I melted plastic, made smoke and fumes. Are my infants at risk?

We have 6 month old twins. As part of our ongoing desire to ensure that they are looked after well, we are continuing to sterilize bottles and such. Our method of sterilizing is using a steamer insert in a pot in which we simmer water at med-low to steam sterilize the bottles. Last night I left the breast pump pieces in when we went to bed. I figure the pot ran dry at 12-1AM, and discovered this at 6AM. In that time the plastic bits had melted through the strainer and cooked into a black sludge on the bottom of the pot (the silicone pieces are still intact) and creating an invisible odor penetrating the house. There was smoke in the pot when I lifted the lid off (outside).

We’ve opened the windows to air the place out, and the densest odor is in the kitchen/living room. The bedrooms are less noticeable.

Are we, and especially the kids, at risk for some level of toxicity? I don’t know what sort of plastic it was (hard and clear) to be able to find specific information. Is it merely (!) eye/lung irritation, or long-term health effects? We only noticed that it was smelly, no other apparent irritations.

As usual with these sorts fo things you need to ask a doctor. You also might consider given a poison control hotline a ring and ask them.

That said I doubt there are any serious health risks to be had from what you describe. While not a good thing I imagine the level of junk from burning plastic in the air is pretty low by the time it dilutes throughout the house. If levels were high enough to cause some form of poisoning I imagine you’d see the effects right away upon waking up (dizziness, nausea, headaches, etc.).

Again, those are all just guesses so it would be prudent to give your doctor a call just to be on the safe side (especially considering we have infants involved who may not be able to tolerate such things as well as an adult).

which is probably affiliated with a major hospital in your area or the public health department.

They’ll be able to help you assess any posible health risks to your babies.

The one in our area put out a report that they average about 1,000 calls a year from people who think their DOG may have swallowed something dangerous. I think your concern for your children would be a more reasonable call to a center.

I hadn’t thought of that, since there was nothing ingested.

I called the poison control center and they said that it is just a problem of respitory irritation, or headaches and nausea if exposed for a prolonged period at high concentrations and to go to the hospital if any irritations are noticed. She also said that this is a very common occurance. That didn’t make me feel a whole lot better, perhaps a little less concerned.

Since the bedrooms are separated from the living area by a door that is closed at night, it seems that they (we) may be okay. All the doors and windows are open and mom and the kids are going to head out for a while to make sure they are getting some fresh(er) air.

Can’t help you with the fumes…

Do you have smoke detectors in your home? They certainly should have alerted you to the problem when it started to occur. If you do have alarms, you should check/replace the batteries.

Smoke detectors won’t detect the fumes. Cantara said there was an invisible odor, so I’m assuming no smoke other than what was mentioned in the pot.

Don’t have much experience with smoke alarms do ya? Mine are always going off from invisible fumes.

Mine will go off with trace amounts of smoke. They won’t go off with fumes though.

I tested the detectors about a month ago, just by the test button, and they worked. I’ve not changed the batteries recently, though…been meaning to. As for the type of detector, I don’t recall offhand, but assume that it’s the photo-somehting type that senses visible smoke. I may get another one that will work in concert with this one. I will also probably try a piece of burning paper as well to test the sensetivity of it as well.

The carbon monoxide detector did not go off either…but I suppose that makes sense…

There was no visible smoke in the house. When I took the pot outside there was still no smoke emanating from it. Only when I removed the lid did the smoke billow out. It was dark out, but the smoke appeared to be a light gray (rather than a dark ‘burning rubber’) smoke.

I know I’ve gotten terrible, searing headaches from plastic fumes. Most notably once when I was bending a cradit card back and forth rapidly to enable me to tear it up. Yowsah.

But my comment was–at this age, sterilizing bottles may not be necessary. Your dishwasher (if you have one) should be more than adequate. You could save yourself a lot of time and trouble if you didn’t sterilize all those bottles and parts!

By far the most common detectors are ionization type. They are the cheapies available in any store. Mine are super-sensitive, cripes, all I have to do is take a package of bacon out of the refrigerator to make them squall.

I have a squeeky clean oven, thanks to these darn things. If there is one food particle left after baking, I can count on them going off. We even have to be careful about lighting too many candles or inscense at a time.