New trailers may smell of Formaldehyde .

Formaldehyde is a simple organic compound that exists naturally in the air we breathe, in plants, in some foods, and is also an important chemical found in many consumer products. Because it evaporates easily, exposure by most people comes from breathing air. When we take in formaldehyde, enzymes in our bodies naturally breaks it down.

Formaldehyde is one of the most commonly used chemicals on the planet. It is mainly used for three things: as a chemical intermediary, as a preservative and as an antimicrobial agent or disinfectant. As a chemical intermediary it is used in the production of some glues, insulation, lubricants, artificial silks, dyes and plastics. It is also used as a disinfectant in some cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, deodorants, lotions and nail products. It is found when wood is burned, in tobacco smoke, in natural gas and is even found in permanent press clothes.

Many of the glues used in making wood products; hardwood plywood, particle board and medium density fiberboard; contain some formaldehyde. These woods are used as flooring, paneling, cabinets, furniture, countertops and other components in RVs. Formaldehyde is used in treating permanent press fabrics and may be found in clothes and curtains. While most of the formaldehyde used in making these products is consumed during the manufacturing process a very small amount remains. This leftover formaldehyde dissipates over time as it works its way out of products.

Some people are particularly sensitive to formaldehyde, not unlike an allergic reaction. For these people, coming in contact with formaldehyde can cause their eyes to water or itch, their nose to run or their throat to feel sore. Other people just find the smell objectionable. If an RV has a pungent odor or if you experience any irritation, the best bet is to ventilate.

The safest method to remove the smell of formaldehyde is to “cook” it out. By heating up your RV, the building materials that contain formaldehyde are encouraged to give off gas at a faster rate.

    Remove all plants, food, clothing, bedding and all cooking utensils from the RV.
    Open all cabinet doors, closet doors and drawers. Since furniture may contain formaldehyde, set up cushions so as to have the greatest exposure to open air.
    Turn the RV’s thermostat up to the highest level.
    Close all the windows, doors and vents.
    Leave the rig closed up with the heat on at least 12 hours.
    Open outside doors, windows, and roof vents. Turn on any vent fans, and consider using additional fans to remove the fumes from the RV. Ventilate for several hours.
    You may have to repeat the heat/vent process several times.

An alternative is to convert the formaldehyde gas into a harmless compound through a chemical reaction with ammonia gas. When these two gasses are combined, the resulting product is water and a harmless compound called an imine. This procedures uses ammonium hydroxide. This ammonia, while it will eliminate the formaldehyde problem, contains strong irritants that also affect your eyes, nose, and throat during the fumigation process. Be sure to wear a protective mask, eye protection and gloves while handling the ammonia.

    Remove all plants, food, clothing, bedding and all cooking utensils from the RV.
    Open all cabinet doors, closet doors and drawers. Since furniture may contain formaldehyde, set up cushions so as to have the greatest exposure to open air.
    Turn off the LP gas at the container and empty all water tanks.
    Depending on the size of your RV use one, two, or three wide, shallow plastic bowls. Pour about one-half gallon of ammonia into the bowls. Place the bowls on the floor on a flattened plastic bag in each area of the coach.
    Close all the windows, doors and vents.
    Allow the ammonia to stand and evaporate naturally for a minimum of 24-hours and up to three days.
    Open all the windows, doors and vents. Turn on any vent fans, and consider using additional fans to remove the ammonia fumes from the RV.

The remaining liquid in the plastic bowls can be safely poured down the sewer drain, since it is comprised mostly of water at this point. There should be no residual formaldehyde present after this fumigation process and venting of the RV. It may be necessary, however, to vent the coach several times to rid the RV of any leftover ammonia smell. This should effectively solve your problem.

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