Spooky things happening to plastic in my house

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  #1  
Old 06-21-14, 10:49 AM
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Spooky things happening to plastic in my house

For many years, Playtex-type gloves have "melted" in my house, without their being in contact with any corrosive materials--just while lying around on surfaces. Giant holes appear and fingers stick together, and generally the plastic looks like it has been melted, though of course it never gets warmer in the rooms than the low eighties, and a pair even melted in the basement where the temp never exceeds 70 degrees F. It's quite amazing. Over time, at least thirty pairs have become unusable in this way. A quick Google search found someone else with this issue but it doesn't appear to be common, and those responding to that person apparently had never observed it in their own lives.

But now I have what may be a related, and very expensive, problem. I have a manual blood-pressure measuring device (officially called a sphygmomanometer) that I must use daily, and it's made, in part, of some rubbery-type plastic tubing which is all one piece with a bladder of the same material (so the tubing can't be replaced). Well, this vital tubing has become cracked--very badly cracked--over time, to the point that it's becoming difficult to pump up the pressure to the required value due to the leaking of air from the tubes before it gets to the bladder in the inflatable cuff. This exact deterioration has occurred several times in the past, requiring me to replace the unit, at considerable cost.

So, my three questions are: 1)Are the glove and blood pressure device deteriorations related? 2)What is causing this to happen? 3)Most important, what can be done to prevent it?

I wasn't sure if this forum was the proper one for this question. If not, I apologize.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-21-14, 04:23 PM
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Sphygmomanometer is one of my wife's favorite words. That and otolaryngologist.

How old are the gloves that are melting? I imagine it's more related to age than the temperature though I'm sure temperature plays some part. Natural rubber and some plastics can be degraded by things such as pollution, ozone, solvents and UV light.

Is your sphygmomanometer a mercury type? If so I guess that it's rather old and the rubber's degradation may simply be old age.
 
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Old 06-21-14, 06:04 PM
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PD mentioned ozone and that is what came to mind as I read your post. I worked with electronics for many years and got so I could detect ozone by its smell. Old style motors with brushes will be producing ozone when you see or hear them arching. Any bad electrical connection that is arching will also be creating ozone.

Give your history of this problem I would look for someone who can test for different elements in the air and then hopefully track the problem back to the source.

Bud
 
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Old 06-21-14, 07:57 PM
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To Pilot Dane: First, let me applaud you on your guts in your choice of mates--many men I know would be, shall we say, "unmanned" in the presence of a woman who could merely pronounce "sphygmomanometer", let alone have it be one of her favorite words.

As to the age of the gloves--no, surprisingly they're not old; perhaps a couple of years, at most. And the three sphygies that have been affected were young by medical instrument standards. (A mercury sphygie???? No, I think like barometers, the mercury versions of sphygies haven't been on the scene for many decades.)

To Bud9051, you suggested ozone, and Pilot Dane did also, and he mentioned pollution, solvents, and UV light too. Well, my blinds are generally closed, preventing any direct or intense external UV light from sunshine, and there's no internal source. Pollution can be ruled out since, even though I live in the city, it's in an area with little traffic and no industrial plants. As for solvents and arcing electrical motors, etc.--this disclosure may very well get me booted out of the DIY forum with a dishonorable discharge--but I shy away from using solvents, and only have the most basic electrical tools, which I rarely use, since my DIY projects are so basic that a manual saw, or screwdriver, etc. is more than ample. So as far as I can determine, the air in my house could be exchanged for an equal volume from the most remote Himalayan peak and you wouldn't notice any increased freshness or purity.
 
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Old 06-21-14, 08:10 PM
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So there is no electronic air cleaner on the furnace or A/C system either ?
 
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Old 06-21-14, 08:39 PM
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Correct, PJmax--I guess the embarrassing truth is trickling out, you're dealing with a real primitive in me, I may as well have just stepped out of "American Gothic", with nothing more sophisticated than a pitchfork in my possession.

Nope, my furnace, though a relatively new one, doesn't have an electronic (or any other kind of) air cleaner, since it doesn't blow hot air around the house, it heats water in radiators in the various rooms. And I have no central air conditioning, just some room ACs, and each of them has nothing more than a foam filter.

And so The Mystery of the Disintegrating Gloves deepens! Who in this forum will play Hercule Poirot? (Heck, I'll settle for Nancy Drew at this point!)
 
  #7  
Old 06-21-14, 09:42 PM
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I have noticed a strange thing. I buy large rolls of self stick foams and gasket materials. Products you would use to weatherstrip an outdoor cabinet. The foam turns into an oily product that is basically useless. I had assumed this was the oil used in production but what I can't figure out is why it's happening. Sounds like a similar issue to yours.
 
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