Beware toxic plastic offgassing

Have you noticed that nauseating “perfume” smell coming from new trash bags and other plastic items like gardening ground cloth these days? You might think that it just smells bad, but it’s probably toxic as well. You might also think that it’s just a misguided marketing gimmick, but it may actually fulfill a purpose. Think big.

Reproductive sterility and other symptoms of endocrine disruption are already epidemic in this country, and this is certainly one of the reasons for it. Draw your own conclusions.

Is that Smelly Plastic from China Toxic?

Ever wonder why some plastic goods made in China have that awful smell? This is especially the case with many rubberized plastics.

Research and testing is increasingly illustrating that these materials may not just smell bad. They may also be outgassing potent toxins and carcinogens.

In this article:

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.

2019-1-26, 1:36 AM HST: We have a bigger problem now: In the past 10 years drug makers have moved most of our prescription drug manufacture to China, and millions of doses have carcinogenic contaminants. FDA warns about blood pressure medication shortages amid recalls. Dozens of batches of widely prescribed heart drugs may be may be contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical.

“The contaminated drugs were traced to factories in China that make valsartan ingredients and ship them to generic drug companies throughout the world. … ‘The companies knew it had a problem, but didn’t fix it over the course of six years,’ said Rosemary Gibson, a health care expert at the Hastings Center and author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine.”

[….. horror stories about toxic smells that can’t be contained and never leave …..]

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.


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

    Forward the link to this page, , 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, , 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.

Responses to this Web Site:


August 23, 2019

I saw your website on plastic from China, and thought I’d share one more item/story for your long list.People who have purchased a Bosch dishwasher over the past year are complaining of the smell. Many are saying it smelled from day one. Nobody knows what the smell is. I found their forum because I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do about the Bosch dishwasher I bought five months ago. It has smelled since the day it was installed. At first I thought the smell would go away after a few days, but it’s still there. Today it occurred to me that the smell is like plastic. And then I found this forum where many people who bought a Bosch dishwasher are complaining of the same thing, although none of them have thought it might be the plastic materials inside the dishwasher. I’m trying to figure out if there’s anything I can do about it, but I don’t think there’s anything easy. Some people on the forum mentioned getting together a class action lawsuit, but I have no idea how to even communicate with all the people on there, and I don’t know about lawsuits.

There’s probably nothing I can do about the immediate situation, but I saw your website and thought I’d contribute one more bit. Here is the URL for the forum on the Bosch dishwashers:  …. etc etc

I was finally motivated enough to post about this worsening problem when I became nauseated after dealing with a “Husky” brand trash bag.   I was outdoors, standing upwind, trying to hold my breath and I washed my hands afterward, but I still feel yucky an hour later.

I suppose we should be grateful that we can detect some of these chemicals with our noses, but the odorless ones are probably just as toxic.   In fact “room freshening” products actually contain olfactory nerve numbing agents to dull your sense of smell.  That’s how they work.   Who cares if they cause cancer or sterility.  We’re all guinea pigs.   Of course kids are especially vulnerable.

Check out the reviews of these “Glad” trashbags on amazon.  A new kind of chemical warfare:

Whatever happened to hemp-based polymers?    Oh yeah, people are probably still thrown in jail for such heresy.   Much better to be sick all the time and feed the medical combine.   Ask your doktor.

Why your toilet paper is trying to kill you

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