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Community and Q&A

Suggestions for non toxic dishwasher and range?

Carole Wiles | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

moved into a house with new appliances last november.. the maytag range emits noxious fumes when over 400 degrees…have to open all the windows and exhaust fan on….is there some sort of formaldehyde or high vocs they use for insulation of the range walls, or a finish material…headaches and nausea even after all this time…should we just get an older model used range? did they manufacture those using toxic products as well?

also, the new lg dishwasher….we don’t use it a lot, as it also emits noxious fumes, and i can smell those fumes on the “clean”? dishes….i know the racks are all plastic, and plastic is poison when heated so….why don’t other dishwashers smell like this, and just because they don’t, does it make them any safer to use?
help mr/ms wizard!!!

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Replies

  1. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Carole,
    I have never heard of a new dishwasher or a new range causing health problems for occupants.

    People have a wide range of sensitivity to odors. It is possible that you are more sensitive to odors than most people. I doubt that the odors are truly toxic; however, if the odors irritate you, they are certainly undesirable.

    It's possible that your oven will stop smelling after it is used for a few days or weeks. There may be residual substances that are being volatilized (evaporated) by the heat. These may eventually bake off, reducing or eliminating the odor.

    In any case, use your range hood fan when operating these appliances. (I hope that your kitchen has a range hood fan that is ducted to the outdoors.) This will reduce the chance that odors enter your house.

    Public health studies show that the majority of the world's population does suffer negative health effects in the kitchen during cooking. However, the culprit is not offgassing of industrial chemicals from Maytag ranges. The culprit is wood smoke. If you eliminate wood smoke from your kitchen, as almost all Americans have, you have eliminated the number one health problem associated with cooking.

  2. Carole Wiles | | #2

    No wood smoke here Martin, thank you for your time....i am quite curious why you would doubt that the smells are "truly toxic". we know they use formaldehyde on so many building materials, and we know that plastic is toxic, when heated, and so many dishwasher parts are plastic. you are correct, i have a very sensitive nose....but it is usually only sensitive to toxic elements.....bug repellents in perfumes, febreeze, glade, the toxics in laundry detergents and dryer sheets....etc...so i guess a more specific question is, what does maytag use to insulate the range, and what finish materials are used? and are these materials more or less toxic that what was used say a decade ago? as we have lived in the house for a year now, and used the range a number of times, it isn't going away, and this stuff is nasty. if it is giving my husband and i headaches and nausea, it's probably toxic, would be my guess...if it wasn't toxic, we would not be getting ill would we? i highly doubt if most of the world's population has a new gas range....i don't want to minimize the toxins by comparing them to something that might be worse...i want to know how to get a stove and appliances that are not manufactured using materials that are toxic to humans.....i may be a canary in a coal mine....but, just because it's normal, and other people take it for granted, doesn't mean it isn't hurting us....

  3. Charlie Sullivan | | #3

    "If it is giving [us] headaches and nausea, it's probably toxic."

    I agree. And I also doubt that the manufacturers really know what is being emitted or how toxic it is. So even if we can't give you useful advice, there's no basis to dismiss your concerns as unfounded.

    I was going to suggest baking at the highest temperature for several hours, with the exhaust fan on, and perhaps while you are out of range of the vapors (but within earshot of the smoke alarm), in the hopes that everything that was going to come out would come out then, and that you'd then be able to bake at lower temperatures without anything coming out, but perhaps you feel like you have already given it that chance.

    Although there are many disadvantages to the way houses are built, with every material choice being made on a building-by-building basis, that does have the advantage that you can find out what is being used and specify less toxic products. Appliances are a very different scenario, so it's much harder to find out what is in them. And there's also the problem that there are lots of people that contribute here who know a lot about building science and building practice. But there aren't many appliance engineers here.

    I'm pretty sensitive to smells too, and haven't had any problems with my ~10 year old Kenmore range/oven for whatever that is worth.

    It's possible that the cabinets are part of the problem, if the parts of them near the range get hot.

    Is the dishwasher a problem even if you don't use heated drying? Heated drying in a dishwasher is an energy hog anyway so it's good to avoid.

    I wish I had more suggestions for you, but I don't know what else to suggest. Maybe a store or brand with a good satisfaction guarantee, and simply try some different models. Or look for 5-10 year old models that might have different materials.

  4. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Carole,
    "Toxic" has a medical definition, and I have no idea whether the smells emitted by your appliances are toxic. Whether or not they are toxic, these fumes are clearly irritating to you and your husband.

    Charlie's advice is good, and it parallels mine. I wrote, "There may be residual substances that are being volatilized (evaporated) by the heat. These may eventually bake off, reducing or eliminating the odor. In any case, use your range hood fan when operating these appliances." In other words, there are two things that may help: (a) time, and (b) ventilation.

    If these appliances irritate you so much that you don't want to follow this advice, of course you can remove the appliances and try to sell them or donate them to a charity. If you replace them with used appliances, there is a better chance that volatile substances have already evaporated.

  5. Charlie Sullivan | | #5

    You are not the only one with this problem. There's discussion on other web sites. One commenter says:

    "My research into this reveals that fiberglass manufacturers (the insulation surrounding the oven exterior) migrated from a formaldehyde binding agent to an acrylic which is not as heat tolerant and outgasses."

    That's from:
    http://www.debralynndadd.com/q-a/new-general-electric-stove-is-toxic/

    The fact that someone on the internet said it doesn't make it true, but that story is consistent with other things we've heard about unintended consequences of eliminating formaldehyde from fiberglass insulation in other applications.

    I haven't tried to follow any of the links or leads on that page, but you might want to.

  6. Brian P | | #6

    I remember our new range had the instructions, wrapping, cleaning bottle, and other accessories placed in the oven. It also had some type of stretchy plastic wrap protecting some exterior surfaces.

    Have you checked to make sure no "foreign" objects or material have been left in it? Has all protective tape or surface wrap been removed?

  7. Carole Wiles | | #7

    thanks so much you guys!
    from Martin's response to my first question "In other words, there are two things that may help: (a) time, and (b) ventilation.
    If these appliances irritate you so much that you don't want to follow this advice." oh Martin, actually, i have exactly followed that advice....i worded my situation thusly: "moved into a house with new appliances last november.. the maytag range emits noxious fumes when over 400 degrees...have to open all the windows and exhaust fan on". in the hopes of letting folks know it had been close to a year in time, and not only the exhaust fan but also windows, and even the backdoor open in cold cold january and february. as well as the rest of this last year...no luck yet...
    from what Charlie says about his old kenmore, that is what i was trying to get to the heart of.i had a magic chef from it's inception in 1995 till a couple of years ago...i hated that stove, but it didn't stink or scare me...and thanks also Brian, no foreign objects or material, and it's not the cabinets next to the stove....so yes, i hate to pass on the problem to someone else, but if i let them know what's up....and go for an older model, i just don't know if those are worse or better, but like you say Charlie, the vocs have likely been eliminated by now....also, thanks for the links to the other forums. AS far as the dishwasher goes, i don't use the heated drying option....it just happens from the hot water i guess....again...i could probably run it with the heated dryer over and over and get out of the house, turning on fans and opening windows etc....and maybe just trigger the bake off of whatever gnarly stuff(i'd rather use a different word,but fairly new to blogs like this and don't want to swear) they use now.
    and yes, i was hoping there might be appliance people with your advisory staff.
    in ending, hate to be too skeptical, but i think the manufacturers know exactly what's being emitted and the effects that are distinct health hazards.
    thank you all again....i will be looking for that old kenmore that has our name on it...and probably an old dishwasher as well.....anybody you know want these gorgeous fake stainless steel monsters?

  8. J S | | #8

    Carole I hear exactly what you are going through! Due to moving a lot we never had to buy new appliances until very recently and it did not occur to me that my chemical sensitivities would be so overwhelmed with new kitchen appliances. But it has been a heck of a 6 month road! Regarding dishwashers... I first got a beautiful and expensive stainless steel Bosch. AWFUL smell, headaches, sore throat, etc every time we used it for first couple of weeks with all windows always open. After sniffing inside of every dishwasher on the sales floor, I exchanged it for a lovely and just as pricey LG. AWFUL smell and same experience, so I started doing more research. As it turns out, ALL dishwashers that have a stainless steel interior (which I thought would be better!) are coated on the outside with a soundproofing material called bitumen. Also known as black tar-- like what they coat our roads with! Also known as a possible human carcinogen that emits fumes when heated, often for months, or years! And what is a dishwasher doing? Heating it every single time. Yes the fumes will lessen with time but with what effect on our health??? And worse, everyone seems so concerned with having the quietest dishwasher on the planet so you cannot find a single dishwasher in America with a stainless interior that does not have a bitumen/tar coating on the outside! I even tried looking at used ones and unless you buy a really old one, I personally still noticed a tar-ish smell when I would sniff the black stuff up close. Consequently, I decided to try out the dreaded plastic interior dishwasher thinking it would be the lesser of two evils. (I chose the whirlpool gold in case you were wondering). Well I am so happy to report that although it definitely had a "new materials smell" the first 3-4 uses, it now has pretty much zero odor and I have had zero reactions to it. So for me, plastic has actually won out over stainless. Hopefully someday enough complaints will encourage the bigger companies to start offering true "green" alternatives.

  9. Carole Wiles | | #9

    Wow thanks JS! sounds like you have done the "road" work...what a thing to discover! and yes, we know plastic is toxic when heated, but trying to approach the plastics industry is like the tobacco industry used to be....but bitumen! i took note, whirlpool gold.....how did you do with a range?
    best to you!

  10. SoarAsEagle | | #10

    I bought a new Bosch dishwasher. It releases odor when I turn on it. I called Bosch and an engineer came. He told me it's the coating (bitumen) and will fade after 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, the odor lowered but still unbearable in kitchen with all doors, windows, fans open. I emailed Bosch. Someone of Bosch called me and assured me that there is no bitumen in the coating and the odor will fade after 8 weeks or more. It's been 2 months. Bosch didn't let me return it but sent me a stainless steel deodorant to be used inside the dishwasher. Doctor said women with high-density breast has high risk of breast cancer. I don't know what to do yet. Thank you for your post, which is precious to me after 2 months searching and worrying.

  11. Charlie Sullivan | | #11

    Sorry to hear that this is still a problem. Kind of annoying that they say it's not bitumen, but won't tell you what it is.

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