Why Do Some Sleeping Bags Have a Cancer Warning?

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Sleeping bags and camping go hand in hand, but you might be a little bit worried about why some of them have cancer warnings on their labels. After all, you’re likely headed to the great outdoors for some fresh air, not cancerous chemicals and stress! The reasons behind these labels aren’t as bad as you think, though.

Some sleeping bags have cancer warnings because the materials used are known to some states (usually California) to potentially lead to cancer. These materials include the cleaning supplies used in production factors, flame retardants in the sleeping bag, and dyes used to color the gear.

In this post, we’ll show you why some sleeping bags have cancer warnings, whether or not they’re worth looking into, and what you should do to keep yourself safe. We’ll also explain what makes some sleeping bag materials dangerous.

Does My Sleeping Bag Contain Cancerous Chemicals?

Your sleeping bag doesn’t contain cancerous chemicals, but some of the dyes, pesticides, and cleaning products that it could’ve come in contact with might have them. These chemicals are listed on California’s Prop 65 that contain several products that have a history of leading to cancer, but that doesn’t mean your sleeping bag is dangerous.

So, what cancerous chemicals are found in some sleeping bags?

  • Prop 65 lists most artificial dyes as potentially carcinogenic. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the dye causes chemicals; It simply means there have been cases in which cancer cells developed in the presence of these chemicals. Companies like TETON Sports do their best to avoid such dyes.
  • Some sleeping bags would have cancer warnings if they were made in the same factor as potentially carcinogenic products. For example, if the sleeping bag is exposed to vehicle exhaust, herbicides, and other chemicals, it has to be listed under Prop 65 as possibly being cancerous or dangerous.
  • Additives used in the creation process, such as rain repellents or cleaning products, require companies to add a cancer label to their sleeping bags. Again, this label is usually only added for Prop 65 in California, but it can be shown in several states since the company buys and sells in California.
  • Some types of polyester used in sleeping bags are mixed with cancerous additives that increase insulation, water resistance, and more. If you’re worried about using a polyester sleeping bag, you can try nylon or non-treated polyester material. Many companies are working to remove the labels by changing their production methods.

While your sleeping bag might have Prop 65’s cancer warnings on it, that doesn’t mean the materials used to make it always cause cancer. In fact, there’s more than likely an additive or byproduct that can cause harm, but it’s so minuscule that it rarely causes issues.

If you want to learn more about the biggest cancer causer found in sleeping bags, read on.

Do Sleeping Bags Cause Cancer?

Sleeping bags don’t cause cancer unless they have PCF (perfluorinated compounds) known to be carcinogenic. These ingredients are usually added to repel water or prevent UV rays from damaging the material. They’re also found in other outdoor gear, such as boots, jackets, umbrellas, and tents.

According to Take Part, PCFs are found in the vast majority of modern sleeping bags. These chemicals are used to keep you more comfortable in your sleeping bag by stopping water from entering the fabric. Again, they’re more commonly found in synthetic materials like polyester, so it’s worth checking out before getting your sleeping bag.

The study goes on to explain these chemicals can leach into the soil and food supply, affecting the local animal population. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that it was performed by a third-party climate group. While their motives are undeniable, the findings are worrisome for many campers and outdoor enthusiasts.

It would take an incredible amount of any of the dyes, cleaning solutions, and other chemicals found in sleeping bags to make an impact. Furthermore, there’s no direct cases of people getting cancer solely from their sleeping bags. It’s far too difficult to track such data, especially with the influx of artificial chemicals used in most modern production facilities.

So, should you be worried about the Prop 65 label? Is there any legitimate reason to believe you might expose yourself to carcinogenic substances when camping? Find out everything you need to know below.

Are Sleeping Bags Dangerous if They Have Cancer Warnings?

Sleeping bags are potentially dangerous if they have cancer warnings because it’s an indication that something carcinogenic was used in the production process. The good news is that your sleeping bag should list the chemicals that were potentially harmful. If they’re pesticides or repellents, they can be removed.

Cancer.org claims most of the items found on Prop 65’s cancerous substance list require large amounts of the chemical to cause potential danger. However, some of them are listed to potentially lead to reproductive harm, birth defects, and similar health concerns. Most outdoor companies are required to add these labels to almost all of their products.

In fact, nearly every product manufactured with artificial chemicals, plastics, and repellents has to have a cancer warning on the label. If you want to stay away from these labels and potentially harmful chemicals, your best bet would be to bring pillows and blankets rather than sleeping bags. You would also have to avoid most tents, hammocks, and sleeping pads.

All in all, it’s more important to know which chemicals used in your sleeping gear can cause cancer and whether or not they’re a byproduct or primary additive. If you’re worried, contact the company and find out which items on Prop 65 are found in the product, research the items, and determine if they’re worth the risk.


Almost all sleeping bags are completely safe to use. However, these companies are required to list potentially harmful chemicals and other materials that made their way onto the Prop 65 list. Again, you likely won’t see these labels if the products aren’t made or sent to California since that’s where the list originated.

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