Embalmed in Your RV: Formaldehyde Poisons Vacationers - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 07-06-2007, 12:35 PM   #15
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Name: Anne
Trailer: Escape 17 ft 2006 / 2005 Honda Pilot
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WOW!!! Just got my first real exposure to this.

It's been really, really hot here and my trailer was all closed up - I went in yesterday to get something and couldn't stay in the trailer because my eyes were watering so badly. I quick turned on the fan full power and left the door open for a few minutes to air it out.

I now have the fan vent slightly open. I'll check again to see how bad it is.

New trailer + excessive heat + no ventilation =

Anne H and Fay Wray, the cat | Portland, OR
en Plein Air (2016 19' Escape; 2016 Honda Pilot )
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Old 07-06-2007, 12:56 PM   #16
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I've posted before about this topic on other forums --

My wife is ashmatic and has a HUGE problem with formaldehyde outgassing. Formaldehyde is used in carpeting, plywoods, and other wood composite materials mostly to prevent or retard rot. So I'm sure an RV's glues, plywood floors, cabinets, Scamp's rat fur, insulation, etc. is loaded with formaldehyde.

I guess the problem isn't the formaldehyde per se, it's what happens to it when it's exposed to heat. It outgasses into formalin gas (I think). My wife has had severe ashmatic reactions to it in RVs. We went into a new Sunline on a dealers lot (hot sunny day) and she had to exit and use her inhaler. We've been in RVs at RV shows and after going into 4 or 5, she'd start wheezing and has difficulty breathing. I guess its a combination of the amount of formaldehyde, temperature, and the tight enclosed space within the RV that raises the formalin gas concentration levels to such that it creates problems for her.

I've asked questions about it because I don't see how I'd be able to buy a new Casita at the TX factory with pickup during the summer, and be able to camp with her as we towed it back to VA. I know that as time passes the outgassing decreases. I also know that the best thing to do is close it up in the heat with a ventilator cracked and just let theformaldehyde "cook off" to accelerate the outgassing. I also read that for every 10 degree increase in temperature the outgassing doubles.

Given these factors, although we'd like to buy new, we'll probably look for something used simply because most of the formaldehyde will have outgassed.

For some, the outgassing doesn't pose a problem -- for others like my wife it could be deadly.

She'd also note that the folmaldehyde to hair link for me is well past since I already comb my hair with a damp washcloth... but then ther's the methane problem already alluded to...

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Old 07-06-2007, 08:22 PM   #17
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For some, the outgassing doesn't pose a problem -- [b]for others like my wife it could be deadly.
It is amazing to me all the insidious little places that this issue can crop up.

Back in late 2002/ early 2003 when we were shopping for a new tow vehicle, we visited the new car show at the convention center. We sat in every SUV and minivan there. After 2 minutes in a Dodge Caravan, Robert had to escape, due to the "plastic" out gassing. We discovered the same thing in the Plymouth Voyager and the Chrysler Town-and-Country. Toyota and Honda vehicles did not affect him. Non of them affected me.
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 07-07-2007, 06:46 AM   #18
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Gina, the outgassing in your Burro is either the left over solvent in the fiberglass, or a little outgassing from the the cushions and cabinet doors. There really isn't much else in your trailer that formaldehyde would have been used in the manufacture of.

One of the WORST outgassing products are visco-foam mattress toppers! And I have a new one coming! UGH!

You can judge the quality of the materials used in a trailer or motorhome by your ability to remain inside a new one on a dealer's lot on a hot day. Cheap ones that use a great deal of fiberboard and pressed wood are unbearable. Cheap carpets and cheap upholstery also out-gas. I first noticed this when going into a motorhome at one of our local dealers on a hot day a couple of years ago. Once coach in particular I lasted less than 10 seconds in. It was very inexpensive. The expensive coaches, OTOH, that use high grade materials, and real wood will still have some outgassing on a hot day, but nothing like the cheap coaches. I've even noticed some outgassing in our Bigfoot 25' on a particularly hot day when it's been closed up, probably from the wood products used in the cabinetry but it wasn't awful, and just a couple of minute's ventilation cleared it out.

Like carbon monoxide or any other gas, keeping the trailer adequately ventilated will cure a lot of ills.

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Old 07-07-2007, 12:14 PM   #19
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It was on TV of all the health problems the Katrina victims in Louisiana are having by living in the FEMA trailers all related to formaldehyde.
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Old 07-07-2007, 12:24 PM   #20
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When we picked our new trailer up in Rice, there was a trailer in the show room that was owned by a person like your wife and they were just leaving it open to air out before the owner picked it up. It was also being used as a display but was open and airing out. Maybe this solution might work for you. If you ask your sales person if they can open it up for several months in the protection of the show room, you could pick it up and camp on your way home.
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Old 07-07-2007, 10:58 PM   #21
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I was in some large fifth-wheel trailers a few days ago (yes, I know, looking at the dark side...) that had been sitting closed up all day in about 33 C heat (90 F), and found a strong skunky smell in places in all of them; my wife found the air made her throat burn in one. These were all very new (not in inventory for long), and were roughly $80,000 (Canadian) units - not particularly cheap stuff. Solid wood is certainly better than MDF and particleboard, but there's still the carpet and lots of adhesives.

There... another reason to buy a 30 year old trailer! The materials were no better (probably worse), but 30 years of airing out makes a big difference.

1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
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