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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Will The Plastic Burning Smell Be Hazardous To Health?

Hi, I have a computer and recently a power supply started to overheat and it emitted a burning plastic smell, will that be hazardous to my health? I replaced the power supply but it still has a slight smell and I'm not sure if I've just gotten used to the smell and stopped recognizing it.
Wed, 16 Sep 2015
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General & Family Physician 's  Response
Hi,
Thanks for posting in HCM.
I am sorry to hear of your mishap. There is no cause for alarm, and that you have taken care of most issues.
When polypropylene (plastic) melts, depending on the particular material, it may release plasticizers, stabilizers, and biocides. Most of these materials will have a very low vapor pressure, and hence will probably form aerosols.
They can form a large number of organic compounds (oxidation and/or decomposition products). These will include some formaldehyde, an eye and respiratory irritant, as well as related compounds. If they are inhaled for a short duration, it would not affect in the long run.
Hope the information provided is clear.
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Will The Plastic Burning Smell Be Hazardous To Health?

Hi, Thanks for posting in HCM. I am sorry to hear of your mishap. There is no cause for alarm, and that you have taken care of most issues. When polypropylene (plastic) melts, depending on the particular material, it may release plasticizers, stabilizers, and biocides. Most of these materials will have a very low vapor pressure, and hence will probably form aerosols. They can form a large number of organic compounds (oxidation and/or decomposition products). These will include some formaldehyde, an eye and respiratory irritant, as well as related compounds. If they are inhaled for a short duration, it would not affect in the long run. Hope the information provided is clear.