At Rancho Quieto we aim to create an EMF-free and Environmental-Toxin-free environment as we can achieve.
That is why you have heard us recommend that prospective visitors to the campground or the neighboring community learn all they can about choosing and purchasing as healthy a camper as they can, and that owners of recreational vehicles understand the Green Certification features of camping vehicles they may already own.
That “new” smell people talk about is almost always one that’s laced with VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and harmful components, not something to brag about. The “gassing off” of these often toxic chemicals can last for many years and in a small enclosed space, such as a travel trailer, that matters. The elderly, the young, the infirm or low-immune functioning among us are most at risk.
The accepted industry standard for the Green Certification of recreational vehicles has been created by an organization called TRA Certfication, and their certification rating process is explained in detail on their website at www.certifiedgreenrvs.com.
TRA Certification is an independent 3rd Party Certification/Inspection company based in Indiana. After evaluating an RV manufacturing facility, its procedures and practices, the RV is measured against criteria based on national consensus standards.
The Green evaluation criteria involve 4 categories: Resource Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency & Indoor Air Quality.
This is where the problem starts. Like LEED an other home certification systems, manufacturers can essentially cherry pick the “green” features they want, and ignore others completely. Their “points” rating systems awards some features a lot more points than others. Total points average qualifies RVs to boast Emerald, Gold, Silver, or Bronze ratings (in descending order of “Green-ness” points)
So, if you are interested in health the points awarded in the Indoor Air Quality category will mean the most to you, since it is what you will be breathing in, but the company’s reuse of construction materials or disposal methods, also defined as “green” will not.
And while you might hope that points in the Water category would apply to healthy drinking water, you’d again be surprised to learn it has more to do with water conservation, not the type of plastic (PVC? BPA?) pipes that the water is transported in.
Certain brands of RVs are now boasting the TRA Green Certification labels, such as the Coachman Viking with its low Bronze Rated Green Certification, or the Coachman Apex with its higher Gold Rated Green Certification. We own both these recreational vehicles, and have talked to the manufacturers about their health minded features.
So, let’s take a closer look at the health minded features that concerned us the most:
Here’s how TRA Evaluates RV Indoor Air Quality:
MANDATORY – All wood materials are CARB 2 compliant
Low VOC materials are used – 2 pts each, max 20 pts (Based on LEED for Homes standards)
Zero or minimal carpet is installed (slide outs/cab allowed) – 10 points
Non-emitting materials are used – 5 pts each, max 50 pts
Mechanical ventilation/exhaust devices – 1 pts each, max 3 pts
Natural ventilation – 2 pt each open-able skylight, max 6 pts
Ductwork is off the floor (5 pts) or protected/vacuumed at final (3 pts)
Carbon monoxide detector is installed – 5 points
These are all great (health supporting) ideas, but only one of them is “mandatory.” The rest are just optional point-grabber that manufacturers can pursue or ignore.
We encourage RV buyers to research any RV they are considering in terms of health features, and make the best available choices, including buying used Green Certified RVs that have already gassed off for a long time.
Additionally, developing habits designed to air out the interior irregularly (especially during sleep hours), purifying the water on board, limiting your indoor time, avoiding chemically based cleaning products, perfumes etc., in this small a space, monitoring off-gassing conditions that increase with heat and humidity.
Multiple Chemical Sensitives will need to find more custom built RV solutions to achieve the highest toxic free levels possible. See the comments section below for reader recommendations.
CARB2: California Air Resources Board Compliant RVs
So, since all Green Certification levels must be CARB2 compliant, let’s look at what CARB 2 compliance means. This little-understood term refers to a standard set by the California Air Resources Board, limiting formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products in an attempt to improve indoor air quality.
The actual limits are:
Medium-density fiberboard (MDF): 0.11 PPM
Thin (<8mm) MDF: 0.13 PPM
Particle Board: 0.09 PPM
Composite Core Hardwood Plywood (HWPW-CC): 0.05 PPM
Veneer Core Hardwood Plywood (HWPW-VC): 0.05 PPM.T
Formaldehyde comes from industrial effluents and is emitted into air from plastic materials and resin glues. Formaldehyde in drinking-water results primarily from the oxidation of natural organic matter during ozonation and chlorination. Concentrations of up to 30 μg/litre have been found in drinking-water. Formaldehyde can also be found in drinking-water as a result of release from plastic fittings.
Since 2004 formaldehyde has been classified as a Group 2A Carcinogen, and many critics have pointed out that any amount is too much, including the CARB2 standards. In 2010 the EPA also called out the RV industry to replace formaldehyde with less toxic products.
The rationale and the technology supporting zero tolerance for formaldehyde is here, as is the growing awareness of the need for more healthful living environments. Speak to your RV sales people and manufacturers and let them know what healthy features you want for your money.
For those looking for the lowest chemical environment possible for your RV respites in Nature, we appeal to readers to share any toxin-free RV resources they know off in the comments section below, or contact us so we can add updates.
PLEASE ADD YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TOXIC FREE RVS and RV PRODUCTS BELOW: