Sick from natural latex foam bed
Jun 17, 2011 8:36 PM
Joined: Jun 17, 2011
Points: 4
Since there have been other threads about allergies to latex, I'll get right to the point.  I've tested nonreactive to latex in allergy panels, and never had any problems in any of the stores when I was shopping, such as Savvy Rest.  So when it came time to buy, we bought a non-returnable 100% natural rubber latex foam bed at the nearest dealer -- a store about 2 hours away.  It has an organic cotton and wool cover, and was rather pricey, but certainly competitive with internet prices for similar products.  I rate it high for comfort.

However, as soon as the bed came into the house in late October I started getting sick.  By early November, I got a cold/sinus infection that lasted nearly 2 months.  My doctor thought the problem could be mold, and after checking that out thoroughly with numerous medical expenses, I gave away porous possessions, threw out papers and books, etc. and started to improve.  But every morning I awakened with a sinus headache and congestion.  I wasn't willing to throw out the bed, as my house had never had a major mold problem (just a few spots in the basement) and the bed was new.  So we did the following experiment.  

After determining that I could sleep without symptoms on some 1970's  foam cushions on the kitchen floor, last night we took the latex pads out of the cover and put them on the kitchen floor underneath a clean cotton sleep.  I woke up significantly worse than I've ever been.  

My husband, who is not chemically sensitive, said that the latex foam had a strong odor when he took it out on the porch to air it in the sun.  

So, if natrual rubber latex is supposed to be

  • hypoallergenic
  • free of outgassing
  • and this bed is now nearly 8 months old

what am I reacting to? 

Any way I could find out whether it is some kind of preservative or chemical used in the processing, or some contaminant from storage in the warehouse?

Just in case I developed a latex allergy from continuous exposure for the last 8 months, I was retested today with RAST for IgG and IgM reactions to latex.

Meanwhile, is there any market for a very clean, slightly used natural rubber latex bed and if so, how would I find it?  Or do you think I could make a case for returning the bed?





Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #21 Jun 20, 2011 7:20 PM
Joined: Apr 15, 2011
Points: 163
budgy wrote:

All things in the universe do essentially decay over is true that polymers will 'out-gas' faster than say metallic substances such as steel.  Although even metals release molecules into the air...kind of a basic thing of the universe, entropy, diffusion.  Although we are talking incredibly small amounts of matter here, I wish someone that was a true specialist could perhaps give us a comparitive example ie: 10 years of sleeping on a natural rubber bed would be equivalent to wearing latex gloves for 30 minutes, or whatever the case may be.  


Even in our OP's case (as well as any other I have heard of someone reacting to a natural latex bed) the reactions began basically straight away or within a few days type of thing (delayed hypersensitivity).  

Budgy, I know you have a lot of experience in the latex mattress market. Can you please clarify why you think lying on a latex mattress overnight every night is less exposure than wearing latex gloves? Is it because you are presuming there are materials between the latex itself and the human body (ie., mattress cover, sheets, pajamas....whatever) or some other reason? I apologize if you explained this before, but I did not pick it up.

Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #22 Jun 20, 2011 7:49 PM
Joined: Dec 17, 2009
Points: 850
weewillywinky wrote:



Budgy, I know you have a lot of experience in the latex mattress market. Can you please clarify why you think lying on a latex mattress overnight every night is less exposure than wearing latex gloves? Is it because you are presuming there are materials between the latex itself and the human body (ie., mattress cover, sheets, pajamas....whatever) or some other reason? I apologize if you explained this before, but I did not pick it up.

well the covers will protect you from major/direct skin contact...but they don't completely isolate you from 'out-gassing'...but say with a powdered glove there is even .1 gram of powder, and of that .1 gram there is .1% polymer isoprene, then their is the potential release of 0.00001 grams of isoprene polymer that contains .5 percent of the actual protein that can cause a reaction, would be 0.0000001 grams of the antigen for two gloves being released either into the air where it can enter the lungs or be absorbed transdermally through the skin.  Sounds like a very small amount but the molar mass of natural rubber (polyisoprene) is 100,000 to 1,000,000 (100~1000lbs per mole), crazy range hard to calculate.  

one mole is 6.02214×1023    

So on the low end of molecular weight (100lbs) you have a normal natural rubber mattress has a mass say equal to one mole (to simplify). My calcutor cannot carry that the number of zeroes required before I even get to the power of 5 yet alone 23. We are talking insanely high numbers here which are hard for me to calculate, but also of that molecular weight there is say 0.1% antigen protein, we are talking 0.1 lbs of the whole bed or 45 grams of antigen.  Even with a total of 45 grams being inside the mattress we are talking quadrillions upon quadrillions of molecules that would have to be released.... have to take my number with a pinch of salt and a shot of tequila because I am no scientist.  But out-gassing occurs in incredibly small quantities of mass compared to being directly absorbed from a material like say skin on skin contact you have with gloves.  This is why I am trying to find something that can actually quanitify and objectify these kinds of exposures and say how much of a risk is it really.  

The other thing with gaseous exposure compared to direct is that diffusion pretty much guarantees in a relatively well ventilated place you will probably not even absorb a significant percentage of the antigens released into the air.

This message was modified Jun 20, 2011 by budgy
Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #23 Jun 20, 2011 11:07 PM
Joined: Apr 15, 2011
Points: 163
Thanks, Budgy. I think I understand a little better now. From this discussion, it seems to me that having the latex layers inside a sealed (i.e. zipped) mattress cover could be criticially important to avoid contact with the latex antigens or the offgassing of molecules. Is that your conclusion as well? I know some of the DIYers on this forum are buying zipped covers to encase their layers, but I think others maybe are not. I'm sure there is some individual difference in how sensitive people are, but then again, the literature indicates that the more you are exposed to latex, the more likely an allergy will develop. If an allergy did develop, that would mean having to probably replace the mattress with something else, I would think.
Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #24 Jun 21, 2011 1:44 AM
Joined: Aug 31, 2007
Points: 793
The bed may have fire retardant chemicals on it that I know I am very allergic to. I am also allergic to Polyurethane outgassing unless it is made without the outgassing problems.  Suede treated materials also bother me.  I got severely sick right away and could not breath from the so-called natural latex Simmons bed from Rockaway Bedding and they finally agreed to take it away when I found the tag label was not 100% natural and the other issues just mentioned in this post was making me ill.  I slept on the floor for a few weeks and then bought a 1" natural latex topper and found I loved the feel. I then bought a FloBeds natural latex bed and have had no problems.

Sorry about your troubles but for now, I would sell the bed and not get yourself sicker.

Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #25 Jun 22, 2011 12:07 AM
Joined: Apr 15, 2011
Points: 163
Just came across this website with posts from people who are getting sick from fire-retardant chemicals now being used in mattresses. This is something y'all might also want to consider.


Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #26 Jun 22, 2011 4:26 AM
Location: L.A. area
Joined: Jan 18, 2008
Points: 1160
I have some random comments on this:

First, it is my impression that the reason latex gloves are sometimes "powdered" is to make them smoother to get in and out of. I use latex gloves to shower with due to allergies to soaps and shampoos and believe me sometimes getting in and out of them can be difficult due to friction. So I think the powder is to reduce friction.

The OP mentioned putting the latex mattress out in the sun to get rid of the off-gassing or whatever. I wanted to mention that direct sun is very bad for latex, particularly synthetic latex, but I think all latex. It dries it out and when it gets dry enough it can turn to powder. If you go to mattress stores where they have Stearns and Foster latex mattresses on display sometimes you'll find a book next to their high-end models with latex that has latex samples in it. Many stores leave these near windows and the latex begins to disintegrate and you will find latex powder in there (not to be confused with the powder they put on latex gloves; I'm talking here about latex turning into powder from the sun and heat).

I am not sure but I am guessing that anti-dust mite covers like you get at *might* keep the allergens - if any - in latex mattresses from bothering the person sleeping on it. These covers are designed to keep out dust mites and/or trap them inside the cover, so maybe it might also keep out the latex "dust" or whatever... If it is indeed off-gassing that is the problem, they may well not keep the gas from escaping. But it might be worth a try. I have used these to control dust mites. The more expensive ones are softer and more cloth-like than the cheaper ones. The cheaper ones tend to feel and sound plastic-y.

I have been waking up with watery eyes every morning for a couple years now. It is possible - though I kind of doubt it - that this could be from the latex I sleep on. The reason I don't think it is, is because I slept on latex and memory foam for many months without getting watery eyes like this; and also our bedroom is prone to a lot of dust and pollen coming in from the window. So I think it's more likely the dust and pollen is what is causing my watery eyes. (I have been tested and shown to be allergic to dust and pollen). But sometimes I do wonder if it might be possible that the latex might be causing my watery eyes. Unfortunately the latex layers in my DIY "mattress" give me the best sleep I've had in years, so I am reluctant to get rid of it if all it causes is watery eyes. (I have been asthmatic all my life and my asthma and allergies have actually been better the past couple years so I am doubtful that any allergan is coming from the latex or else I'd likely be having more, not less, asthma.)

Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #27 Jul 15, 2011 11:38 PM
Joined: Jul 15, 2011
Points: 1
I am having the same exact trouble with the all natural latex mattress I just bought a few months ago. It's also supposedly all natural latex, organic wool cover, etc but it has a really strong smell that no matter how many allergy covers I put on does not seem to go away. Without the allergy covers on I got really bad asthma from it and now I just wake up feeling terrible. Today I feel like I'm getting a sinus infection from it. I'm really frustrated because it is also non-returnable and I spent a fortune. Previously I had a memory foam bed which also made me feel ill and spent extra money specifically to avoid these kinds of problems. I'm wondering if there is anyone who actually verifies the claims these manufacterers make. I bought mine in San Rafael, CA from a local business called "The Natural Mattress Company." I'm loath to call them about this because when I needed a comfort exchange they were not really all that nice about it and don't really expect them to be helpful but will if I can find evidence what it is that is causing the problem. 

Does anyone know if there are ways to get mattresses tested to see what is in them that could cause these kinds of reactions. I've also had a latex bed in the past that I did not have any type of reaction to so don't think I have an allergy to it. I almost feel like this bed has some sort of very fine particulate matter that is being released from it since the allergy cover I bought blocks particles less than 2.8 microns and I've layered on top of the allergy cover two older covers (from a smaller mattress I had) to try to further block whatever it is.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #28 Jul 16, 2011 4:39 AM
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Joined: May 13, 2011
Points: 170
I'm sorry to hear about your troubles.

I expect that even all natural latex is not alike.  Depending on who made it and how it was made, it may have different residual chemicals in the mattress.  Are you sure it's not the mattress enclosure that's the problem?

And "all natural" latex mattresses are not 100% chemical free.  Chemicals are used in processing the latex.  I believe that they are then washed out by additional washing processes using water.  I believe that the better "all natural" latex is about 95% latex.

Do you know the manufacturer of the latex in the mattress you purchased?


Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #29 May 14, 2012 7:50 AM
Joined: May 14, 2012
Points: 1
We recently purchased a royal latex Englander that is labeled organic.  Ever since we got the bed, I started experiencing a sore throat within a few days that has now developed into a sinus infection.  Never having had a sinus infection in the past, I am wondering whether it is due to our new bed.  Is this possible?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Re: Sick from natural latex foam bed
Reply #30 Mar 21, 2021 12:00 AM
Joined: Mar 20, 2021
Points: 1
I was diagnosed with MCS in the late 1980's. My new ORGANIC NATURAL RUBBER LATEX mattress is off-gassing a sweet vanilla smell that is pungent and definitely not the "mild" smell some people have called it.

I do believe anyone bothered by this smell has a case for returning the mattress and getting a full refund. The reading and research I've done since I received the new mattress convinces me there is no kind of natural rubber latex mattress on the market that a person with MCS should seriously consider buying because the non-organic ones use toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process of the latex itself: and the organic ones are so pungent that I am convinced some kind of air-exchange off-gassing is occurring, even though the maker of the mattress assures everyone it is "non-toxic". I believe the day will come when someone will identify just what that gas in the air is that we call "off-gassing" of the organic latex.

I so appreciate hearing what people are having to say on this subject. And I suspect the mattress makers, or the "organic" latex industry itself, are not telling the whole truth about organic natural rubber latex and its safety. It is my opinion that all such factories and retailers should have some kind of notice to people who are chemically sensitive to possibly consider not choosing the organic natural rubber latex.

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