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Hardware That Literally Doesn't Stink? 683

gtaylor writes "You know that new computer smell? Some people (like me) get sick from it. Can Slashdot readers provide good suggestions for mice or keyboards made from ceramic, unlacquered hardwood, metal, etc, non-plastic headphones and microphones, screens like the new metal-framed cinema display from Apple, etc? (Wood is not necessarily right if it's glued or varnished.) I have a Sharp Plasmacluster air purifier that is very helpful but the fewer volatile organic chemicals released in the first place, the better. I'll also need a chair (leaning to the Herman Miller Mirra chair) and an adjustable metal/hardwood desk. High-density hard synthetics like polypropylene (a popular material at Ikea) or acrylic are also inert enough to be fine if they have no plasticizers - suggestions for a full office set-up welcome."
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Hardware That Literally Doesn't Stink?

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  • by Davak ( 526912 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:19PM (#10007939) Homepage
    As a practicing pulmonary doctor, I see patients that claim a wide variety of environmental sensitivies. My one patient was an engineer who thought her computer "was releasing chemicals that were killing her" did the following.

    She placed her computer case in a plastic storage bin and placed it in the crawl space under her bedroom. She then bought extension cables for everything and ran the cables up into her living space. I wish I had the pictures she brought in... but her setup included a desk mounted power switch as well.

    Once she moved her computer out of her bedroom she decided that her light bulbs were releasing harmful chemicals. It was obviously her light bulbs because she had moved basically everything else out of her bedroom.

    Of course, she slept with her cat... but her cat couldn't be causing her allergies. Of course not.

    Gesh... just another day at the office.

    • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alejo ( 69447 )

      Even ignoring that... i would go get some nasal filters or similar solution if need to, or get some air filtering system for home. Change the world around you vs. change yourself.

    • by tarquin_fim_bim ( 649994 ) * on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:25PM (#10008003)
      but her cat couldn't be causing her allergies

      No, her cat told her about the computer.
    • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:5, Informative)

      by BoldAC ( 735721 ) * on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:28PM (#10008035)
      I am a practicing allergist and I have found that most people with multiple environmental allergies are just a little mental. Sorry, there is no other way of saying it.

      I am NOT suggesting that all people are like that... just most. So I hope the person who submitted the question doesn't get offended.

      As an allergy doc, let me suggest something before you kill yourself with this stuff. Just go see an allergic specialist in your area. We can skin test for almost every known allergic substance to man. Plus, as the medline article that you referenced (which says nothing about computer/electronic smells) suggests, you may have asthma if these smells are making your feel poorly.

      Reading from your website [] it appears that you may believe you have chronic fatigue syndrome as well. Is there some connection between multiple environmental sensitivies and chronic fatigue? It would be odd for you to have two rare diseases.
      • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:52PM (#10008228)
        ... he just needs to tell them not to use the new computer smell spray [].
      • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 )

        I am a practicing allergist and I have found that most people with multiple environmental allergies are just a little mental.

        Assuming that's true, and that by "mental" you mean having mental health difficulties, it could suggest:

        • a psychogenic origin for the complaints; or
        • stress from environmental allergies is causing mental health problems (I know my pollen allergies can leave me cranky when the count is high); or
        • the environmental sensitivities are affecting the nervous system, causing mental healt
        • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @09:49PM (#10008584)
          Assuming that's true, and that by "mental" you mean having mental health difficulties,

          Well stop assuming. You've obviously never met anyone like this. I know several, and I'll second BoldAC's opinion.

          No one is claiming that there's some serious, or even identifiable, mental health issue in these people. But they do tend to be more than a little high-strung.

          Actually, there are many other, better and more precise ways, of putting it; ways I would expect a health care professional to use.

          You would only cite the DSM if you were making a proper diagnosis. BoldAC isn't doing that. He has merely made an observation as to a certain personality type. Surely he's as free to do that as anyone else. MDs are allowed to be human beings too, you know.

          In any event, allergists to not diagnose psychiatric conditions any more than an psychiatrist ought to be diagnosing allergies.

      • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Salamander ( 33735 ) <> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @09:38PM (#10008518) Homepage Journal
        Is there some connection between multiple environmental sensitivies and chronic fatigue? It would be odd for you to have two rare diseases.

        Actually it's a pretty well studied connection [].

      • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @09:54PM (#10008617)
        Chronic fatigue syndrome is a very rare disease.

        When I was in my senior year of high school, I one day woke up with a massive headache. That headache lasted 8 months. I kid you not, it never ever went away. Luckily it seemed to decrease throughout the day, so I did manage to get some sleep. I became almost insomniatic (sp?), usually falling asleep at 4 in the morning and waking up around 12:00 noon (but always waking up dizzy).

        I had to become home schooled even though all the school counselors thought I was making it up (despite the fact that I was going to be valedictorian). I got the headache midway thru October and it wasn't until the end of December that the doctor finally figured out what I had (Cytomegalo virus & Chronic fatigue syndrome). He gave me an anti-bacterial and said I would just have to wait until the virus naturally went away.

        I then became mildy depressed and lost all interest in life. I felt absolutely horrible and had no enjoyment in my life what so ever. After I found out I would not become valedictorian (around the end of May) because I was not 'putting in enough effort', I became so spiteful of life that I broke down.

        I felt I had been wronged for no reason, as if God himself had punished me.

        It was then I took action. I had read that some people with the same conditions as me could sleep better with white noise. I went to my garage and pulled out an old television set (the kind that don't automatically blue screen on loss of signal) and set the volume to high.

        I did this for a week for about 12-14 hours a day until I cringed at the sound. My headache finally subsided to a small trivial pain and then finally went away.

        To make a long story short, I then went to the prom with a great girl that I first met when I picked her up for the prom and graduated a week later. One week after graduation I found out I was top of my class. Turns out my biology teacher purposely delayed grading my work because I had not personally attended his class...

        Anyways, sometimes you just have to draw the line and put up with life. If you really have a problem with new computer smells then I hope you find comfort somehow, but chances are it's a just 'mental thing'. Please, for your own sake, try to get over it. Then just take what life gives you and try to make the best of it.
        • That's it, today I'm going to tell my teacher how I really feel about her!

          I'm going over to her house right now, and I'll bang down the door and shoot her husband if I have to!

      • full-on... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @10:24PM (#10008792) Homepage Journal

        I used to hang out with a couple of these guys. Total hypocondriacs. Sometimes I think it's also a power trip. Like these people feel powerless over their own lives, so they attempt to exert some kind of influence over others to placate their special needs.

        I have some distant relatives who claim environmental sensitivities. I had to stay at their house for a wedding. They went nuts because my girlfriend ignored their pleas and she used her own shampoo. We solved their problem by just never visiting them again.

        Seriously. When these people get in your face trying to lay a guilt trip, they're trying to control you. Ignore them.
        • Re:full-on... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:15AM (#10009498) Homepage
          I know someone who is allergic to just about every type of food. The list of bad foods includes all nuts, and fruits in which the seeds touch the 'flesh' if the fruit - like strawberries, watermelons, and banannas. (Fruits where the seeds are contained within by a thick hull or core are okay), Several beans are also bad, including Cocao, so chocolate is out. And on top of all that, he's lactose intolerant. And no, it's not a power trip, nor a case of hypochondria. Unless, that is, you believe he is so good at unconsiously controlling his body that he can cause his windpipe to swell and cut off his breathing, requiring a speeding trip to the hospital (in which adrenneline was used to kill the swelling (not sure how that works) so he could breathe again, and then the emergency room doctor advised him to never again go out and eat in public restaurants, and only eat food he'd cooked himself so he knows every ingredient that goes into it.)

          I've seen it happen. It's really not pretty.

          The problem is that the existence of people like this (real deadly multiple-allergy sufferers) gives ammunition to the whiny hypochondriacs. Because some people like that exist, Hypochondriacs think they might be one of them.

          Given how allergies work, it makes perfect sense why someone with one allergy tends to have other ones too. An allergy is caused by your immune system having corrupt data on its threat-identification lookup table, so to speak, so it ends up labelling things as major threats when they really aren't. If the identification is badly off enough, it can even raise the threat level of the "intruder" to the point where the immune system "thinks" it's a deadly poison, and so it "thinks" it is authorized to react with everything it's got, even measures which could themselves kill you. And the thing is, this "lookup table" is something that gets edited over the course of your life. Your immune system starts with genetic presets from your parents, but then learns as it goes. If something makes you sick, your immune system learns to fight that something in the future. The nasty thing about some allergies is that they snowball. The allergy itself makes you feel sick, and so the immune system raises the threat rating of that substance and fights harder against it next time, making you even more sick, so it raises the threat rating even more, and starts getting really overzealous about anything that even looks remotely like the allergen - so what starts as an allergy to just walnuts ends up becoming an allergy to all nuts - anything which has a similar enough recognizable chemical pattern in it gets flagged as a problem.

          Essentially, the immune system has a cascading snowballing effect that makes it so that more exposure to the allergen makes the allergy worse in the future. So that's why there do exist some people who really *are* that allergic to things - if their immune system is confused to begin with, it tends to cause itself to get even more confused.

          • Re:full-on... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BluBrick ( 1924 ) <> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:51AM (#10009638) Homepage
            It's such a shame I have no mod points today. I think you really hit the nail on the head with this sentiment:
            The problem is that the existence of people like this (real deadly multiple-allergy sufferers) gives ammunition to the whiny hypochondriacs. Because some people like that exist, Hypochondriacs think they might be one of them.
            Note, however, that the hypochondriac never suffers from such seriously life-threatening allergic reactions, but frequently from somewhat mild, and often unprovable complaints - headaches, nausea, and itchiness being quite common. Unfortunately, the existence of such symptoms can also not be disproven, a fact on which the hypochondriac relies (consciously or otherwise).
    • by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:29PM (#10008042) Journal

      What scares me more is that she's an engineer... One would assume "Common Sense" would be pretty much standard with engineers... :(

      • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <.kaboom108. .at.> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @09:43PM (#10008548)
        Engineers with common sense? As an engineering student, trust me when I say you have no idea how wrong you are.
        • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by randyest ( 589159 )
          You're exactly right. As an engineering student I noticed the same thing (lack of common sense in many other engineering students.)

          But, in the 7ish years since I graduated and started wotking, I have noticed that the percentage of practicing engineers lacking common sense is much lower. Not zero (or even close) but much, much lower than engineering students.

          I'd even go so far as to say that even those very-highly-intelligent engineering students that happen to lack common sense do not do well in the
          • by big tex ( 15917 ) <> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @11:56PM (#10009198)
            I have noticed that the percentage of practicing engineers lacking common sense is much lower.

            You must not be a Civil.

            We still have all of our common-sense lacking engineers, they are all structural designers.
            As a construction engineer, one of the most common and most painful conversations begins with "So, how in the hell did you plan on us getting that big ass piece way up there? We're fresh out of the Magic-Fucking-Flying-Shoring (patent pending)."
            Unfortunately, quite a few seem to think that gravity isn't a factor until construction is done.
            • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by randyest ( 589159 ) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:26AM (#10009542) Homepage
              Right; electrical (ASIC design.)

              Oh, I see. Sorry about that ;)

              Why don't I see many falling bridges then (Tacoma Narrows and such remarkable but isolated examples aside?) (that's 0 personally.)

              I see lots of bad semiconductor designs (both processes and individual devices.) It's hard to make a chip, but in the process from specification or idea to crystallized sand wafers, a lot of smart people with common sense (i.e., they know when close enough is good enough) work on it. Each specializes on rather small parts of the design (more or fewer depending on design size and designer talent breadth, as I assume it is with bridges and roads.) So it gets done, but it fails a lot. And we re-make them (at huge cost -- lower than bridges, of course, but in the millions each.)

              Bridges rarely fall. Is it because civil engineers are that good, or the building standards are perfectly tuned in the balance of cost/safety? Or material science is so advanced that it's "cheap" to build an unbreakable bridge?

              Or it is because of a lack of competition?

              That is, since usually only governments can afford bridges, and since the spending of government is controlled by politicians, and since more than zero percent of politicians corruptly and unfairly award contracts to their friends/benefactors (they even occasionally get caught,) then succeeding at CivE allows for a larger margin in price (cost of implementation) than semiconductors because you can charge more when your comany knows it will get the job? I'm not saying that's the case -- I'm asking.

              I think you can see this isn't a troll or attempt to bait flames -- I'm really curious.
              • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:3, Informative)

                by joggle ( 594025 )
                Why don't I see many falling bridges then

                The short answer:

                1. We've been building bridges for a long time. Each succesive bridge that is built is very similar to another bridge that has been built before, making it significantly easier to build new bridges.
                2. Bridges are essentially static whereas chips operate in a dynamic environment. This makes bridges easier to model accurately (although dynamic similation is much harder of course). Since bridges aren't performance driven like chips, they rarely push the e
              • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:3, Interesting)

                by big tex ( 15917 )
                Why don't I see many falling bridges then (Tacoma Narrows and such remarkable but isolated examples aside?)

                Tacoma is a great example. You can boil the failure down to one simple premise: Moisseiff did something radical and untested. That is, he dropped the tried and true stiffening truss (the technical name for the big deep truss that suspension bridges use for supporting the deck) and used new-fangled plate girders made possible by new welding technologies, among other things.

                We also only get one shot.
    • Re:Oh, patients... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mikael ( 484 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @09:27PM (#10008454)
      Of course, she slept with her cat... but her cat couldn't be causing her allergies. Of course not.

      Perhaps it wasn't the cat, but the "instant meals" that the cat brought it and hid somewhere in the crawlspace or bedroom.

      My parents started having this rather awful smell in their bedroom. Since the door is always kept closed (to keep the cats out), and everything is kept spotless, dusted and washed every other day, we knew it couldn't be the furniture or decorations. After a couple of days, when the smell became rather strong, we found a partially eaten dead mouse, hidden behind the wardrobe. Our cat had sneaked in, when the door had been pushed open by a strong gust of wind.

      Now, we keep a look out for any "surprises". Usually this is given away, when he shoots through the cat-flap, backs himself under the table and starts making growling noises. Then someone has to negotiate the hostage release.
    • I can testify it. I am sleeping with my cat and I have no allergy at all. The conclusion is obvious, cats are not responsible for humans sratching themselves. However, my cat is often scratching a itch...

    • by Halo- ( 175936 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @10:55PM (#10008948)
      I'm not a doctor. I can barely spell doctor. But, I do know this from personal experience:

      It is definitely possible to make yourself physically sick if you are mentally convinced you are sick.

      I spent years fighting near constant bouts of nausea. Saw a slew of specialists, had scans, tests, X-rays, pokes, prods, and pills. Nothing helped. After a few years I began to realize it was the situtations I was in that seemed to induce my nausea... gee could it be mental?

      Short story: yes. I had(have?) "Social Phobia" before it was the cool thing (like ADHD that every third kid has). The damnest thing is that once I knew what was wrong, and was positive my feeling sick was purely in my head, I discovered it was still impossible to not feel "sick" sometimes. It's just like being scared of flying. You can be on a plane and rationally know that you are safer than in your car, but still be terrified at the same time.

      My feeling is that a lot of these MCS people just freak out when they smell something "odd". I doubt there is a single treatment to snap these people out of their loop. Therarpy did nothing for my problem, but the slightest taste of an SSRI drug fixed me like flipping a switch. For other people, drugs just make them feel nasty, and talking things out helps.

      The point is, I think there is something wrong with people who "have" MCS, and it can be serious, but no amount of avoid the "bad chemicals" is going to help them.

      Take two, call me in the morning. Don't sue. No for use with certain sets, your mileage may vary...

  • by Kjuib ( 584451 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:20PM (#10007948) Homepage Journal
    send me your new goods, and I will send them back after I wear the new smell off... Sounds like a plan to me!
  • Sorry I cant help (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrP- ( 45616 ) * <jessica AT supjessica DOT com> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:20PM (#10007959)
    Sorry I cant help.. but i cant imagine computer hardware that doesn't smell.. theres nothing quite like the smell of a fresh motherboard... mmmmm its like gasoline.. smells so good!
  • Ahem (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:22PM (#10007969)
    I think with the majority of Slashdotters, the hardware which suffers most from stink problems lies between the keyboard and chair...

  • keyboards (Score:5, Funny)

    by funkdancer ( 582069 ) <funky @ f u n k d> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:23PM (#10007975)
    dunno about plastics etc but if you ever tried popping off a key or two in one of your few-year-old keyboards - particularly if you regularly eat at your computer desk, well chances are you've located a primary source of smell just there.
    • Re:keyboards (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tlosk ( 761023 )
      I figure keyboards are like oil in a car, you should just replace them every 2-3 months.

      For 15-20 bucks a pop I enjoy having fully responsive keys without all that scarey shit lurking a half inch from my fingers all day.

      Kind of like swimming in the open ocean with god knows what lurking in the depths just below you.
    • by Kenshin ( 43036 )
      Recently I cleaned-out my keyboard, and there was nearly enough cat hair in there to make a new cat.

      It gets EVERYWHERE.
  • by WarMonkey ( 721558 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:23PM (#10007980)

    Take up smoking. Tobacco will give you a legitimate reason to worry about your health and deaden your sense of smell.
  • Seriously. Us poor script kiddies are crying, "need more b0xen!" and this guy is wasting all this money on some damn non-volatile plastics.
  • by Mordant ( 138460 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:25PM (#10007999)
    This. []
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:26PM (#10008011) Homepage Journal
    Couldn't stand em. Made me sick. Well one day I decided to have one even though I didn't like em. Felt like I had wasted my money. Know what I did? I bought another one. After about 5 Big Macs I was startin' to dig it. Now I really like Big Macs. Sometimes you have just to grin and bare it until your body adjusts. Now maybe you have a serious medical condition and are literally allergic to this stuff. In which case, you can probably get some injections that will very slowly expose your body to it until you are used to it. But chances are you're not seriously allergic to this stuff, you're just a big cry baby. Eat the damn Big Mac.
    • by evn ( 686927 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:38PM (#10008118)
      Couldn't stand em.
      Made me sick. Well one day I decided to have one even though I didn't like em. Felt like I had wasted my money. Know what I did? I bought another one. After about 5 Big Macs I was startin' to dig it. Now I really like Big Macs.

      I think you might have had something wrong with you long before you ever had the Big Mac. I mean you force fed yourself the culinary equivalent of raw sewage for God's sake!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I used to be afraid of burning myself on the stove, so I did the same thing. Now I have no feeling in my right hand. I guess that means it worked???
    • by wwest4 ( 183559 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:48PM (#10008193)
      I used to hate buttsex. Couldn't stand it. Made me sick. Well one day I decided to try it even though I didn't like it. Felt like I had wasted my time. Know what I did? I had more buttsex. After about 5 buttsex sessions I was startin' to dig it. Now I really like buttsex. Sometimes you have just to grin and bare (sic) it until your body adjusts. Now maybe you have a serious medical condition and are literally allergic to this stuff. In which case, you can probably get some injections that will very slowly expose your body to it until you are used to it. But chances are you're not seriously allergic to this stuff, you're just a big cry baby. Have the damn buttsex.

      Suddenly, your advice doesn't sound so good.

      Allergies aren't the same, because it's less an issue of personal preference than big macs or specific sexual proclivities. People can carelessly spew allergens... they can't carelessly perform anal on you or casually force-feed you big macs. If they did, you'd be pretty pissed, wouldn't you?

    • I heartily suggest this to anyone with a gluten or peanut allergy as well. Very affective!

      (Trying to gain enough frequent flyer points for a free one-way ticket to hell.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:28PM (#10008027)
    My youngest son had many such allergies: plasticizers, peanut butter, and a few others. After dealing with the HMO quacks for over a year, we took him to a real doctor, who showed us that the only way to cope with these afflictions is to gradually increase your exposure to them so that you can build up a tolerance. DO NOT try to run from them like a sissy; they are everywhere, and you will ruin your life if you can't handle a little plastic or varnish here and there. These days, the symptoms are all but nonexistent in my son, and the treatment worked.

    Just my 2 cents, from a concerned parent who's been there.

    • This is not good advice for peanut allergy sufferers. Peanut allergies are the most severe food allergy to humans, even worse than shellfish or eggs. Peanut allergies kill 50 to 100 Americans each year. Even ingesting half a peanut will put most sufferers into anaphylactic shock.

      The most advanced vaccine research requires monthly injections and has been shown to increase this tolerance to 9 peanuts before anaphylactic shock occurs. It does not appear likely that sufferers will ever be able to purposefu
  • by cyclop ( 780354 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:28PM (#10008032) Homepage Journal

    Sensibility to volatile compounds is a rare allergy, but it is true. It's not some kind of queer twist. There are people that cannot dress anything but pure,white cotton without having serious, harmful allergies.

    I'm allergic,with asthma. My condition is much milder than him, but I indeed suffer inside new cars, for example.

    I hate politically correct,so it's nice you joke. But,after,try help him. (I have no clue,sorry).

  • by erice ( 13380 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:29PM (#10008043) Homepage
    If you very sensitive, get a friend to open up all the shrink wrap and let it air out and his/her place. New plastics do outgas but it doesn't last very long.
  • by pudding7 ( 584715 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:29PM (#10008044)
    Wow. What a way to live. Have you ever bought a new car? Do you ever plan too? Can you fly commercial airlines? Plane cabins stink. What about driving near pastures or out in the country in general. Do you have allergies, or just some super-sensitive snout? Do you complain when a movie theatre smells like feet, or do you avoid movie theatres because of your condition. I mean, if you spend this much time trying to make sure your desk is ok for your nose, it must be pretty serious. Do you claim ADA and get special stuff at work, or do you suffer though each day.

    Sounds like a geek ailment to me.
  • by seringen ( 670743 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:30PM (#10008046)
    one time i dropped my computer on my foot and slid down a few stairs while moving. In that case, the computer itself was a very large airborne particle!
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:32PM (#10008068)
    I regularly spindles of CDRs and in one out of four cases, when I unwrap them and open them, *man* there's some really nasty chemical smell coming from the CDs. It's so bad I have to close the spindle as fast as possible, and I'm not even remotely allergic to anything.

    If they're anything like the CDRs I buy, this guy's must be hell for him...
  • by smclean ( 521851 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:35PM (#10008100) Homepage
    ...when you get sick from the smell of your own tin-foil hat.
  • by general_re ( 8883 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:36PM (#10008111) Homepage
    Seriously, no flamebait or trolling intended, but the world just isn't geared towards indulging this sort of predilection. What are you going to do, live life as a total shut in, in your glass and sheet-metal room? From the minute you're born to the minute you die, you're awash in organics every moment of your life, and there's nothing you can do about, nor is there generally any reason to do anything about it.

    I think I stopped taking this kind of thing very seriously when I read a study where self-identified MCS sufferers were intentionally exposed to chemicals in a blind test - expose them to chemicals with no detectable odor, and they have no reaction. Expose them to harmless chemicals with a noticeable odor, and they immediately have a "reaction".

    I hate to be a bastard, but I think that for the vast majority of "sufferers", the underlying problem is far more likely to be psychological than physiological. Perhaps you should approach it from that perspective.

  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:38PM (#10008119)
    I find that placing a fine layer of Obecalp spray over the entire surface works miracles when it comes to containing the problem that leads to these symptoms. Like everthing good, it is hard to get ahold of: but I have a supply, and for the low price of only $99 a bottle I can sell you some.

    Unfortunately, there is a risk you may have to repeat the treatment after a while. It really depends on the severity of you Airdnocopyh (the scientific name for this serious illness) condition.
  • Furniture (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:38PM (#10008121) Homepage
    You said it yourself - IKEA. Their stuff tends towards simplicity, with few materials, so it's easy for you to inspect beforehand to see if it works for you. Stuff like fabrics and upholstery are allergy tested (at least they are in Sweden) - we've had plenty of people worrying (rightly or wrongly) about these issues for a long time already, and so they've adapted to it. And it won't make a large gouge in your wallet either.

    As for computers - try getting a second-hand mouse and keyboard (grab an IBM Model M if you can find it), as the plastic softener emissions degrease over time. For monitor, perhaps a metal-beveled LCD model could work. LCD's do have the benefit of not creating static fields in front, which tends to attract dust on to the skin (which people sometimes react to).

  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:48PM (#10008196) Homepage
    First let me say get allergy tested, tested for asthma, etc. as another poster suggested. There may be some medicine that can reduce the effects.

    That said I think we all know the smell of new plastic and it's not that great. Your problem is that you are bother by it, the "new car smell" if you will, only you are FAR more sensitive, right? Well new car smell goes away after a while, after the car has been aired out (it takes a while, obviously). So my first suggestion is to air it out. I would say put it in a big room (have access to a gymnasium?) or some other large space where it will be safe (obviously you can't leave it out in a parking lot). Then set a bunch of fans (or better yet rent or get your hands on one of the HUGE box fans that are used for drying carpet or cheap AC, a Gym would probably have one). Set it up and let it run (make sure there is a source of fresh air, say put the setup to pull air in from a door) and just let it go for a while (a few days maybe?). I would think that (espeically if it's hot, so it all "sweats") would do a great job of fixing it (or at least making it bearable).

    My other suggestions would be to try used equiptment. Because it's used, the smell may have already dissapated.

    Last is, relocate it. Is that a possibilty for you? Put the PC and such in another room (as much as possible) and run the cords through the wall. That way all you'd need is the keyboard/mouse/monitor, and maybe a diskdrive (say USB/Firewire CD-RW). The less stuff there is, the less the fumes.

    As for specific products, I'm not sure what to suggest. You had an idea for a monitor, and someone somewhere must make an aluminum keyboard/mouse. Is rubber much of a problem? You could use one of those rubber keyboards (often designed to roll up or such). They may not be the most comfortable, but it might work.

    If rubber does work, you could get a thin paint rubber (must exist if rubber dip exists, although that might work, I know there is a rubber spay can out there) and cover all the part (or at least the surfaces of the plastic parts). That way, you may be able to trap the smell in.

    Good luck.

  • That sucks. (Score:4, Funny)

    by mooreBS ( 796555 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:49PM (#10008201)
    I love the smell of fresh hardware so much I kept all the packaging that came with my Powerbook. Every once in a while I open it up and remember that magical moment, my first Mac.
  • NASA Might help (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fiz Ocelot ( 642698 ) <> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:53PM (#10008230)
    Everything that goes into space that interacts with humans needs to be tested for smells. Even things that seem perfectly fine to any normal person could be terrible in space due to temperatures and environment they're exposed to.

    So I think a starting point me be with This guy. [] Here also. [] I don't know if they would release any info to you about what items you may find tolerable but it might be worth a shot.

  • by dfolk ( 802285 ) <{moc.etagtrams} {ta} {nad}> on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @08:54PM (#10008240)
    You could probably save a few bucks by putting yourself in an inert plastic bubble instead of buying all new furniture etc.
  • So, in summary... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @09:30PM (#10008470)
    ...go and see a doctor about it?

    If it's genuine, nobody will have better resources to identify what's causing the allergy.

    If it's psychosomatic, nobody will be better qualified to identify it as such and treat it.
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @09:38PM (#10008514) Homepage

    No one in my office liked the smell of
    computer hardware. The problem was driving
    us all completely crazy, until we found
    the answer:

    Now everyone in my office just uses one of these! us .htm
  • by riprjak ( 158717 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @10:28PM (#10008816)
    "High-density hard synthetics like polypropylene (a popular material at Ikea) or acrylic"

    (warning, I am about to rant again, one of those weeks)

    Polymers such as Polypropylene are not just popular with Ikea, there is a good change damn near every white good in your house; most of your car and several of your brown goods are mostly polypropylene (PP) (toilet seats/cisterns even in some countries); your outdoor furniture is almost certainly PP if it isnt metal and glass; maybe even have polyamide (see rant below) cushions. Im certain the top of your washing machine is polypropylene unless it is one of the very new (recently trendy) aluminium exterior or an industrial steel construction one.

    Lets not forget the ABS/PC (Acrylonitrile butadiene Styrene/Poly Carbonate) Alloys often used in computer equipment and cars and most "finished" (painted or electroplated) polymer products; "Acrylic" (sic), perhaps you mean PMMA (Poly Methyl Methacrylate); like most of the non-glass drinkware in your house?? That woodgrain in your car, unless it is a VERY EXPENSIVE luxury vehicle, it is almost certainly cubic printed PC/ABS (mercedes owners, sit down, most of yours are cubic printed too). The lenses of your sunglasses/glasses are almost certainly Poly Carbonate or, worse, a thermoset polymer; more volatiles!!! (used in production, but, being volatiles, long past outgassed) oh no!!!.

    As for plasticisers; except for FLEXIBLE polymers (like the TPE's used on your mouse wheel and your toothbrush), manufacturers try to avoid volatile plasticisers as they outgas and cause defects during processing; indeed, correct processing of rigid thermoplastics tends to ensure all volatiles are outgassed during processing. If they dont outgas at the 200~300 degrees C they are processed at, they wont at room temperature!!!

    Your car's Instrument Panel is almost certainly skinned with a TPE that will outgas volatiles. Either that or painted with a soft feel paint, once again, it will outgas volatiles. Why do you think you need to clean the inside of your winshield so often??

    Do you use a latex or synthetic pillow?? or blanket/quilt/doona/comforter(insert name for said from your country here)... more polymers with volatile plasticisers.

    I am fairly certain, in fact, that your computer is the LEAST LIKELY item in your home/life to produce volatiles which make you sick/cause allergic reaction. Unless dust/fluid from YOUR ENVIRONMENT is frying on heatsinks etc...

    Do you wear ALL COTTON/WOOL clothes??? well, bugger me if you arent wearing plasticised poly amide filaments ("Nylon" or "polyester"); your toothbrush bristles are made of similar materials. Even your toothpaste probably comes out of a PET (Poly Ethylene Teripthalate) or PE (poly ethylene) or PP receptacle.

    Hell, the shelves in your fridge are likely to be PMMA or PC if they arent steel mesh. Im fairly certain you have a Poly Ethylene chopping board in your house and drink your favourite soft drink or fruit juice from a PET bottle (oh! no, plastic!!!) bottle.

    Bloody hell, whilst we do tear shit out of the enviroment using fossil fuels to create these polymers (although recycling helps, ALOT, you all should do it or lobby your local council/government to do it; takes maybe 5 minutes out of your day); they are so all pervasive that suggesting the use of plasticised polymers in your computer or doped ceramics is making you sick. Lacquered wood or coated metals are just as likely to outgas if heated as many polymers...

    What a crock; most allergy specialists would look for OBVIOUS causes first... dust, dust mites, pollen... And even if it *IS* from polymer additives (not plasticisers, these are far from common in rigid polymers), your computer hardware is almost certainly the SMALLEST contributor.

    I challenge ANYONE in the western world to proove that they come into contact with more variety of polymers due to their computer than in the rest of their life. If you drive a car, you already loose Almos
    • Somedays Im an idiot....

      "I challenge ANYONE in the western world to proove that they come into contact with more variety of polymers due to their computer than in the rest of their life. If you drive a car, you already loose Almost every fascia component on the interior and exterior of a car is polypropylene; include the ABS/PC." (I DID proof read it too... duh!)

      should be ....If you drive a car you alread loose, almost every fascia component on the interior and exterior is polypropylene; include the abs/p
    • Windshield? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kohath ( 38547 )
      Why do you think you need to clean the inside of your winshield so often??

      Top ten reasons:

      10. When you fire the gun from in there, the gunshot residue stays in the car.
      9. Because if I don't clean it, the gasses from the film on the inside make me wheeze.
      8. When I hit the brakes hard, Rover goes flying. Whee!
      7. If you leave cookies on the dashboard for a half hour they get warm. Mmmm...
      6. If you leave cookies on the dashboard for a half year, they grow a fine green hair.
      5. My parents never leave the h
  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @11:22PM (#10009065)
    Seriously, why that chair over say a wood chair with fabric upholstery? That Herman Miller chair has got to be 85+% plastic. Or, is it just becuase the website for the chair mentions "95% recyclability" and that phrase somehow magically makes you immune to the fact that the Mirra chair is going to contain quite a few of the chemicals you say make you "sick".
  • Raw wood, eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Wednesday August 18, 2004 @11:28PM (#10009088) Journal
    Funny how unvarnished, unglued wood is wonderful and safe. Most people in the woodworking industry (especially the fine work stuff, heavy hardwoods, etc.) feel somewhat differently. Check out this table of wood toxicities [] for some properly backed data.
  • Plastic Parts (Score:3, Informative)

    by gpburdell ( 514193 ) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:59AM (#10009442)
    I work for a computer manufacturer and one of the test we do is plastic outgasing. Basically we measure how much chemicals are being released into the air over time from plastic parts. The limits for this have been changing and so have the plastics. Many of the new plastics have very low outgasing. These should start showing up soon, if not already.

    Now we don't have much issue with this in my division (server) because everything is made out metal except for a few small fillers, etc.

    P.S. That film you get on inside of your car window. That is your dash outgasing chemicals.
  • Power Mac G5? (Score:3, Informative)

    by metalligoth ( 672285 ) <> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:07AM (#10009468)
    Desktop: Power Mac G5 with Cinema Display
    Laptop: PowerBook G4

    You answered your own question.

  • by foobsr ( 693224 ) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:49AM (#10010305) Homepage Journal
    Could supply you literally with a framework to build on. Not overly expensive either, though all the (aluminium) elements add up ...
    MB Building Kit System []


"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers