I grew up camping. We would take either a tent, or a pop up camper out each summer on vacation. My parents loved camping so much that they even bought a 5th wheel in their retirement. However, I wouldn’t necessarily call it camping since a 5th wheel has a bathroom, shower, kitchen, bedroom…
One summer, we all went on a family camping trip. My husband and I stayed in a tent while my parents stayed in luxury in the campsite across the road. My brother and his family also tented nearby.
The Air Mattress Was the Culprit
Since I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), traveling is more difficult. However, staying in a tent is actually less difficult than staying in a hotel room.
From previous experiences with air mattresses, I knew that I wouldn’t be sleeping on one. I slept on a lounger that my dad had remade with thick yarn. My husband (who doesn’t enjoy camping) slept on an air mattress next to me in the tent. Through the night, I woke up many times with a bad headache, my lips and tongue tingling, and my heart racing (typical MCS symptoms). I couldn’t figure out what was causing the problem since I was sleeping on a recycled lounger.
The next morning, I left our tent and went to my parents 5th wheel to have breakfast in “luxury.” After breakfast I went back to our tent, unzipped the door and noticed the strong fumes that I noticed through the night. It finally dawned on me. It had to be the air mattress! I asked my husband to remove the air mattress from our tent. After airing the tent out for the day, I was able to enter it again without experiencing symptoms. I felt bad that my husband was going to lose the comfort of the air mattress, but he took one for the team. The next night he slept on a lounger. (He was actually better off in the long run. He wasn’t sleeping on a toxic air mattress!)
PVC Plastics and Phthalates
Many air mattresses are made with PVC vinyl plastic. The volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from the plastic can give off toxic fumes long after the new mattress smell wears off.
The plastics used to make air mattresses can also contain phthalates. Phthalates are colorless, odorless liquids that are a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more flexible. Phthalates are easily released from products and are readily absorbed into the body where they can accumulate. They can disrupt normal hormone function by mimicking estrogen.
Phthalates are one of the problem chemicals highlighted by the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel in the report, titled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now”.
Non Toxic Air Mattress Options
Here are a few non-toxic air mattresses to choose from. However, I personally haven’t tried these, so I’m just taking the manufacturers at their word. Some of the air mattresses use Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) instead of PVC. Depending in ones sensitivities, some may not be able to tolerate TPU. TPU can vary in toxicity.
- AeroBed Pakmat Airbed – their airbed doesn’t contain phthalates.
- KELTY – their Sleep Eazy Airbed is PVC free; however, it is made from TPU.
- Alps Mountaineering Velocity Air Bed – their website states that “it is composed of a durable, completely PVC-free fabric.” Under their features, it lists that it is made of “durable PVC-free 150D TPU Polyester Oxford fabric”.
- Lightspeed PVC-Free Air Bed – their website states it is “made from eco-friendly TPU – free of harmful phthalates.”
- KingCamp Airbed – PVC-free. Made of 150D oxford with TPU coating.
Living Natural Today Wants to Know:
- Do you have suggestions for toxic free camping?
- Have you slept on either of these non-toxic air mattresses? What did you think?
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