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Do You Really Want to Buy a Backpacking Tent?!

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The following is a publication from the American Chemical Society You can read the original article on their website: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.6b00923.

Characterizing Flame Retardant Applications and Potential Human Exposure in Backpacking Tents

Genna Gomes • Peyton Ward • Amelia Lorenzo • Kate Hoffman • Heather M. Stapleton*


Flame retardant (FR) chemicals are applied to products to meet flammability standards; however, exposure to some additive FRs has been shown to be associated with adverse health effects. Previous research on FR exposure has primarily focused on chemicals applied to furniture and electronics; however, camping tents sold in the United States, which often meet flammability standard CPAI-84, remain largely unstudied in regards to their chemical treatments. In this study, FRs from five brands of CPAI-84-compliant, two-person backpacking tents were measured and potential exposure was assessed. Dermal and inhalation exposure levels were assessed by collecting hand wipes from 20 volunteers before and after tent setup and by using active air samplers placed inside assembled tents, respectively. Organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs) were the most commonly detected FR in the tent materials and included triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TDCIPP) and tris(2-chloroethyl)phosphate (TCEP). Levels of OPFRS measured on hand wipes were significantly higher post-tent setup compared to pre setup, and in the case of TDCIPP, levels were 29 times higher post setup. OPFRs were also detected at measurable concentrations in the air inside of treated tents. Significant, positive correlations were found between FR levels in treated textiles and measures of dermal and inhalation exposure. These results demonstrate that dermal exposure to FRs occurs from handling camping tents and that inhalation exposure will likely occur while inside a tent.

Did you notice that this information about the dangers of FR tent materials has been known since 2016 and suddenly in mid- 2019 it is now being made available to the general public? All of these self-righteous people working in the outdoor industry selling tents I suspect knew this FR information but chose not to change immediately.

Deep in the recesses the chemical tris was used for children’s sleep wear in the late 1960’s but it proved to be toxic when it was burning. The fumes created were the toxic problem so ALL of the manufacturers who made these garment’s ended production and I believe took all of them back from the retailers who had them on their shelves.

I think ALL persons who happen to own any tents purchased in the last 30 or 40 years should return them to either the retailer they bought them from and if the retailer is no longer in business which maybe the case return them to the manufacturer. As we are now learning even if the tents are not burning just handling them is dangerous. As the Article states; setting them up is many times more dangerous than carrying them. Of course getting into one gives you the opportunity to inhale the fumes. And you went out for a quiet week of communing with nature in what you believed if asked for a safe holiday camping.

I have noted for years about the lack of knowledge exhibited by most people who are employed in the outdoor industry. They chose not to make any effort to learn about materials. They take the word of individuals like bobby gore spouting his great lie of waterproof breathable material. They believe mike joyce when he lies about his chopped staple fiberfill. They believe the entire snake oil salesman who represents the chemical companies that hawk their chemicals applied to fabrics so it stops you from sweating so you don’t give off odor. Why is this case; because the youth of the industry dating back 30 years have never been taught to think. This is not what they do they do not think.

“Thinking is not an automatic function. In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one’s consciousness is volitional”.


The lack of thinking is extends to the upper management of these companies because they too are products of the not taught to think generation. Back in the 60s when the tris debacle took place the manufacturers stood up and took it on the chin. When the EPA got involved all chemicals used for FR materials were extensively tested and the mills had to comply for safety. Today when these companies like rei buy tents made in China the Chinese do not have regulations dictated to them like our EPA imposes on mills so the result is the cheapest and most unsafe they can make. Breathing in those fumes will build up in your body and 20 years from now if you develop cancer you will not necessarily remember “I used a FR treated tent in my youth”.

Today the outdoor industry is all about sustainability and ending pollution. How about the sustainability of the lives of your customers? Don’t they count or is it just the money that they have that you work diligently to extract from them buy selling them poor quality products that do not perform as advertised and now we find that at least two products are dangerous; tents and sleeping bags.

I have one good friend of 50 plus years in the industry and aside from agreeing the USA is not the same as it was when we when we were born, the textile industry isn’t the same as it was when we entered it in the 1960s.


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