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Campaign to Halt the Import of
Chemical-Emitting
Smelly Plastic from China


What to doResponsesOther reportsReports from ChinaGalleryNot only plasticNot only China

No, you're not crazy or overly sensitive — there really is a horrible smelling chemical coming from that item you recently bought that was made in China. New chemicals appear to have entered the Chinese manufacturing stream since around 2005 or so that are now flooding into US (and now global) markets in a variety of products. Try Google on ["made in China smell"]. Something in the nature of the problem has prevented a widespread response — US toxics laws are inadequate, most people are either oblivious to odor, are too busy, stoic, in denial, passive, or resigned, to do anything, or believe that the chemicals will “air out”, or don't realize this is a new problem, or — most dangerously — think it is “normal”. This Web site is created in the hope of changing that. Below is a description of how I came upon this issue, followed by responses to this web page, and other reports from the web on the problem.

BREAKING NEWS
July 24, 2012, 2:23 p.m. EDT: Health Care Announces Support for Safe Chemicals Act on Eve of Committee Vote

Let your Senators know you support the Safe Chemicals Act. Click HERE or HERE .

2012-6-19: Samsonite Pulls Luggage Amid Cancer Claims. It appears that the plastic chemical issue is starting to get business-media attention (although the story does not address where the luggage was manufactured).
“Samsonite sent random samples of the products to laboratories in Germany and Hong Kong to assess the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the handles...”
2011-9-6: A preliminary study of a sample of rubber on a violin case from China smelling of “Chemical A” shows that it is outgassing large quantities of tetrachloroethylene (also called perchloroethylene, tetrachloroethene, PERC, PCE). PERC is now identified as toxic to brain development:
“PERC is not only a central nervous system toxin, but also is suspected of affecting the liver, kidneys, immune system and reproductive organs.”
Here is an excerpt about tetrachloroethylene from the Toxic Substances Portal at the Center for Disease Control:
“Tetrachloroethylene is a manufactured chemical used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing. Exposure to very high concentrations of tetrachloroethylene can cause dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, difficulty in speaking and walking, unconsciousness, and death. Tetrachloroethylene has been found in at least 771 of the 1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ... The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that tetrachloroethylene be handled as a potential carcinogen and recommends that levels in workplace air should be as low as possible.
2009-12-3: Lab analysis shows Christmas ornaments from China emitting high levels of 1,2-dichlorethane (DCA):       [Story 1]    [Story 2]:
“... all the ornaments combined were emitting levels in the range the EPA predicts could cause cancer, between 0.094 and 9.4 micrograms per cubic meter. His tests also revealed that an ornament could theoretically emit the toxic chemical for up to 345 days. Because all the ornaments seemed to come from one factory in China, he said, he's not sure how widespread the problem is. Regardless, he notes that the chemical is banned from use by U.S. manufacturers.”

In the summer of 2007, on my last day in Beijing after teaching at a science summer school, I took a stroll and came across a music store. I ended up buying a low priced violin and traditional Chinese hulusi. The hulusi case, pictured here, put out an odor I had never smelled before. It reminded me of something though... and that was the sheep dip I had used raising sheep in 4-H as a child in California. I had no idea as a kid what sheep dip was — it was just something you used to keep your sheep clean. I later looked it up and it was some kind of organophosphate pesticide solution.

On the flight home, I tossed the hulusi case in my day pack, and carried it and the violin on the plane, putting the violin in the overhead compartment. As the long flight wore on, I started noticing that an odor similar to the hulusi case was coming from the violin case.

When I arrived home, the smell of the hulusi case had permeated my day pack, and months after retained the chemical odor. The violin case kept outgassing this smell as well, and would smell up a whole car or bedroom that it was in.

The next year when I was back in Beijing, I bought another, better violin, and its case had the same odor, with the greatest intensity coming from the black rubber-like feet on the case. I removed them, and put them in a plastic Ziploc bag. The smell passed right through the wall of the bag. I put a second bag around the first, and the smell passed right through the second wall. This was a really creepy chemical.

I searched online for any other reports of smelly plastic from China. In 2008, I found very few. But by late 2010, there are very many reports. The production of this smelly Chinese plastic therefore appears to be fairly recent. My own experience is that I had never encountered this odor before 2007. The earliest reports I find among product reviews is 2007. It seems to be present in synthetic rubbers and coated nylon fabrics. Some respondents to this Web site report problems going back longer.

Photograph: HAP/Quirky China News / Rex Feat
So, based on the evidence, my guess is that Chinese manufacturing plants started using some new chemical process to produce synthetic rubber-like plastic around 2005 or so, and that many new plants are being built that employ this process. Perhaps it is part of the large plastic recycling industry in China. China's industry is growing so fast that problems are probably emerging faster than they can be solved (check out this documentary). China's 10% annual economic growth rate means that half of today's factories in China didn't even exist in 2005.

In the past three years, smelly plastic from the People's Republic of China is now infiltrating markets all over the United States for a wide variety of products. See my list of some items, below.

I recently went shopping for a suitcase, and had to search very hard before I could find models that did not have this chemical smell.

I am a longtime owner of TravelPro suitcases — first, a RollAboard model from 1994, then Walkabout models from 2002 and 2003. None of these put out any kind of odor. Today, almost all brands of luggage (even Swiss Victorinox) are now made in China. The Delsey Helium Fusion I bought seemed o.k. in the store, but in my car, the chemical odor filled the vehicle. I returned it. Walking toward the Sears luggage department, from twenty feet away I could smell the chemicals outgassing from the collection of suitcases. The only model I found without a chemical odor was the TravelPro Crew 7. And indeed, the Crew 7 line is not made in China, but in Thailand. The Walkabout Lite 3 model by TravelPro is made in China, and has a strong chemical odor. However, it is a different odor from that of the violin case and Delsey bag. So, I am referring to the original odor as "Chemical A", and the TravelPro Walkabout 3 Lite odor as "Chemical B". I have encountered Chemical B coming from the foam pads on the bottom of desk lamps made in China, and from an office chair. See below.

Recently, I have tried to find a ukulele gig bag, and all of them are made in China and all of them exude "Chemical A". Rooms in several music shops I've visited where the bags and cases are stored all reek of "Chemical A" or "Chemical B".

Now, it's long known that some plastics outgas smelly chemicals. New vinyl outgasses toxic vinyl chloride and other chemicals, which may be injurious [PDF]. Old waterproofed nylon raingear and tents can smell awful (like vomit). Polyurethane foam in mattresses outgasses chemicals that many people are complaining about. I learned from one forum that cellulose acetate butyrate handles on old tools can put out malodorous butyric acid.

But this wave of synthetic material now inundating the United States, and presumably the world, from the People's Republic of China appears to have new chemicals we have not encountered before. Who knows whether they are safe? They smell terrible, they ruin the scent environment wherever they are brought. I do not want to have this smell in my life. But I am running into more and more products where all the models I can find have this chemical.

I have written to product manufacturers and some government agencies to bring attention to this issue, but have not seen any action taken. So I want to help network other concerned citizens and get some action taken.


WHAT TO DO:

  1. Some laboratory needs to identify the chemicals causing these odors and their identities made publically available.

    Forward the link to this page, http://dynamics.org/CHINA_PLASTIC/ , to any chemist, chemistry student, chemistry professor, environmental or consumer activist, or other person you know who could facilitate getting these materials analyzed. It would make a great and potentially publishable project for a chemistry student.

  2. Publicity for the issue. There need to be more minds working on it!
    • Post a link to this site, http://dynamics.org/CHINA_PLASTIC/ , on your own public web pages, e.g. FaceBook or YouTube. That will also make it easier for searches to find it.
    • Make videos for YouTube or groups on FaceBook, or start chain e-mails about their experiences with smelly plastic from China.
    • Once there are some laboratory results on the chemicals, the efforts to stop their manufacture and import could merit TV documentary attention.
    • Once a public interest group takes up this issue, it can use its resources of course to gain attention to it.

  3. Consumer groups, and government agencies, need to make this issue an action priority. I have contacted the following groups, who have not yet taken any action, but which you may wish to encourage: Center for Environmental Health, Consumer Reports, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Senators, Representatives, Hawaii Department of Health. Also: Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

  4. Congress needs to ban the importation of products containing these chemicals from the United States, for the minimal reason that it is polluting our sensory environment, and for the reason that these chemicals are possibly toxic. Time Magazine has this April 1, 2010 article on efforts to change Federal safety regulations on domestic chemicals.

    Recent recalls of thousands of bottles of drugs due to smelly contaminant tribromoanisole ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5]) show the huge disparity in regulation, and in consumer vigilance, between what we put in our mouths and what we put on our skin or breath through our nose.

    You can write to Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 at this web site.

  5. An enterprising attorney could invest the funds up front to get some samples of these materials tested at a laboratory, and file a class action law suit on behalf of American consumers against the appropriate parties. THAT would get people's attention.

  6. At the very minimum, individuals are responsible for exerting their own quantum of the market forces:
    • consumers need to inspect items for scent and refuse to buy or keep any item reeking of chemicals,
    • clerks need to report smelly stock to supervisors,
    • salespeople and others assigned to work in areas with air chronically contaminated with these chemicals need to go through channels to protect themselves from exposure, going all the way to OSHA if necessary.
    • managers need to pass reports up the line to those making purchasing decisions,
    • buyers need to refuse to buy smelly stock, even if they are selling well,
    • importers need to do the same thing, and lastly,
    • people in the manufacturing industries creating these materials need to be whistle blowers on whomever is deliberately choosing the processes that produce the smelly plastic.

Contact me if you have encountered any of this smelly plastic from China and would like to join forces in bringing attention to this issue.


Sample of Responses to this Web Site:


Reports without Confirmation of Country of Manufacture


Smelly Products Made Elsewhere

Readers have sent in growing numbers of reports of smelly synthetic products whose labels say they are manufactured in Europe or North America. It raises the question of whether China-made materials are entering the global manufacturing stream, or whether material manufacturers elsewhere are following China's lead in using outgassing chemicals in their synthetic production.

  • May 5, 2012:
    The worst thing has been the plastic rubber piece in the Miele Novotronic washing machine we purchased, at a cost of almost $2,000.00. The rubber seal smells of rubber and mothballs and makes your clothing smell of rubber and mothballs when you wash them in this machine. (Apparently some types of rubber contain naptha, and I think the rubber door seal has it in it.) The machine has a design flaw whereby in order for the water not to sit in the seal, the machine pushes the water through it while washing, thus making everything smell terrible. It actually ruined my dressers, making everything smell of mothballs.

    We bought it because it is made in Germany, but it appears it is a machine made exclusively for the Canadian market, so I imagine in Europe they most likely have higher end parts in them.

    Unfortunately, I cannot use the machine the smell is so bad - and toxic. Miele refused to discuss the issue. Whenever I phone Miele they actually are quite abusive and yell at me, and ask me what my problem is. ... If I'd read about this - anywhere - I never would have purchased it. Sadly I read only positive reviews prior to buying it.

  • February 15, 2012
    I am glad to hear other people are aware of this issue - I just consigned a lovely plastic purse made by LYDC I bought from e-Bay.co.uk to the bin, because the smell since I opened it just this morning was giving me a headache, sore throat, and even a dry cough - I've had TONS of plastic purses and stuff before, and this has never happened in the past. LYDC's stuff looks great (for its price range) and is all over e-Bay, I wonder how many people will have a bad reaction... I also had to bin some "jelly band" bracelets that I bought last year, because they gave off a smell after days on a sunny windowsill, yet I've bought and worn many of these in the past without any problems AT ALL. It's worrying me that products that were previously problem-free are now toxic, and this stuff makes me feel so ill (sore throat, headache, cough, and worst of all a general sense of malaise - and I'm not a fragile person, I don't have any medical problems or serious allergies) that I wonder where we'll be at in 5, 10 years if this keeps up?

    interestingly, the purse I have doesn't have any sign of where it was manufactured, which is highly unusual within the EU (who have their bad points, but are also very hot on quality of materials and so on). Usually goods are even marked with a CE logo, which means they conform to various standards - and I'm not just talking about baby goods or toys, I mean all kinds of stuff, so that's an additional factor here. Their website http://www.lydc.co.uk/ brings up this text ... "Please be aware of the unauthorized LYDC distributor in the US, as their inauthentic products are low-quality copies of LYDC London. They cannot reflect the image of LYDC."

  • January 30, 2012
    I came across your website after I had bought this noxious product on an ebay store in the UK. It is supposed to be an igloo style pet bed for my small dog.

    When it arrived, I could not believe how strong the smell was. I complained that they had sent me an low quality poisonous product and they offered me a refund if I paid to send it back. I refused the refund (illogical I know, but I couldn't bring myself to pay to send it back), so I washed it in the washing machine to see what would happen.

    Even after that it still smelled like it belonged in a chemical plant. So I am now looking for somewhere where I can get it chemically analysed. I am so furious with the people who sell it that I feel the need to publicly 'out' them. If I had put my dog inside this thing who knows what noxious gases she would have been breathing all night.

    The item was manufactured in the UK, in that it was cut and constructed here, however I suspect the "sherpa fur" and "faux leather" materials were bought in bulk from China.


    Other Reports (collected from the Web):

    • New Ceiling Fan Smell. 01-17-2012: "I just purchased a Hunter fan and noticed a really strong odor coming from the plastic hanger ball right when I took it out of the package. I have noticed this smell from cheaply made platic products from China. I believe it meets the description of the odor descrbed by JerseyGuy (oily lacquer smell), but it does not smell like formaldehyde as described by fyrefyter794. The problem with this cheap Chinese plastic smell is that it does not seem to dissipate over time. If you google "Made in China Smell" you will see similar reports or descriptions of plastic products made in china. I have only smelled this odor from black plastic products like cheap platic sandles and a handle on a cheap piece of luggage. You can leave these things outside for days and the smell will not go away!"

    • Smelly plastic from China. 07-04-11: "Has anyone had experience with plastic products from China giving off bad smells over time? I have an insulated plastic drinking glass (one with a layer of air between the inside and outside of the glass to prevent condensation on the outside). I have used it quite a bit in the last year or two to drink diet sodas. A few days ago I drank most of one (a Diet Coke with Lime), and went to finish it off and was repulsed by an appalling smell. I was not sure what to make of it, since I had not smelled anything for the first 80% of the drink. ...Well, today it happened again. Was 80% done with a diet coke, reached for the glass to take another sip, and yeesh! what a stench. ...I thought it might have been the ice cubes, or the diet coke, but neither of them alone (the empty can, or more cubes in another glass) has any odor. Nor is there any odor when I have another diet coke in another (real glass, not plastic) drinking glass. It seems to be that one plastic glass that is smelling bad. I am wondering if the acid in the coke has gradually worked some unholy magic on the Chinese plastic (I assume it is from China, everything is these days) or else the plastic has just broken down over time and with use/being exposed to light."

    • Smelly plastic. 2011-3-2: "What on earth is China using for plastics in the shower head?? This thing smell so bad that I'm tempted to pull it out and take it back to store. So far it works well but if it's anything like most bath room fixtures, I doubt it will work very well for long. PLEASE bring back American made products! I'm willing to pay more for them! ..."

    • Heys 20" Spinner and Beauty Hard Case Luggage. 11-22-2010: "Absolutely Cute & Stylish in the Leopard....but...the odor emanating from these pieces is overwhelming & I am not one who is touchy & sensitive!! I left it out on my back patio to air hoping it would help. It didn't."

      "Also, has anyone noticed the tag on the handle which is a warning that the "product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause CANCER, or birth defects or other reproductive harm.)? It is bound to be those chemicals that we are smelling!"

      "Was very disappointed once I opened the luggage. The smell was horrible. The only way I can describe this was a mildew, musty and/or medicine smell. I even aired it out for three days and still no change."

    • Industrial Chemicals. 2010: "Synthetic materials, including high quality fibers and rubbers, also present a significant export opportunity. Many Chinese chemical factories currently produce these products, but at a rate only sufficient enough to fulfill about half of domestic demand per year. Local products are also inconsistent in quality and can be highly toxic."

    • Sierra Comfort Professional Series Portable Massage Table. September 22, 2010: "it is worth the money, but it is stinky chinese plastic covered so you need to let it out gas as it stinks in a toxic way, so you need to cover it after out gassing is done".

    • Barcelona Chrome Snare with Stand, Backpack, Pad and Sticks. September 13, 2010: "OK except that it smells terrible. I bought this drum for someone else in the household, who loves playing it. Otherwise, I'd give it away or even throw it away, because after several months it still smells terrible. At first I thought it was just out-gassing and that the smell would go away -- but it hasn't. It still has that awful "made in China" odor that some things have. It smells toxic, really bad. As soon as I can replace it with one I can buy from a store (and smell first) I will. Meanwhile, I don't recommend it unless you're willing to return it right away if you get one that smells bad."

    • What is "that smell" regarding handbags.... 8/20/2010: "I have been a bagaholic for years now, and used to be rather skeptical at the posters who would complain that the bag they received had a terrible toxic odor, enough to even ruin the smell of your home, etc. ... Once you have received a bag with this "odor", you'll never forget it. If you haven't, you can't imagine how lucky you are and how unbelievably toxic this smell is."

      "I call it...the made in China scent! If you notice, products made in China have a very distinct odor."

      "I got a handbag years ago and when I opened the pkg. it just reeked from diesel fuel! We knew that smell because we drive diesel vehicles. I promptly sent it back! Why China would douse items in diesel fuel is beyond me. American made for me all the way with everything now."

      "My BIL is a maritime attorney in Seattle, his firm watches over all the ships that come into port with merchandise from China. He's told us for years that it's the 'made in China scent'. Some stores air them out, others don't bother."

      "There are certain plastic items from China that I call it the "Chinese plastic smell". I had a calculator that reeked. I also ordered an ozone-type air cleaner from QVC a couple years ago, it's pretty bad when an AIR CLEANER itself smells so bad you can't use it. I tried washing it, and airing it out in the garage for almost a month to no avail."

      "I've noticed this too. The smell can't be healthy for us. China has the highest cancer rate in the world. Surely if the U. S. isn't second, we will be soon."

    • Sunbeam 3916 Heritage Series 2-Slice Toaster. July 10, 2010: "Little Sunbeam in China is made with cheap materials... Black handles, levers, nesting and bone marrow are low, thin, smelly, soft, shiny plastic of poor quality. ...It stinks sixth. With common sense and follow the instructions before using. expecting to stink the small toaster with the first few attempts (without bread) – open a window – they leave from the air. I hope that the plastic not be more off the usual smell of plastic from China. Maybe I get rid of the toaster when it comes to emit odors continue – in fact it hurts me. It seems that China, a low melting point plasticizers that some people used to make sick. If you do not save themselves a dollar or go Harbor Freight Tools business without developing a headache and nausea, this toaster can make you sick as a new Chinese-made shower curtains."

    • Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser Microphone. July 4th, 2010: "Another problem is the faux leather case, which gasses off a WD-40 like smell and makes me sick. Whatever this smelly chemical is it is apparently common in cheap chinese plastic products and has caused me headaches and provoked me to repeatedly try and puke. Leave it to China to include toxic waste with your purchase."

    • Colin Cowie Set of 8 Basket Weave Charger Plates . 07/03/2010: "Can't believe I ordered these awful things!! Plastic from China you would get in the dollar store, and..They STINK too high heaven! I tried washing, airing outside, nothing could ever erase the stink. I couldn't send them back, couldn't stand to handle the paper and packaging again! I am going to call HSN for a refund, again, DON"T TRY THIS PRODUCT!!!!"

    • Why do many Made in China products smell like Toxic Death? 07-01-2010: From phone cords to furniture and everything in between, I have noticed that many products that are made in China have this hideous toxic smell. What is it? Is this some kind of chemical warfare agent? Just kidding. But seriously, the smell is on the product themselves so I don't think it has to do with shipping containers. It takes forever for the smell to go away and sometimes it just doesn't. It can't possibly be healthy for you. Anyone know the answer?"

    • Home Shop Machinist & Machinist's Workshop BBS. 05-12-2010: "Smelly Chinese Plastics. In the last five months alone, I've bought three items made of plastic or hard rubber that had such strong odors that I had to throw them out. All of the items were made in China. This seems to be a new ( to me) problem with Chinese products; their rubber and plastics compounding can be improper, and result in excessive odors." "Chinese rubber products do smell..... very strongly." "The smell of Chinese rubber and plastics is like going to garbage dump."

    • Kangaroo Keeper The Incredible Purse Organizer. 10/29/2010: "I was excited about receiving these purse organizers but the minute I took them out of the plastic bags there it was, that "smell", that horrible smell that some items made in China emit...the odour is overwhelming and made me literally nauseous, this is toxic and cannot be good for us...and to make things worst you can't get rid of it...would not recommend."

      11/13/2010: "I agree with Nicole, but I thought the smell goes away and I used for couple days in my tote bag and everything inside the bag and the bag itself smell the sames. I had to replace pretty much eveything."

      "I did read the other reviews before I bought this product, so I opened the packaging knowing full well there would be that smell. Yes it has that "Made in China" smell, but in spite of it I just installed the large and the small one into my expensive Coach bag, which for the big bucks doesn't have enough of pockets. So thanks to this system, the bag has now become functional. To be honest, the smell doesn't seem so bad, and let me assure you that when I open my bag the smell does not hit me in the face. However, I must admit there is still a hint of it, which I hope dissipates over time. So I chose functionality over smell and for me it has been the right choice. "

      11/18/2010: "i got these and yes they had a smell but i left them out on the counter for a couple of days out of the pk and the smell went away,i love them,now i can find things in my big tote bags"

    • Sigma Makeup Brushes. March 10, 2010: "I think that’s the one brush in the whole set that I have not used yet. Oh wait, the SS168 too b/c it SMELLS like plastic from China. EW." "Do they smell? Yes, after about six weeks of washing them, there’s still a noticeable smell. It was stronger in the first week or two of washings, but there’s still an off-putting scent there. I don’t usually notice it when using it, but since I knew it was a question being asked, I made sure to do a sniff-test throughout!"

    • Recall Panic. January 20, 2010: "Didn’t Walmart once have that campaign touting that everything they sell is made in the USA? What happened to that? I’m pretty sure most of their inventory comes from China. A lot of it has that “Made in China” smell. And there is a definite smell. A few years ago when I was hosting Thanksgiving, I bought a set of chargers from Costco, and was so proud of my Martha Stewarty table. But when we all sat down, everyone kept saying, “What’s that smell?” and “I smell gasoline.” After we figured out it was the chargers—which sure enough, had a “Made in China” sticker on the bottom—we discarded them immediately. The table was less pretty, but it sure was nice to smell stuffing and turkey rather than bug spray and petroleum. From then on, I’ve been able to detect that smell, whether it’s on a toy or even a pack of stickers or greeting cards."

    • How to get rid of chemical smell on small plastic toy figures made in china? 2009: "sold by sue rider charity shop, I was told they were tested for safety. The smell is very strong and affect the room in which they are kept."

    • Water Pik Pik Sm 451 Hand Held Shower Massage. Oct 21, 2009: "More stinky (toxic?) plastic from China. CONS Cheap Chinese plastic smells horrible and will stink up your room! Many plastic products made in China have a strong stink that at best smells like cat urine. I've read that this may be caused by a mould-release agent but whatever it is, God only knows how toxic it is, and I've noticed it only in plastics made in China. What I can't understand is how a reputable company like WaterPik accepts this for their products. Does no one at the company ever open one of their own packages? If you buy one of these shower heads, first wash it in warm soapy water and then let it sit and air outside for a month or so before bringing it into your home. (Mine is the chrome finish, not white -- don't know if this makes any difference)."

    • Decoration I bought Smells Horrible. 09-17-2008: I bought this Egyptian vase decoration for Fresh and saltwater fish. ... Anyways.... I'm not sure if it's the plastic or what it is but it stinks HORRIBLY bad. I have soaked it all day in extremely hot water , I sprayed it with vinegar nothing helps get rid of this smell. It's not a plastic or paint smell but it's like something chemical I dont' know what the smell is but it's not getting much better. The tag says made in China. GGGRRR which I never would have wasted my money if I had known that. What should I do now? It says it's aquarium safe but I am having my doubts. Should I just toss it? Will the smell affect the fish?

    • Keurig B60 — Tastes and smells like plastic? Sept. 7, 2008: "I received a B60 for Christmas and the water coming out tastes and smells like plastic."

      "I have the B70 Platinum brewer and yes, I too have the taste and smell of plastic! I have called Keurig and they are shipping me out a new reservoir and K-cup. They know about the issue and think the smell and taste is confined to the reservoir. ...Who knows if China plastic is great to drink!"

      "I am having the same problem as everyone else with my Platinum Keurig brewing system. I gave up on it after running it through multiple water cycles, and then water and vinegar cycles. ... I got a big whiff of the chemical smell just by taking it out of the box! Strange! Makes you wonder how healthy it is to drink coffee from this machine!"

      "Don't own a Keurig but can tell you ~ this plastic taste is in OTHER machines too. We've owned Mr. Coffees over the last year (3 pots), one other brand (?) from a Wegman's here, and now a Cooks from Penney's (it's the best so far but still has the smell). We kept repurchasing rinsing, washing, and you name it. It fills the air with its awful odor. We've tried rinsing but it never works. The smell is IN the plastic the water runs through and the filter. There is something seriously wrong here but we don't know who we should alert."

      "yes it is happenign to me too. i ahve washed the unit several times and ran gallons of water through it and it still tastes like a toxic blend of coffee and melted legos."

      "I am happy to come across this discussion, since at least I know we are not alone in our house with this issue and our new Keurig Model B77. My husband and I can both detect a bogus plastic-like smell and taste from the brew made with our machine. We have had other coffee makers in the past and have never had this issue."

    • Is this smelly plastic rain cover going to kill him? 9/11/09: "What with fall coming on, we just bought a rain cover for the baby's stroller. Stupidly, we just waltzed in to Buy Buy Baby and bought one. LORD, does it stink. It's clear plastic, made by Jeep. We've had it open with a fan pointed at it for DAYS and the smell will not go away. I can't help feeling like this is utterly, utterly toxic fumes we're smelling and to close my baby up under it would be terribly bad for him. I know it's making me feel slightly ill. What do I do?"

    • SOLO Expandable Messenger Bag. February 25, 2008: "It does have a strange odor though, and my wife, who doesn't particularly appreciate strange odors, told me to return it and spend a little more for something a bit better".

    • That toxic "made in China" smell. Aug-20-07: "What is the deal with the horrible smell that some items made in China emit? I bought an ottoman last year that had the most God-awful smell when you opened it up. The odor was really chemical in nature and very very strong. ... I recently bought a new bedroom set (also made in China because it's just about impossible to find any furniture that isn't made somewhere else these days) and it is really, really toxic smelling. The chest of drawers, in particular, is overwhelming when you open any of the drawers.

      I don't remember furniture smelling like that back in the not-so-distant past. It used to be that they smelled kind of good, kind of like WOOD! I started getting curious about what the heck they put in nowadays that makes them smell so bad. And I'm also worried that it might unhealthy to sleep in a room that is permeated with this toxic smell. And finally, I'm wondering if there is any way to get rid of the smell. I checked on the web and there was a lot of complaining about this issue, but no good ideas of how to deal with it--other than not buying furniture made in China, which I guarantee I will not do again."

    • Fisher-Price recalls toys worldwide. August 03, 2007: "I recently bought 2 items that looked good but when received the items delivered to my home, the 2 items smelled so bad. A strong rubber smell that will not go away even after weeks n months. The smell is disturbing. I know some ppl can say it is brand new n thus has a smell... but the smell is "distinct" and only certain types of rubber or plastic has that kind of smell."

      "What about those stickers (Barbie, Mickey, Marvel Comics etc) that are sold in pasar malams. They have very strong smell too. Are they safe? Come to think of it, I think a lot of children's stuff sold in pasar malams are Made in China."

    • Smelly plastic April 16, 2007: How do I get the smell out of the plastic cases i just bought? I bought a box of 100 slim DVD cases. They are black plastic with a clear sleeve on the outside. Here is the exact product [supermediastore.com] They smell terrible. Like they were locked up in a closet full of bad air. They must have been sitting in a factory for a really long time. I have tried washing one with soap and water, but the smell is still there. It is also a pain to dry out because of the clear plastic cover (water won't dry sandwiched between). How do I get rid of the smell? I've noticed the ones that have been used and are on my shelf arent as bad as the ones in the box, but they still smell.

    • Plastic goods from china smell bad? 2007: "i have been looking for a sink mat. it is a plastic sheet with cutouts to put in the bottom of your kitchen sink to make it a softer surface to help keep from breaking glasses, etc. i have found them in several stores, from the dollar store to bed, bath, and beyond, to lowes. they seem to be the same product (just different prices) and are produced in china. they smell bad. actually they stink. some plastics have a slight odor but these things have a very strong smell that doesn't go away. so, does anyone have any idea why this particular product smells so bad and is it harmful to people."

    • TOXIC AMERICA: SCENTED CANDLES, PLUG-INS, PERFUMES, AND OFFSHORE PLASTICS. February 19, 2007: "Another cousin of mine bought a new computer and when she opened the carton in which the printer was packed, before she even set it up, she got a massive headache, sore throat, and burning eyes as it exuded an odor straight from Hell. It smelled like Chinese, plastic death. She put it in the garage to outgas, unlike people, it never did. ...I bought some poker chips, made also in China; they smelled much like the printer, some of the chips, in fact, were the same colors as the printer. ...Six months later, they smelled like the offspring of the printer ...A bit later I bought a board game with plastic parts, five minutes after opening them, they were banished off to the garage. ...Ray bought a huge, plush, wood carved, leather, desk chair to impress clients and a girlfriend...We went over to look at it, actually, rather to smell it. It smelled like the latest toxic leather gloves one buys nowadays and stuffs into a plastic bag and throws in the tool shed-too expensive to throw away, to worn from scrubbing with saddle soap to get the odor out of, but never can, to return. ...Most of the thiings which were too toxic to contend with, were from China, some from Mexico and other offshore manufacturers. I had been writing Federal agencies for more than a decade insisting that many scented candles and plug-ins contained carcinogenic chemicals, as well as vaso-constrictors, (which narrow arteries) but only recently was that verified in an email from a NYTimes article."

      Earliest Reports Collected (origin of item not always specified):

      • Peavey Question. 09-20-2006: My Peavey dealer buddy was installing some Peavey equipment for me. When he unwrapped one of the pieces, he sniffed it and turned up his nose. I couldn't help but laugh... and I couldn't help but ask. He said, "I hate the smell of stuff made in China". Apparently, there was some measure of joy in sniffing the old American made stuff. The moral of the story: beware: the new Peavey pieces made in China smell weird. God bless America."

      • new suitcase..... weird smell!! 03-10-2006: "Off to the mall to buy new carry ons. I bought 2 and they are a recognizable brand and will fit the bill but when I took out the stuffings I noticed this chemical-ish smell. It's not 'overpowering' but it is noticeable and I'd rather not have my clothing smelling like this."

      • Getting plastic smell out of new luggage. February 21, 2006: "I bought a new suitcase recently, and when I got it home discovered that the interior (which is lined in some sort of plastic or vinyl) has a very strong plastic-y/chemical smell. I've tried leaving it open to air out, I've tried putting some dryer sheets inside and closing it, but nothing has helped abate the stank. I'm going on a trip on Thursday and don't want my clothes to reek of chemicals! Any ideas?"

      • Topic: Sportsmans Guide, Guide Gear 6-24x44 Scope. February 23, 2005: "It arrived today, Sportsmans Guide has always shipped my orders very quickly, and in oversize boxes with tons of packing. The ad for the scope is kind of vague concerning the manufacturer of the scope. The scope is in fact made by Barska, in China. I could tell right away it was made in China due to the smell once I opened the box, smells just like tools from Harbor Freight! ... The scope also comes with a 5" sun shade, as well as flip up scope covers. ... They do however, appear to be the source of the "Made in China scent" noticed when I opened up the box. I washed them in the sink under hot water, which helped a little, but they still stink. "

      The Feburary 23, 2005 report is key since it indicates that Harbor Freight products must already have been carrying malodorous products from China by 2004. The manufacturing processes that incorporate these chemicals must therefore have been established by then, and have simply grown in use.


    Reports from China on smelly plastic:

    [Google Translation of ‘smelly plastic” into Chinese] shows 7,510 hits, similar to the 11,300 hits in English (as of October 2011). This crude metric suggests that Chinese people are themselves concerned about this problem. Here are some samples, machine translated.

    • Plastic Deodorant: "Processing at the plastic, the polymer will often bring a lot of small molecule organic compounds. These small organic molecules will change the character of polymer, bring peculiar smell, even become a health risk. Plastic deodorant can decompose these small molecule, can eliminate the peculiar smell. Our plastic deodorant has good dispersion, googd absorption and reaction. It don't change the character of plastic. The most important is that our plastic deodorant is flavourless, but I can eliminate the peculiar smell completely. It can be used in PP, PE, PVC, ABS, PS and other plastics. Company: Guangzhou Lihold Chemical Co., Ltd."

    • Cheap Cheap Humidifier Did Not Guarantee Better Delivery Performance. 19.09.2010: "Deputy Secretary-General Director of China Society of the Golden Lion environment, said: “plastic taste is one of the bad smell of plastic products issued by popular it is called, really is not qualified plastic taste, and only when using a low-grade plastics raw materials, additives, etc. they say will produce plastic taste, the smell is one of the toxic and harmful substances evaporate the taste. ” "

    • How to deodorize plastic sandals. 2010-7-23: Buy a new plastic sandals, plastic taste is very pungent, washed with water, drying off, no effect.

    • How to deodorize plastic taste. 2010-4-13: I have a kitchen microwave cabinets are specifically placed in plastic containers. But the recent discovery that the cupboard stank smell, and throw all the plastic containers, is still a foul smell! No matter what is put into things, especially plastics, not a few hours will be infected with the smell, indelible.

    • Buy a new plastic smell stink AcBel ip470. April 1, 2010: Buy a new plastic smell stinks AcBel ip470 who answers the next. . Is this a new kind of power supply buy. Everything is normal, that is very foul smell that plastic can not stand God. ,,. Has nothing to do can be resolved."

    • Haier Washing Machine xqb50-s918 foul plastic taste is how is it? 2010-2-14: The work of the new Haier washing machine for ten minutes, the room to smell of plastic filled with great taste, just like burning plastic skin, as seen over the two said that washing machines sale no problem, that is, taste great point, do not know how the case . Washing machine has been used several times now, not the first time, taste is still very large. When the first taste with the largest TV drama throughout the home are filled with the pungent flavor. Advisory Service, said so like a month later, Haier is environmentally friendly materials used. How environmentally friendly materials will smell so much? Depressed, really is sorry, just replace the old machine will not be so small Swan ah. This is our trusted international brand?

      Dear Haier user: Hello, I'm sorry to inconvenience you use! New purchase, a plastic taste, it is normal, you can rest assured, if you can please leave your contact information, we will arrange a responsible officer to contact you.

    • A smell so that residents can not open the window. Yesterday a reporter went to Mr. Zhang Jinshan Garden District where residents told reporters that they had been an odor smoked more than six months. "From the summer home there is an odor similar to plastic." Zhang said, the balcony windows often are afraid to open. He was worried that the taste will definitely affect the body, especially children and pregnant women can cause harm. Nanjing, then press the EPA to reflect the problem. After understanding that the plant is a production of automotive exterior products business, he called Yanfeng Automotive Exterior Systems Europe Ltd, Nanjing Branch. ...The company is leasing the Nanjing Automobile Instrument Co., Ltd plant, raw materials for the plastic particles and coating raw materials, production facilities, mainly in injection molding production line and painting line. The process: After the injection molding of plastic particles by the dressing, then pretreatment coating, spray drying. More than two months before the survey in Nanjing Environmental Monitoring detachment discovered that injection molding and painting the company part of a drying process emissions.

    • Plastic cups plastic taste stinks, but also to use it? 2009-01-09: "I bought a cup, a very smelly plastic taste, I use heat blisters, but still so smelly. My mother told me not to use, I do not dare to use it, I'm afraid of poisonous, but I really like that cup, and now the cups are very smelly, unless you buy expensive, but the expensive ones may not be able to get good, and now the fake plenty. ... What are some good suggestions? further add that if I buy those expensive plastic cup, then it does not stink, I can heat the water go?

    • Response relationship: 2009-12-05: "How many old people still remember: Thirty years ago, the blue sky, clear rivers, wind and rice thousand waves, wind-swept pastures full of cows and sheep on the beautiful scene."

      "Today, around garbage dump, smelly plastic, Xiu Shui waste gas, gray days, pesticides and fertilizers do not give you food plus hormone Sudan Clenbuterol be good ancestors to eat rice, destroying their future food."

    • Spring to water purification please. 2008-11-11: "July 2008 I installed a spring to water purifiers, plastic smell out of the water has taste, for the one, There is the smell, now take it maintenance, ... and that out of the water from the water purifier has foul plastic taste And how to explain? Tap water is not such a bad smell. ... If this foul plastic taste of the water is harmful, then the responsibility of who should bear it? Milk with melamine eat stones, and that water is foul plastic taste will drink out of cancer? Can manufacturers in a responsible attitude to life to do a careful inspection, Give a reasonable interpretation?"

    • How to remove the pungent smell of plastic glasses and plastic taste? ? ? 2008-05-27: "I recently bought a sun glasses ~! Very nice ~! But I can not find time to smell the eyes ~! The taste of burning plastic is like ~! Very smelly ~! How to do? ? ? Who has a way to get rid of the smell to ~! (Do not buy a good report to send me!! Because I like the glasses) 'Evil' Ji drama."

    • Made a thorough investigation to establish the public to report odor bags. 2008-2-26: "Currently, Lanzhou some traders use plastic bags do not meet national health standards, plastic bags, the smell is foul, the quality is not good. Plastic products manufacturing expert advice that the original manufacturer of plastic bags in the production technology greatly reduced, in order to reap huge profits, a reduction in the disinfection of links minus, would have resulted in plastic bags, health is not up to direct contamination of the environment and human health.

      To this end, I suggest the Government departments from the market investigation, the six steps, find the production source, the total elimination of the products do not meet health standards. In strict accordance with product standards do not engage in the production of enterprises to be severely punished, such as revocation of business licenses, increased economic sanctions, causing serious consequences shall be investigated for criminal liability. Establish public reporting system by all means to prevent harm to people's health and pollute the environment smelly plastic bags. Circulation on the market has destroyed all smelly plastic bags, the dealer acts of deliberate indulgence distribution, be financial penalties."


      Chinese Companies responding to the problem of smelly plastic:

    • On the magnitude of the problems of toxic chemicals being faced by people in China: A waste plant, a dead baby and a fight for justice. Feb 2, 2011: "Rapid industrialisation has caused toxic materials to be dumped across the mainland, and The Southern Metropolis News has exposed cancer villages in at least Zhejiang , Jiangsu , Shandong and Anhui provinces and Tianjin municipality."

    • Linhai City Plastic Technology Co., Ltd. Hong Kang "Pvc suction supply, environmental protection, non-toxic, odorless plastic sucker [direct selling, the price is cheap!]"

    • china made plastic contact lens mate, happy girl heart shape contact lenses case CT328. "Specifications: 1) mini size with useful accessories 2) smooth shape and hygien,focus on detail 3) non-smell and high quality material".

    • Plastic Deodorant : "Processing at the plastic, the polymer will often bring a lot of small molecule organic compounds. These small organic molecules will change the character of polymer, bring peculiar smell,even become a health risk.Plastic deodorant can decompose these small molecule,can eliminate thepeculiar smell. Our plastic deodorant has good dispersion ,googd absorption and reaction.It don't change the character of plastic.The most important is that our plastic deodorant is flavourless,but i can eliminate the peculiar smell completely. It can be used in PP, PE, PVC, ABS, PS and other plastics."

    • China, Jiefang Xie, became popular in the United States. August 30, 2010: "However, Walters requested Jiefang Xie appropriate changes to remove plastic smell and so prohibiting the use of azo-dye materials, make it look very stylish. The strict requirements of the Americans, in a second" No" , finally, in 2007, Sirius's shoes to meet all his requirements. talk development of this trial period, Cui China is still" haunt" ," Just remove the plastic smell of the test a dozen times, the last use of the second curing technology to solve problems, and upper fabric selection to find the area in Jiangsu and Zhejiang 56 printing giant.""

    Chemical "A"

    Violin cases from China SOLO Expandable Messenger Bag.
    A sample I bought in 2004 at Office Max never had any odor. A sample from 2008 does.
    ‘Cindys Collection’ 3 Shower Caps
    Purchased at Long's Drugs, 2011
    Kala Ukulele bag, model "UB", 2011.
    Purchased from Manufacturer, 2011
    Realspace® Broward High-Back Bonded Leather Chair
    Purchased at Office Depot, 2011

    Chemical "B"

    TravelPro Walkabout Lite 3 model, made in China Living Accents desk lamp.
    The foam pad on the bottom of the base puts out the odor.
    Kala Ukulele bag, model "DUB-K", 2011. 42 Gallon Iron Hold Contractor Bag, 2013.

    Some Current Items Not Made In China, Not Smelly

    TravelPro Crew 7 line of luggage, made in Thailand JanSport SuperBreak 24" Wheeled Upright, made in Vietnam

    Some Current Items Made In China, But Not Smelly

    Samsonite, made in China, no odor


    Addendum: Plastic is not the only worry ...

    In researching this issue, I came across this report on leather sofas from China. 28th March 2009:
    "Thousands of Britons who were seriously burnt after sitting on 'toxic sofas' could be in line for compensation totalling £10million. Fifteen retailers including Argos, Homebase and Land of Leather are in the dock after admitting the cheap leather sofas from China were dangerous. Some 200,000 of them were sold, and it is thought tens of thousands of customers could make claims for ill-health and financial loss. ...

    The sofas caused fierce allergic reactions in people of all ages. A number required emergency hospital treatment for serious burns, while the symptoms may even have contributed to some deaths. The problem was caused by sachets of a chemical called dimethyl fumarate, an anti-mould agent put inside the sofas to stop them deteriorating during storage and transportation.

    DMF can be toxic in tiny amounts, causing serious blistering and bleeding of the skin. Some victims suffered eye problems while others had difficulty breathing. They are furious that retailers which sold thousands of suspect items failed to issue proper warnings and recalls after customers reported falling ill. For many months, the stores continued to sell the sofas and simply brushed away the concerns of customers. This meant hundreds were unable to identify the reason why they were so ill and continuing to get worse. . . .

    The chemical behind all the suffering, dimethyl fumarate, is a fungicide and considered so dangerous that those who have to work with it wear protective clothing. Yet Chinese furniture makers simply put it in sachets inside sofas. Presumably they believed that, because the powder was inside the sofa, no one would come to harm. But body heat from those sitting on the furniture made the DMF evaporate. The toxic vapour then seeped out and found its way to its victims."

    • Clothes from China. 1/11/2011: "I recently bought a couple pairs of 100% cotton flannel pajama pants that were made in China, and I have also noticed the horrific petroleum smell after washing out the horrific fragrance, If you have ever been around dirty automotive rags, that is basically what the smell is like. After washing several times, the smell isn't as strong, but is still there. I have decided I will never again buy any clothing labeled made in China. The way this smells, it has got to be toxic."

      08/09/2010: "I have been working for a company that has 90% of their clothing line made in China and the problems that come from it.  We've had so many shipments that the smell is so bad people have to air them out for a week before putting them in their store.  And they can never put them into plastic bins - because the odor is absorbed and then the bins become unusable.  I know that sometimes the problem is from them packaging our clothes into plastic bags before they completely dry after the dyeing process.  That is an odor that never seems to come out - no matter how many times the item is washed.  I love my job and the people I work with - but this is one area that I truly dislike.  Please don't  reveal my name - I like being employeed."

    • Not just plastic, either. 05-13-2010: "My daughter gave me a nice ($) robe for Christmas, made in China. Smelled too bad to wear, or even have in the house. Washed it numerous times, and tried airing it by hanging in the house. No go, still smelled bad." "I have noticed this smell on toys bought by the old lady at the dollar store for our daughter. I always throw them out."

    • What is "that smell" regarding handbags.... 8/20/2010: "Last week I ordered a couple of Brahmin bags - the smell was so strong, I called the company to ask about it....While getting them ready for the box, I handled them both. Within a minute or two, I had a metallic taste on the top of my tongue which has not gone away. Both bags were mad ein China."

      "Not only do the handbags smell but I bought a leather coat from the Q last year and it had that same horrible smell. I returned it for another one and it also had the same smell....that one went back also. They were made in China."

    • New Furniture Odor.

      • 11/28/07: "Our son was bequethed 5 huge pieces of beautiful bedroom furniture that was made in China. The set was only 2 years old. He has no room at his apartment for it, so we took it in and put it in two bedrooms until he has his house. I cannot tolerate the smell that is still exuding from the furniture. I keep the windows cracked open in those rooms, but still the smell is horrible. I am worried that it is toxic. Any thoughts please?"

        "I recently received several pieces of furniture (dresser, chest, etc...) from Raymour Flanigan's Build-a-Bear collection. The leadtime on this furniture was 8 weeks, due to the fact that it was manufactured in China. In any case, the toxic smell coming from this furniture is unbearable. My child has been forced to sleep in the guess room as a result. We have tried everything concoction under the sun to eliminate this odor. Nothing seems to work."

      • 02/11/08: "I also just bought a baby changing station from babys r us, and it reeks as well. Spent a long time assembling it, so I'm returning it assembled. Made in China, so God only knows what toxins its made of. Maybe a coincidence, but my noise starting bleeding after I finished putting it together."

        "i have bought & returned white children's shelves from target after weeks of "airing" them out. i have now had 3 pieces of white furniture from crate and barrel that still reeked after 6 weeks. they are picking them up. from china.they said several people have complained, but have no answers. the chemical smell caused headaches, sore throat, etc."

      • 06/10/08: "Black lacquered furniture from Crate and Barrel (flat-pack, put it together yourself, Made in China) bookcase/cabinet is making my child sick. Put it together Sunday evening in the living room and my four year old coughed all night."

      • 08/16/08: I purchased a 2 drawer file cabinet from JCPenny . It was delivered this past week. The inside of the drawers and the cabinet itself REEK. After spending hours on the phone with Penney's, I was told the item was made in China and that they uise different paint, sealers, what have you, than we do here."

        "I bought two 5 drawer dressers from Art Van that were made in China. (I didn't realize that when I purchased them.). Cost $500.00. They had an odor which I thought would go away. It's been 8 months. and is still bad. It gets worse when it is humid. The smell is definitly on the finish of the furniture."

        "I purchased a wood dresser from Capa Imports in High Point, N. C. several months ago. I too have a noxious odor coming from the drawers!!! I have tried to aire out the drawers and it seems to be better~~~ but as soon as the drawers are closed the odor returns!!! I know that the furniture was made in CHINA!!!! Is this chemical odor something that I should be worried about?"


    Addendum: And not just China ...

    The first item made outside of China that I have found with Chemical "A" is a Springer India book printed in 2007. The smell is faint, but it is the same scent as the items listed above under "Chemical A". The scent appears to be in the paper itself, as opposed to just the binding.

    • 10/04/09: "I have gotten that I will not purchase furniture made in china because they all stick so bad. I recently bought a chair from Ashley furniture because the tag said it was N. Carolina and sure enought when I got it, the box said made in Vietnam and it too that that awful stench that I can hardly stand. The question is, DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO GET RID OF THIS AWFUL SMELL."

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