I grew up camping. You would find me sleeping on an air mattress in a tent, or sleeping on a mattress in a pop-up camper 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…
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One summer, we all went on a family camping trip. My husband and I stayed in a tent with an air mattress while my parents stayed in ‘luxury’ at the campsite across the road. My brother and his family also tented nearby.
The Air Mattress in Our Tent Was the Culprit
Since I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), traveling can be difficult. However, staying in a tent can sometimes be less difficult than staying in a hotel room due to all of the cleaning chemicals and laundry chemicals used.
From my 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.
Throughout the night, I woke up multiple 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 in our tent!
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!)
Are You Sleeping on an Air Mattress With PVC 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”.
Is a Non Toxic Air Mattress Possible?
Unfortunately, many air mattresses come with toxic chemicals such as PVC, flame retardants and phthalates. Before purchasing an air mattress, I recommend reading the box or looking at the manufacturer’s website to see if you can find out what the mattress is made of.
Fortunately, there are a few options for a non toxic air mattress you can choose from. I list them below. Please note, I personally haven’t tried these air mattresses, but I have searched their website or have spoken to a company representative on the phone and have asked them questions. I’m taking the manufacturers at their word for the information they provide.
Some of the air mattresses listed below use Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) instead of PVC. Depending on one’s sensitivities, some may not be able to tolerate TPU. TPU can vary in toxicity.
Non Toxic Air Mattress Options
- Alps Mountaineering Vertex Air Bed – their website states that “it is composed of a durable, lightweight and completely PVC-free fabric.” Under their features, it lists that it is made of “durable PVC-free fabric”.
- Kelty Kush Queen Air Bed– PVC free; however, it is made with durable TPU laminated fabrics
- KingCamp Airbed – Made of 150D oxford with TPU coating.
- Lightspeed PVC-Free Air Bed – their air mattresses are made of PVC-free materials such as TPU.
- Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Women’s Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress – This PVC free air mattress is made of nylon.
Living Natural Today Wants to Know:
- Do you have suggestions for non-toxic camping when sleeping on an air mattress?
- Have you slept on any of these non-toxic air mattresses? What did you think?
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