to the consumers. It’s not great when companies who own their own production chains use different materials than what they stated in their marketing. This exact situation is what the lawsuit is tethered on. Our instinct of saving the “best” realm for companies that made organic mattresses their value as a company instead of “organic” being just another category was right on the money when you read the lawsuit.
Industry experts interviewed for this investigation said the chemicals found in this lab report are also very common in the production of polyurethane foam. Mamavation is now wondering if these are the same chemicals they are using for their polyurethane foam mattresses produced by the other half of the company.
Dirty Secrets Behind the Production of “Non-Toxic” Latex Mattresses
So what is a latex mattress and what are the dirty secrets? All organic latex beds are a non-toxic alternative to memory foam made from natural latex sourced from rubber trees. Organic latex has great temperature regulation, good support & pressure relief for back and shoulder pain with a medium-firm feel or a soft feel, and good bounciness. They are also denser and heavier, making them more stable for heavy sleepers. Latex mattresses have no coils, so the bounce feels different. But beyond the marketing, there are some issues with latex we want to tell you about.
The difference between a conventional latex mattress and a “non-toxic’ latex mattress is not necessarily about the types of toxic chemicals involved, but more about the percentages of synthetic toxic chemicals. In other words, all latex mattresses contain synthetic chemicals to go from a natural rubber tree to a foam. There is no other way to create a latex product without going through the vulcanization process. So when you are purchasing a latex mattress, it’s not a “non-toxic” product, it’s more of a “low-tox” product.
The Vulcanization Process for Latex Foam Includes Synthetic Chemicals
The vulcanization process is what takes latex from a rubber tree to a heated mold. Here’s how that happens:
- Natural rubber is combined with synthetic chemicals
- The mixture results in a compound whipped into a foamy mixture
- The foamy mixture is then poured into a heated mold
However, you would never know that synthetic chemicals are used in Avocado latex mattresses because the marketing on their own website is very flowery. Their own description of their product makes no mention of the synthetic chemicals needed to create that latex foam.
“Most mattresses are full of junk — plastic foams, toxic glues, harmful VOCs, and chemical flame retardants. Not ours. We use natural, non-toxic materials. We even harvest our latex and our wool from our own sustainable farms. This ensures the highest purity and quality. These materials, including our cotton, are all organic and non-toxic. And we can prove it. Our Latex Mattress is GREENGUARD Gold, GOTS organic, and Formaldehyde-Free certified. Our cotton and wool are GOTS Organic Certified and USDA Organic. And our latex is GOLS Organic, eco-INSTITUT®, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance, and FSC® certified.”
So if you now find yourself scratching your head, don’t worry. Most people were. Mamavation hadn’t (until today) done a deep dig on the production of latex mattresses, so we weren’t even aware of all this until the Avocado mattress lawsuit was available.
Since then, we have learned quite a bit and have interviewed industry professionals to clue us into these details. Rest assured, we are confident we can help you find a more natural latex mattress from a company that does its best to minimize the chemicals that were found in an Avocado mattress.
Mattress Certifications Don’t Cover Everything
When you hear terms like “natural,” “organic,” and “sustainable,” remember these are unregulated terms. The mattress industry is like the wild wild West in terms of using marketing claims. Just because you hear the word “organic” doesn’t mean that you won’t find fire retardants, toxic adhesives, or polyurethane foam. Some brands may use polyurethane foam and toxic adhesives with organic cotton on top. So things can get confusing.
Certifications are relied on for general guidance to the consumer. Are they foolproof? Absolutely not. The certifying agencies must rely on brands to submit proper verification on their materials and processing agents. But it’s important to understand that they are not actually there as the latex is being poured into the molds at the factory to verify. They are representing these things are true. So if more toxic materials get into the product outside the plans (i.e. the planned materials & ingredients) there’s no way for them to know.
Some certifications are very fuzzy about the limitations of specific chemicals. Relying on basic sweeping claims like “non-toxic” or “certified organic latex” or ” safe and healthy” doesn’t really have any meaning. So which chemicals are banned vs. restricted is quite confusing. Consumers may assume certain restrictions are actually bans. Whereas, there are several instances where a very small quantity of a specific chemical is allowed because it’s less than 100 parts per million (ppm). This would not be considered a ban, but more of a restriction. But it may not be something that is mentioned specifically. Therefore, there is no way of knowing or checking other than to have products tested and verified at a lab.
Standards & Certifications for Latex Mattresses
Even though latex mattresses were created to avoid the toxic problems around polyurethane foam, not all latex mattresses are made equal. There are four basic concepts that set regular latex mattresses apart from real organic latex mattresses:
- The percentage of synthetic chemicals used to create the latex foam are under 5% of the total
- Certain chemicals are restricted and not allowed above 100 ppm, however, they CAN be present in trace amounts
- It’s best to have several certifications, especially ones that mandate testing of toxic synthetic chemicals in addition to GOLS
- Bonus points for companies that are consistent in their values of producing non-toxic mattresses, i.e. they don’t have “toxic” sister companies
Some industry experts were unsure whether the chemicals present in the Avocado lawsuit were under the 5% ratio for certain certifications. So we are also unsure if they were breaking any of the standards of other certifications like GOLS or GOTS.
Certifications of Latex That Requires Testing (or Site Visits)
- GOTS Organic: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification is the gold standard of the organic mattress industry and they mandate site visits by certifiers. They certify mattresses, but they also separately certify individual materials like cotton fabric made by a cotton fabric company. It mandates that the cotton or wool contents used are USDA certified. They also determine how products are processed and manufactured and what chemicals like chemical adhesives can be used during that process. And finally, they also determine what other types of materials can be used with the product that is not organic like steel coils & zippers. This certification restricts fire retardants, but not all of them. (CONFUSING PART: Not all companies that claim to have GOTS certification are actually producing a GOTS-certified mattress. You will find lots of companies that use the GOTS symbol who purchased GOTS-certified materials from another company. This matters because you have no idea what is inside that mattress unless the entire thing is certified by GOTS.) Some chemicals found in the laboratory reports brought by Akeem Pina vs. Avocado Mattress LLC would have been flagged by the GOTS standard. However, we are unsure if the levels would have been a problem.
- GOLS Certification with Dunlop latex: Dunlop is the original manufacturing process for latex foams developed back in 1929 and it hasn’t changed much since then. GOLS certification has created a standard of no more than 5% of the mattress can contain these types of toxic and/or synthetic chemicals. Most of the 5% is zinc oxide and sulfur and then trace amounts of toxic chemicals. This certification requires testing and inspections. Avocado advertises its latex as “natural 100% GOLS organic certified Dunlop latex — sourced from our own farms in India.” The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certification is a standard for organic latex and finished latex foam. The product has to maintain a minimum of 95% certified organic raw material of the total weight. In other words, they allow 5% of the mattress to contain things that are completely synthetic. The chemicals found in the laboratory reports brought by Akeem Pina vs. Avocado Mattress LLC would NOT have been flagged by the GOLS standard. Yes, they are allowable.
- The OEKO-TEX standard 100: The OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is a European certification that verifies textiles are free from certain harmful substances like allergenic dyes, bisphenols, heavy metals, & formaldehyde. The highest ranking is Class 1. The OEKO-TEX Standard goes a bit further in terms of mattress testing. Look for manufacturers that source latex that is OEKO-TEX Class 1 certified. The best part about this certification is its testing. This certification requires testing and would have prevented Avocado from using at least 2 of those chemicals.
- GREENGUARD Gold UL: GREENGUARD was acquired by Underwriter Laboratories (UL) and has changed the parameters of their standard. They no longer carry the lowest emission “Select” category and have introduced a more watered-down “Gold” category instead. GREENGUARD is an air quality environmental testing company. They are looking into the off-gassing of specific contaminants. But today they are no longer considering flame retardants, PFAS chemicals, phthalates, and microbes. This standard does test for about 350 common VOCs. We just wish they went further to get some of the worst offenders. Green Guard will certify the entire mattress or any of the components instead. The chemicals found in the laboratory reports brought by Akeem Pina vs. Avocado Mattress LLC would not have been flagged by GreenGuard UL. Yes, they are allowable.
Certifications of Latex That Do Not Require Testing
- FSC Certified Latex: Forest Stewardship Council®, is a global, not–for–profit organization that is dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide. This certification helps you understand where your rubber is coming from, however, it’s not really getting into the business of inspecting the final product. They only really care about the source. It does, however, prevent you from any genetic modification. The Talalay process of producing latex is used to produce a softer, fluffier latex with a more homogenous consistency. This foam is softer and less dense, which makes it perfect for different layers within the mattress.
- Made Safe:MADE SAFE certifies that products are not made with cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting chemicals. Made Safe verifies the materials in mattress products have been scrutinized by scientists and experts to ensure they do not contain harmful ingredients, off-gas dangerous vapors, or create byproducts that could impact human health. According to the lawsuit, Made Safe does not allow for the toxic chemicals found in Avocado Latex (like Pentyl Furan and Wingstay) to be present in products certified by them, therefore, it’s safe to assume that they were not aware of this. Made Safe has at least 2 out of 6 chemicals on this list to flag — Pentyl Furan & Wingstay. Made Safe missed two chemicals that were produced by Avocado Mattress LLC. We did not interview Made Safe to discover how this happened.
How to Avoid This Toxic Avocado Situation When Purchasing Latex Mattresses?
There are three parts to avoiding the Avocado mattress mess. Part of this is to look for specific certifications and the other part is an overarching common sense type of rule. Here’s what we suggest to avoid most of the chemicals within the Avocado mattress:
- GOTS Certification: Ensures the entire mattress is “non-toxic” in general and mandates site visits
- GOLS Certification: Mandates that synthetic chemicals used to manufacture the latex are at a minimum of 5% of the total
- Leadership: Good reputation & central corporate value of producing “non-toxic” products across the entire company
The last part of this recommendation is to avoid companies that are also producing other brands (& products) that have memory foam or polyurethane foam. This last rule would have protected you from the chemicals within the Avocado latex mattress lawsuit. It’s based on the idea that there is a temptation within the company to use materials for both sets of products — both organic & conventional. This is how we split the “better” from the “best” brands in this investigation.
Mamavation’s Investigation of Safest Non-Toxic Latex Mattresses
Not Our Favorite Latex Mattresses
This category represents products that we cannot verify have less than 5% synthetic chemicals in their vulcanization phase of latex manufacturing.
- Amazon Basics Cooling Gel Infused Mattress
- Amore Beds 2 Sided Natural Mattress
- Amore Beds Latex Hybrid Mattress
- Avenco Mattress Latex Hybrid
- Awara Mattress Natural Hybrid Mattress
- Awara Mattress Premier Natural Mattress
- Birch Natural Mattress
- Birch Natural Luxe Mattress
- Brooklin Bedding EcoSleep Mattress
- Dreamfoam Latex Mattress
- GhostBed Original Mattress
- Helix Latex Mattress
- LUCID Latex Hybrid Mattress
- Luma Sleep 100% Naural Latex Mattress
- Luma Sleep Two Layer Natural Latex Hybrid Mattress
- Luma Sleep Original Mattress
- Nest Bedding Finch Natural Latex Mattress
- Nest Bedding The Owl Natural Latex Hybrid Mattress
- Nest Bedding Lark Kids Mattress
- Nolah Mattress Latex Hybrid Mattress
- Saatva Zenhaven Latex Mattress
- Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress
- Saatva HD Mattress
- Sunrising Bedding Latex Hybrid Gel Memory Foam Mattress
- Wink Beds EcoCloud Hybrid Mattress
Better Latex Mattresses
This category is much better, but still has some issues. These products have GOLS certifications, but may not have GOTS certifications, or other useful certifications that require testing. Another confusing part is the GOTS certification. They may or may not have GOTS certification for the entire mattress, and may only have GOTS certification for components of the mattress only from another manufacturer. Finally, this is also a place with products that have all the certifications needed, but we have some concerns with leadership. This category also represents products that may have a parent company or sister company that produces regular polyurethane foam mattresses and use types of fire retardant chemicals or other questionable chemicals, possibly within the same manufacturing facility. This is problematic because it is more likely that the raw material streams could get crossed or mixed up.
- Avocado Green Mattress Organic Mattress
- Avocado Green Mattress Eco Organic Mattress
- Avocado Green Mattress Luxury Organic Mattress
- Avocado Green Mattress Organic Vegan Mattress
- Avocado Green Mattress Organic Latex Mattress
- Brentwood Home Hybrid Latex Mattress
- EcoTerra Beds Hybrid Latex Mattress
- Essentia Classic REM 5 Organic Mattress
- Foam Order Latex Mattress
- Holy Lamb Organics Natural Latex Mattress
- Latex For Less Natural 2-Sided Mattress
- Latex for Less Organic Latex Mattress
- Latex for Less Hybrid Latex Mattress
- My Green Mattress Kiwi Hybrid Mattress (Take 10% off products by using “mamavation” at checkout. )
- My Green Mattress Natural Escape Mattress (Take 10% off products by using “mamavation” at checkout)
- My Green Mattress Bunk Bed Mattress (Take 10% off products by using “mamavation” at checkout. )
- Plush Beds Organix Latex Mattress
- Plush Beds Vegan Mattress
- Plush Beds Eco Bliss Hybrid Mattress
- Plush Beds Cooling Gel Mattress
- Savvy Rest Serenity Mattress
- Savvy Rest Tranquility Mattress
- Silk and Snow Organic Mattress
- Sleep on Latex Pure Green Organic Latex Mattress
- SleepEZ Latex Mattress
- SleepEZ Latex Mattress- Hybrid
- SleepEZ Latex Mattress- Roma
- Spindle Latex Mattress
- Turmerry Natural and Organic Latex Mattress- different sizes
- Turmerry Latex Hybrid Mattress
- White Lotus Natural Latex Mattress
Best Latex Mattresses
This category represents products that have a GOTS-certified mattress (not just the components) and use GOLS latex. May also have additional certifications like OEKO-TEX Standard 100, MADE SAFE, or GREENGUARD. In addition, company values of these brands are also consistent. They do not have sister companies producing polyurethane foam or using flame retardants in other mattresses.
- Happsy Organic Mattress (Discount: $225 off your Happsy total purchase with code “MAMAVATION225″ While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Lifekind The Metta Latex Mattress
- Lifekind The Euro Latex Mattress
- Lifekind The Euro Soft Top Latex Mattress
- Lifekind The Lassen Latex Mattress
- Naturepedic Serenade Organic Hybrid Mattress (Discount: 15% off your Naturepedic total purchase with code MAMAVATION15. While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Naturepedic EOS Classic Organic Latex Mattress (Discount: 15% off your Naturepedic total purchase with code MAMAVATION15. While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Naturepedic EOS Pillowtop Organic Latex Mattress (Discount: 15% off your Naturepedic total purchase with code MAMAVATION15. While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Naturepedic EOS Trilux Organic Latex Mattress (Discount: 15% off your Naturepedic total purchase with code MAMAVATION15. While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Naturepedic Halcyon Azure Latex Mattress (Discount: 15% off your Naturepedic total purchase with code MAMAVATION15. While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Naturepedic Halcyon Arcadia Latex Mattress (Discount: 15% off your Naturepedic total purchase with code MAMAVATION15. While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Naturepedic Halcyon Elysium Latex Mattress (Discount: 15% off your Naturepedic total purchase with code MAMAVATION15. While supplies last. Cannot be used with other promo codes. Cannot be applied to past purchases. Valid one time per customer. Other restrictions may apply.)
- Obasan Classic Mattress (SPECIAL OFFER: With the purchase of any adult mattress, the customer will receive two complimentary pillows of their choice. Use discount code “MAMAVATIONBED” for two free complimentary pillows of your choice when you purchase an adult mattress.)
- OMI Cascade Latex Mattress
- OMI Lago Nouveau Latex Mattress