How toxic are melted plastic fumes?

I was re-heating some pizza on a cookie sheet the other day, when I noticed a peculiar smell emanating from our oven. It turns out that a rogue refrigerator magnet had attached itself to the cookie sheet, and was now a molten mess. Sadly, the plastic had melted onto one of the racks and to the bottom of the oven. I was able to remove it and any plastic debris I could find from the oven after it cooled and solidified. But is my oven now toxic? Do I need to worry about trace amounts of plastic that I can’t see? If I say, cook a Turkey for my relatives for the big Holiday, will I be poisoning them?

Burning plastics do emit gases which are not good for you. You already removed what you could. I would turn the oven on very high, until the plastic was completely burnt. Suck out the fumes with a fan while doing this. Don’t wait until you cook a meal.

The safe answer: YES, clean your oven, keeping in mind that the oven cleaner is probably more toxic than melted plastic and undercooked turkey combined.

What I personally think: No, scrape off any plastic from the oven rack, wipe it down & you’ll be fine.

Melted plastic doesn’t produce toxic fumes that I’m aware of, especially not from such a small mass as you are talking about. On the other foot, burning plastic can produce dioxin, a deadly poison. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is known to produce dioxin when burned, however not all plastics are evil in this way. Friendly plastics that contain the usual carbon, hydrogen & oxygen are safer than those that contain nitrogen (nylon) or chlorine (PVC). It’s hard to say what any given piece of plastic is made from, but I would hazard to say that any plastic manufactured for use in microwaves should be toxin-free.

It should also be noted that plastic shouldn’t be hated just because of the toxins it might generate when burned. Any carbon-based material produces hazardous byproducts under most combustion conditions, mostly due to incomplete combustion. Burning gasoline produces carbon monoxide, and burning methanol can produce formaldehyde.

I seriously doubt that the plastic dish you used was made from PVC. Have a nice turkey day!

you can also use a torch to burn it off, this might be better and allow more complete combuston - but OTOH will expose you to the fumes more directly.

I’m posting this a second time as the first one didn’t seem to get through.

I worked in a plastics factory once. There is a definite odor. Could that be hazardous? I was never warned about it if it was.

I got pretty dizzy breathing some plastic fumes. Your milage may vary. Best thing to do, call the people who made the plastic that melted. As for getting it out of your oven, perhaps put some ice on it & knock it off with a hammer?

This is anecdotal but related…

I was bored in my office and decided to destroy an expired credit card. I’d misplaced my scissors so I decided I’d just bend the card back and forth a couple of dozen times until it was so weakened I could tear it and/or the numbers would be unreadable. So there I was, bent over the card, bending it back and forth like a maniac, and suddenly it was like someone had shoved a knife through my skull. I thought I was going to black out. It was the fumes that were coming from the bent card and they nearly did me in. I couldn’t believe it.

I always knew credit was bad for you…