How to rid harsh odor coming from synthetic materials.
August 15, 2005 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Some rubber-like materials in clothing accessories are emitting strong solvent-like odors. What is it, how can I get rid of it?

I recently bought a pair of Smith "Syndicate" sunglasses, but the case it comes with reeks with this really strong smell that is reminicent of turpentine, paint, or some other solvent. I stopped using the case right away. I noticed the same smell coming out of this cheap vinyl-like belt I had as part of an eBay deal (I threw out the belt). Now I notice that the rubberized nose piece of the sunglasses has the same smell and it really irritates me, since it's so close to my smeller. What is going on here, and how do I get rid of it?
posted by Extopalopaketle to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
This document details vinyl acetate safety and its "halflife" for dispersal.
posted by Rothko at 3:09 PM on August 15, 2005

Best answer: The short answer is, "Wait a while."

Most plastics, with the exception of some medical and industrial products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which help to keep the plastic supple enough for its intended application. During the manufacturing process, to aid with demolding, more of these compounds are present in the plastic that are required for the desired application. The volatiles evaporate out of the plastic over time. This is what makes that "new car smell," and the loss of these VOC's over time explains why your PVC lawn furniture eventually shatters.

The rate at which these compounds escape from the surface of the plastic falls off over time in an inverse-square relationship. Ideally, leaving a new plastic item in a warm, well-ventilated area should allow the VOCs to evaporate out of the surface of the item in a few days.

Unfortunately, some plastics I remember from my childhood _never_ seemed to get rid of their smell (most notably, anything made from latex rubber, like hallowe'en masks).

I have noticed that new silicon nose-pieces on my glasses tend to have an odour for a few days, but it does get below my detection threshold in very little time.
posted by Crosius at 3:22 PM on August 15, 2005

I wondered what that was...a toy we bought our cat smelled strongly of it for quite a while (longer than the week outlined in Rothko's link). It was kind of icky, so we never gave it to the cat and got rid of it.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:09 PM on August 15, 2005

I remember getting a Toucan Sam watch out of a box of Rice Crispies that stunk for months... I don't know why anyone would want that in a box of food!

Crosius, isn't it half life based, which would make it an exponential decay (Rothco's link suggests this too)? I'm sure there are lots of things that make this a complicated problem, but a few more details would be great.
posted by Chuckles at 5:22 PM on August 15, 2005

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