Water Bed has a very stron plastic smell

We have a water bed that is wll over 20 years old.

We recently removed the cover, removed the air from all of the tubes,
and poured clean water and a bleach substitute in to refill to the proper level.

We also turned the thermostat to a lower temperature.

We then placed the cover over the bed and zipped all around.

Since we did this the bed has a constant and very strong plastic smell.
You can even smell the odor from outside the room.

It always had a faint plastic odor which could be detected while
lying in the bed. Now the odor is too strong.

Can this odor make us sick? Is it toxic?

And, why all of a sudden, is it smelling so badly?

Hi jodebg,

While I don’t know for certain … there are a few possibilities.

PVC plastic contains plasticizers to keep the plastic from becoming brittle. There are several chemicals that are used for this but one of them is a group of chemicals called Phthalates and some of these (the low molecular weight pthalates) that were in common use (such as DEHP) are now known to cause health issues with long term exposure even at low levels. Many countries have either banned them or are in the process of banning them and manufacturers are replacing them with less hazardous chemical alternatives.

Many waterbed conditioners contain plasticizers to “condition” the plastic and maintain the level of plasticizers which can prevent the vinyl from becoming brittle and this could be causing the release of VOC’s from the vinyl.

Heating vinyl can also cause chemical changes in the vinyl which can also lead to the renewed release of VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals).

It’s possible too that opening the cover has led to the release of a concentration of odors that were trapped inside.

This could also be connected with bacterial growth but this is usually accompanied by a “slime” inside the bladder or tubes and usually has a different smell.

While I don’t know for certain what your mattress smell is coming from … considering that it’s 20 years old the odds are higher that it contains DEHP or other low molecular weight Phthalates in the vinyl in which case it could be harmful yes.