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Old 08-11-2022, 06:10 PM   #1
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Liver Disease/Problems Caused From Full Time RVing? RV Toxins?

Greetings,

Just wondering if anyone has insight into possible liver disease or problems due to living full time in an RV, or some kind of toxins that cause liver problems???

I'm 37, male and 135 lbs, non drinker, non smoker/drugger, absolutely no family history of liver diseases. I have no pre-existing health problems and I'm (was) active. I've been full-time RVing for 3 years now in southern NM. Last year at this time, I developed a really bad itchiness that never goes away and gets unbearable at night time. After a few months, I saw that doctor and they found that my liver enzymes are extremely high, like 10x higher than normal. They did the Hepatitis A, B, C and D virus tests and I don't have those.

None of the medicines are working. They did an ultra sound and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Dr. thought it might have been gallstones, fatty liver or something obstructing the bile duct, but those stones aren't really showing up like he expected. They did a biopsy and the results came back as inconclusive. However, they are leaning towards the cause being "drug-induced, toxin-induced or infection" - but I don't do drugs of any kind (Tylenol very rarely, I already knew about it being dangerous if you take too much) and I can't think of any toxins or major infection.

My dad lives with me as well. He's a smoker and has diabetes and stuff. He was complaining of stomach pains and stuff, which he's had for years, even before RVing. However, they did a CT scan of him last week and found that he's having weird liver problems as well, with gallstones or bile duct problems suspected - similar to what I now have. We both thought this was quite a coincidence, since no one in the family ever had liver problems, but it just happens to the two of us within the 2-3 years of us living full time in an RV. Before the RV, we lived together at the house, so I've had secondhand smoke my whole life without any affects - we have lots and lots of smokers in the family, never any history of liver problems. We did the water testing at the house every year and it was perfect water there. No one else at the house ever got liver problems in the past.

I'm suspecting maybe the RV itself might be giving off toxins? We live in an 2008 Winnebago Sightseer 34J. Does anyone know if there was a toxin or recall issue with this RV? We only drink bottled water from walmart and only use bottled water for cooking. The water hookups should be from city water, the only water toxin source I could think of is possibly chemicals in water being absorbed through skin in the shower??? Unless the water or dust is laced with 1960s era nuclear testing uranium???

Also, the exhaust fan is almost always on, day and night, so there is fairly good air circulation.

So I'm just curious if anyone has insight or knowledge about this topic.
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:34 PM   #2
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I have been told I have high liver enzymes, is associated with high cholesterol, and was also told both runs in families (hereditary)
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:35 PM   #3
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What do you know about the history of your RV? If you acquired it when you started FT 3 years ago, then it was over 10 years old when you got it. If the unit was ever used as a meth production lab, that could be your answer. It could have been cleaned up to all appearances, but still be toxic to live in, especially FT.

You can find lots of articles online linking meth and liver damage/disease.

Good luck--
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:43 PM   #4
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Absolutely no way anyone could make any kind of determination that this is your cause. One important thing to note is correlation does not equal causation. We have a tendancy to connect dots that don't really connect, and to ignore dots that do. It's a very common thing to do and we all have a tendency to do it at some time. It might not even originate in the RV, could be something in the local external environment. I know when we spent the winter in the desert southwest, my wife and I had constant problems with our sinuses most likely from the dust and dry air. Living near agricultural areas can expose people to chemicals too. Pesticides, fertilizers, soil amendments and lot of dust kicked up from tilling etc, can cause issues too. Trying to find an environmental cause to an illness can be a bit of a needle in a haystack because your living environment encompasses so many things, not only where you live, but what you drink, eat and breathe. Toss in genetics and it's a real challenge.

As for common RV irritants, If there's particleboard or pressboard of any kind in an RV, and there likely is, a common chemical irritant is formaldehyde. It's used in laminate countertops too. There can be other glues or finishes that can off gas, as can urethane foam, paints and foam in seat and bed cushions, carpet etc. Usually these peak right after manufacture and taper off with time, and these are also common chemicals in home construction so are not unique to RVs.

Other possible contaminants would be engine/furnace/stove fumes, carbon monoxide, or propane leaks, and the fact you are living in a more confined space so anything contaminating the air would take less of it to reach a certain level inside.

You may be able to contact a local health authority to see if you can get an indoor air quality test. It may not be cheap though, and it's important to realize it might find traces of things that while not harmful, could be alarming. Traces of harmful substances can be found in the cleanest places. Lab equipment is that good. You may end up worrying about the wrong thing.

Sorry to hear about your health problems and I hope you find the cause or at least get them under control. Finding the cause can take time, and it may never be found. Check the obvious first, like making sure the furnace, hot water heater and stove are working properly and are not putting fumes into the living space is a good place to start.
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Talloaks View Post
What do you know about the history of your RV? If you acquired it when you started FT 3 years ago, then it was over 10 years old when you got it. If the unit was ever used as a meth production lab, that could be your answer. It could have been cleaned up to all appearances, but still be toxic to live in, especially FT.

You can find lots of articles online linking meth and liver damage/disease.

Good luck--
I actually have no history of the RV before we purchased it, other than we bought it from a Dr. in Texas. From what he said, it mostly sat unused most of the time. He went on a few handful of trips with his kids and dog, and the inside looked nice and clean as well, not used much at all, and saw a few dog hairs.

Is there any way to test whether there are meth chemicals (or any other chemicals) in an RV???
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Old 08-11-2022, 07:00 PM   #6
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Other possible contaminants would be engine/furnace/stove fumes, carbon monoxide, or propane leaks, and the fact you are living in a more confined space so anything contaminating the air would take less of it to reach a certain level inside.
We got the carbon monoxide detector and propane leak detector working as well. I should also mention that we have an exhaust fan that is almost always on day and night.
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Old 08-11-2022, 08:01 PM   #7
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Buy a good quality air filter and run it constantly. Might not help your liver issues, but will help clean the air you are breathing. Good luck with your and dad's health issues.
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Old 08-11-2022, 08:35 PM   #8
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You could have a reaction to formaldehyde. It's used in chipboard and other items commonly used RV manufacture. Formaldehyde can cause liver damage, as well as skin reactions.
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Old 08-11-2022, 09:14 PM   #9
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You could have a reaction to formaldehyde. It's used in chipboard and other items commonly used RV manufacture. Formaldehyde can cause liver damage, as well as skin reactions.
It's a 2008. I would think those fumes have dissipated by now.
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Old 08-11-2022, 09:26 PM   #10
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It's a 2008. I would think those fumes have dissipated by now.
Quite so.......

And the formaldehyde issue was with the MASS Production trailers for FEMA after Katrina in 2005
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Old 08-11-2022, 11:28 PM   #11
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Even simple meds such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) can cause liver damage.

You're in New Mexico. Have you been there a long time & are planning to stay there? Do you filter your drinking water? Do you work? Some jobs would affect you.

A 2008 RV would not still give off-gases of formaldehyde.

Diabetes can cause liver damage.

Tobacco smoke can cause liver damage. You've been around it all your life.

Here's a good article to read on formaldehyde:

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp111-c1-b.pdf
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