RV toxicity is a real problem that many people are not typically aware of until they purchase a new RV. In fact, not only many new recreational vehicles have toxicity problems, but older units can as well. What is the root cause of toxicity in RVs? In a nutshell, many of the building materials used to manufacture recreational vehicles are laden with chemical residue that slowly out gasses over time. That is why when many people enter new units they notice a pungent odor that irritates their eyes and throat. Even though there are Federal regulations that supposedly restrains the problem of RV toxicity, these regulations only offer a minimum requirement on the use of many types of materials.
What are the biggest chemical offenders?
The most often used chemicals in building materials are formaldehyde and petrochemicals, although there are many more than can be found. These by far are the most toxic to many people and have caused serious reactions such as respiratory problems, dizziness and general body weakness. Some people have suffered permanent health damage because they breathed the fumes from the interior of a camper. Formaldehyde is found in the most common places such as particle board and plywood in cabinets, flooring, walls, ceilings and in fabric. Petroleum based chemicals can be found in vinyl trim, floors, wall coverings, and bathrooms.
How can I avoid RV toxicity?
Frankly, in order to avoid toxic materials in most campers, you will either have to purchase a custom made RV or attempt to renovate an older one. There are a few manufacturers that will customize campers, but you will have to take a hands on approach and use a watchful eye during the process to ensure that there are no materials used that are beyond the toxic level that you prefer. A custom RV will be cost prohibitive for some.
In that case, it is possible to renovate an older camper, but you will also need to use a hands on approach in spelling out the types of materials you prefer and what you want removed or replaced. Again, a watchful eye is also needed to ensure that you actually get only the material you want placed in the unit.
Another option is to simply seal the interior of the RV as well as possible to inhibit chemical fumes from gassing off too much while you camp. A few companies such as the AIM Company offers products such as Safe Seal that can seal new carpet fumes, walls, wood, plastic and other problem areas. Some people have seen good results but it is certainly not as totally safe as renovating or customizing a new camper.