Formaldehyde Reaction

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rdmjr66

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Feb 22, 2006
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I have owned a 2003 Jayco Jay Flight 27BH for 3 seasons, and am still having a reaction to the formaldehyde in the trailer.  When we first purchased the trailer, I got sick for a few days after our first trip.  I thought I had gotten a cold, but then it happened on the next trip as well.  After sleeping in the trialer I woke up with a clogged nose, than ran the entire day.  This would even continue for 2 to 3 days after our trip.  The dealer and Jayco said to close the camper up, turn on the heat full, and bake out the formaldehyde for 24 hours.  I repeated this numerous days each of the last 3 seasons.  Last year I only noticed a reaction on our last trip when it was over 90 outside.  I was sick again for 3 days after the trip.  I am now selling the trailer because I do not know what else to do.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?  My family is not showing any reaction, but I am concerned with long term effects.

Thanks,
Ron
 

Carl L

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I have  a dumb question:  Are you using any chemistry in your waste tanks?    If you are, remember that formalin is the most common chemical in them.
 

Jim Dick

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Ron,

Formaldehyde is a HUGE problem in modern RVs. I work part time at a dealership and have had to exit many units due to the problem. I open them up and let them sit for a long time before I can actually work inside. I have never heard of any lasting as long as yours. Has this happened to you in other RVs? Perhaps you are extremely sensitive to formaldehyde.

I really can't see where trying to bake out the formaldehyde would work. Some of our units sit on the lot for weeks in the hot sun. It doesn't seem to bake out any of the smell and they sometimes get much hotter than the furnace can make them. I don't imagine contacting Jayco and discussing the situation will really help but you never know.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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If this continues to be a problem for you, consider swapping your rig for a Lazy Days Class C motorhome. Their high quality construction avoids the use of many of the glues/composites that cause problems to some people. 
 

sltrawick

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Mar 14, 2006
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Panhandle Of Florida
I have the same problem with our brand new travel trailer. The question is, how do you get rid of it?  My first camping trip is coming up next week, and I need to get rid of this.
 

Carl L

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sltrawick said:
I have the same problem with our brand new travel trailer. The question is, how do you get rid of it?? My first camping trip is coming up next week, and I need to get rid of this.

For starters, I would thoroughly ventilate the trailer.  Get a large fan.  Set it in a doorway.  Open all vents and windows.    Turn on the fan and allow it to run for several days.  That is days, not hours. 

When you camp, keep vents at least partially open all the time.  Keep windows open.    Never stay in the trailer when it is buttoned tight as for travel.    Allow it to ventilate after unbuttoning it at the campsite.

What you are doing is preventing a concentration of the stuff building up in the trailer and encouraging it to evaporate away. 

You might also call the trailer manufacturer and see what they recommend.
 

sltrawick

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This is the reply I got:

Thank you for emailing with the concerns you have about formaldehyde.  We do not use anything with formaldehyde in the RVs.  The smell you are encountering is just the new smells of furniture, carpet, curtains, wood ect.  As with anything new this is just a smell that will wear out in time you may want to try to use a product such as febreze or burning a candle.  If this still doesn't work you can set out a bowl of tank freshener such as Enviro-Chem then close up your trailer for the night.  Come back in the morning and dump the tank freshener.  This will take the odor out of the trailer but your trailer may smell like this deodorizer for a while
 

Jim Dick

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Sharon,

From my limited experience, the smell of "new" furniture, carpet, etc has been due to the formaldehyde. I would not totally believe a manufacturer since admitting some products might contain formaldehyde could open up pandora's box. I have seen several rigs with the warning sign that formaldehyde is used. I guess there are some that don't use products with it but there shouldn't be an odor that drives you out of the coach.

When you are in the coach does the smell also affect your breathing? Does it tend to feel like your lungs are burning? If so it's most likely formaldehyde.

As far as using envirochem, I think I'd rather just air it out. :)
 

RLSharp

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rdmjr66 said:
I have owned a 2003 Jayco Jay Flight 27BH for 3 seasons, and am still having a reaction to the formaldehyde in the trailer.

Ron,

When we purchased our 1993 Itasca Suncruiser on November 22, 1992 with a departure commitment for a seven month trip leaving in 10 days, we had the formaldehyde problem that you are experiencing. I am a retire organic chemist and knew that the odor and burning sensation in my eyes was from formaldehyde. I about panicked because I knew that we were committed to living in our new motor home for at least seven months. I was reasonably sure that the formaldehyde was coming from the plywood and other woods used in the construction, since plywood, at least then, was made with a formaldehyde based glue. Some carpets also use formaldehye as a curing agent during the manufacturing process. We special ordered the motor home so it was brand new and never had a chance to "air out."

He is what I did. First I opened every door, drawer, and any thing else that could be opened and sat all cushions in an upright position. I turned the furnace on to it's maximum setting and turned an electric heater to it's 1500 watt setting. I let them run over night with the motor home closed up. The next morning, after opening all windows and the door and shutting the heat off, I put a window fan in one of the side windows and turned it on high. I also turned the two ceiling fans on high. These fans ran all day, while we packed and got ready for our trip. This was at times somewhat uncomfortable, since it can get pretty cold at the end of November in Rochester, NY. That night I again closed up the motor home and turned the furnace and electric heater up to maximum. I did this every day until we left 10 days later. By the time we left I could only sense a trace of formaldehyde and even then I am not 100% sure that it wasn't my imagination.

The really bad thing about formaldehyde is that you can become sensitized to it with repeated exposures. Since I had been exposed to it many times over the course of my career, I was really concerned about becoming sensitized to it and having a severe allergic reaction other than just burning eyes. It all worked out and except for a two week period when we stopped at our house on the way to the Rocky Mountains from Florida, we spent 8 1/2 months in our new motor home with no further problems. BTW, we went though a full tank of propane in 10 days and definitely added to our electric bill -- but it was worth it.

You might want to try this. As far as any chemical solutions, I personally do not think they will help. Perhaps they will mask the formaldehyde odor but you MUST drive the excess formaldehyde vapors from their sources and continue to do this until the sources (plywood, carpets, etc.) no longer out-gas fromaldehyde. As mentioned before, Jayco is covering their rears when they say no formaldehyde is used in their construction. They probably do not use formaldehyde per se, but I am willing to bet it is in some of their starting materials. Some states, California for one, require that all products manufactured (and possible sold) there that contain formaldehyde MUST be labeled as a carcinogen. Jayco certainly does want the liability that formaldehye could cause.

Good Luck!

Regards,

Richard
Rochester, NY presently in Tucson, AZ for the winter

 

Karl

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Richard,

I was reasonably sure that the formaldehyde was coming from the plywood and other woods used in the construction, since plywood, at least then, was made with a formaldehyde based glue. Some carpets also use formaldehye as a curing agent during the manufacturing process.

Right on the money, and they still do! And you can add upholstery fabric and permanent press fabrics to the list, and some cosmetics, shampoos, and household cleaning agents too.

There are test kits you can buy to check for the presence of formaldehyde, but they're expensive (one I saw was $85) and don't do anything about getting rid of the stuff; the lab merely tells you if it's present and in what concentration.
 

JGarrick

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RLSharp said:
I turned the furnace on to it's maximum setting and turned an electric heater to it's 1500 watt setting.

What's the purpose in getting it hot in there?
 

RLSharp

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JGarrick said:
What's the purpose in getting it hot in there?

The heat causes the formaldehyde to vaporize more quickly. Left at ambient temperatures it would require a much longer time for the out-gassing to take place, especially during November in Rochester, NY. Recall that we had just ten days to solve the problem due to our committed departure time.

Richard
 
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