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kma3346 Donating Member (423 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:24 AM
Original message
That toxic "made in China" smell
What is the deal with the horrible smell that some items made in China emit? I bought an ottoman last year that had the most God-awful smell when you opened it up. The odor was really chemical in nature and very very strong. After a couple of months it finally went away.

I recently bought a new bedroom set (also made in China because it's just about impossible to find any furniture that isn't made somewhere else these days) and it is really, really toxic smelling. The chest of drawers, in particular, is overwhelming when you open any of the drawers.

I don't remember furniture smelling like that back in the not-so-distant past. It used to be that they smelled kind of good, kind of like WOOD! I started getting curious about what the heck they put in nowadays that makes them smell so bad. And I'm also worried that it might unhealthy to sleep in a room that is permeated with this toxic smell. And finally, I'm wondering if there is any way to get rid of the smell. I checked on the web and there was a lot of complaining about this issue, but no good ideas of how to deal with it--other than not buying furniture made in China, which I guarantee I will not do again.
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madokie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:29 AM
Response to Original message
1. I suspect it is fumigating to kill some bugs before they get here
I for the most part am a made in china free dude, just don't buy it anymore
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
2. I cant tell
if it's the lacquer paint or pesticides, or something else.
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bleedingheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
3. you should smell some of the plastic toys...egads...
my daughter came home from a birthday party with this jewelry that smelled like a toxic chemical...it went in the trash.
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momster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:33 AM
Response to Original message
4. Dried Fish Smell
I bought my husband a couple of shirts that reeked of fish, even after several washings. If anything, the washing intensified the odor. We pitched them, even though they were perfectly good otherwise. I doubt they were really contaminated by fish, but it sure smelled like it.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #4
17. It's formaldehyde, and it's bad for you.
Pressed wood products are loaded with it. So are treated wood products. Toxic.

http://www.answers.com/topic/formaldehyde?cat=health

Formaldehyde is a simple, highly reactive hydrocarbon that is used as a fixative in the pathology laboratory, as a fumigant, and in the manufacture of foam insulation, cosmetics, drugs, clothing, and furniture. It is also a major toxic component of photochemical smog. Formaldehyde is a strong allergen and irritant to which humans have a very low odor threshold (less than 1 ppm), and it is carcinogenic in the rat bioassay via the inhalation route. Formaldehyde increases airway resistance when inhaled, probably because of local irritation and release of inflammatory mediators. Additionally, formaldehyde is a strong contact allergen. Both pulmonary changes and dermatologic symptoms have been reported in the occupational setting. Acute and chronic dermatitis was once a common complaint in the beauty parlor industry because of using formaldehyde in fingernail finishes. Histology and pathology laboratories were common sites of high levels of exposure. However, after the report of nasal tumors in rats, industrial hygiene measures were instituted to minimize exposure. This was also true in the garment industry, where formaldehyde was used in the manufacture of permanent press fabrics.

http://www.vaccinetruth.org/formalin.htm (scroll down to the LA Times article)

    OAKLAND Destined for American kitchens, planks of birch and poplar plywood are stacked to the ceiling of a cavernous port warehouse. The wood, which arrived in California via a cargo ship, carries two
    labels: One proclaims "Made in China," while the other warns that it contains formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical.

    Because formaldehyde wafts off the glues in this plywood, it is illegal to sell in many countries even the one where it originated, China. But in the United States this wood is legal, and it is routinely crafted into cabinets and furniture.

    As the European Union and other nations have tightened their environmental standards, mostly in the last two years, manufacturers here and around the world are selling goods to American consumers
    that fail to meet other nations' stringent laws for toxic chemicals. Wood, toys, electronics, pesticides and cosmetics are among U.S. products that contain substances that are banned or restricted elsewhere, particularly in Europe and Japan, because they may raise the risk of cancer, alter hormones or cause reproductive or neurological damage.

    Michael Wilson, a professor at UC Berkeley's Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, said the United States is becoming a "dumping ground" for consumer goods that are unwanted and illegal in
    much of the world. Wilson warned earlier this year in a report commissioned by the California Legislature that "the United States has fallen behind globally in the move toward cleaner technologies."

    The European Union, driven by consumers' concerns, has banned or heavily restricted hundreds of toxic substances in recent years, invoking its "precautionary principle," which is codified into law and prescribes that protective steps should be taken when there is scientific evidence of risks to public health or the environment. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies have relied on voluntary steps from industries rather than regulations, saying the threats posed by low levels of chemicals are too uncertain to eliminate products valuable to consumers or businesses.

    In the absence of U.S. regulations, some international corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Mattel, Revlon and Orly International, have declared that all their products, no matter where they are made or sold, will comply with EU standards, the most stringent chemical laws in the world. "We don't operate to different standards in different parts of the globe, regardless of differing environmental standards," said John Frey, manager of corporate environmental strategies at Palo Alto- based Hewlett-Packard......

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here_is_to_hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. That is exactly why we went with
Strawbale construction...after reading about "outgassing" of these plywoods and OSB sheeting...no thanks!
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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
5. Formaldehyde?
Was just reading an article how children clothing has been recalled from china because excessive amounts of formaldehyde. Could be they're using it as a preservative?
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backscatter712 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. PVC is another culprit...
Buy a shower curtain? Chances are good you'll be exposing yourself to carcinogens for weeks when you're in the bathroom, since the fumes from that new vinyl shower curtain will take that long to dissipate.

That, or you could get a baby's bib, which is not only made out of PCV, but also is painted with lead paint. Mmmmm, healthy...
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sharp_stick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. I know those shower curtains are nasty
we usually open it and lay it out somewhere for a few days so we don't have to endure it during the shower as much.

BTW Welcome to DU :hi:
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yardwork Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #8
15. Welcome to DU! Very good points!
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mzmolly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #8
27. Not only that but baby bottles, camping mattresses, mattress covers for cribs etc...
:puke:
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 01:16 AM
Response to Reply #5
41. No, it's a constituent of the glue used in plywood
The classic plywood glue is Urea-Formaldehyde. (Vegan alert: there's also dried cow's blood in it.) It's got powdered urea, formaldehyde, cow blood and various polymeric resins whose names vary depending on the plywood's intended use.

They put more formaldehyde in than the reaction really needs, to be sure they got it all. This is what offgasses.
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:35 AM
Response to Original message
6. The hose to a showerhead...
never smelled anything like it in my life. I'm hoping it goes away before winter sets on. It triggers the gag reflex.
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kma3346 Donating Member (423 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:46 AM
Response to Reply #6
12. That's the weird thing
The fact that it's a brand new smell is pretty weird. It's different than any other toxic thing I've ever smelled, and it's becoming very common in a lot of the new items that are imported over here and sold. My parents like me to take them shopping at the Dollar Tree and Big Lot stores when they're in town, but often I'll have to leave after a short time because the smell in those places is so overpowering.

The paranoid part of me thinks, "They're trying to kill us!" But that couldn't be true, because surely they wouldn't want to kill off the people who buy so much of their stuff, right???

:tinfoilhat: :sarcasm: :tinfoilhat:
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billyoc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:38 AM
Response to Original message
7. It's sort of like that "new car smell", only it kills you.
:rofl:
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #7
20. Don't look now, but "New Car Smell" is toxic too.
It's many of those same plastic compounds we're discussing
already in this thread.



"Ahh, just smell that rich Corintian leather!
I like what they've done to my car!"

Tesha
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Whoa_Nelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:40 AM
Response to Original message
9. Am thinking the odors (off gassing) are from the toxic glues and solvents used
Edited on Mon Aug-20-07 11:41 AM by Whoa_Nelly
in piecing the wood and/or fabric in the creation of the furniture items.

There are still many countries, China included, that do not have safety regulations and or prohibitons when it comes to using toxic chemicals. And for those countries who do have regulations, those are often not enforced, or have little oversight.
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jebediah Donating Member (111 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
10. Keeping "smelly" furniture in the house can damage your lungs...
And/or your nervous, circulatory, and immune system.

The fungal controls, flame retardants, and constituent chemicals that vent or leach from the foams, carpets, plastics, and fake woods are *not* entirely benign.

Best to read up on the various issues... you'll be surprised.

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pansypoo53219 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
13. i am beginning to think
resale/estate sale is the way to go. my mom got a cart for loading and the paint just was so horrid smelling i just knew it had to be toxic. heck, old stuff is built better anyways. it needs repair on the caned seat cause somebody(idiot) tried to stand on a CANED seat, but the east lake 1870's chair is still tight as a rock.
i got a deco dresser that is built well, but the drawers are HUGE. could fit 3 12lb cats in one drawer. rather by a $5 old mod coffee table that needs a coat of pain that send more $ to china.
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FourScore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:47 AM
Response to Original message
14. I love the smell of Chinese products in the morning... n/t
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:51 AM
Response to Original message
16. oh yeah...
I forgot about The Pig Light.

One of my nephews has always given us gag gifts... The Kitsch Collection I call it. He tries hard to outdo himself. One year he gave us this florescent pink plastic Made in China pig with a small lightbulb inside, a glow-in-the-dark accent lite. It was some kind of cellular plastic, made of little round balls like cells.

I have never smelled such a terrible toxic smell in my life. It was so strong we had to put it on an open back porch because it permeated the whole house. I did an experiment to see how long it would be before the pig outgassed. After about a year of sitting there, the pig smelled just as fresh as the day it was bought. So I left it there another year, through snow and rain and withering heat.
The pig never ever lost it's toxicity we all agreed. After 2 years.

Finally with apologies to my nephew, I threw it in the garbage. WHAT was in the pig?
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
18. Here're some sources of non-Chinese furniture
Here're some sources of non-Chinese furniture. None of them
are inexpensive, of course, but what you buy from them will
probably last forever.

* http://www.pompanoosuc.com /

* http://www.vermonttubbs.com /

* http://www.charleswebbcidesigns.com /

* Schilling Furniture (Cambridge, MA)

Tesha

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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #18
49. Downbeat Update
This one may be dead :( :

* http://www.charleswebbcidesigns.com

Tesha
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 12:14 PM
Response to Original message
19. I worked once at a retail store
Edited on Mon Aug-20-07 12:14 PM by Canuckistanian
Canadian Tire, if you know it.

We once got a shipment of small wicker baskets from China for a special sale. Really cheap.

I unpacked the first box and the smell nearly overcame me. And, inspecting the boxes a little more closely, I found flies and other bugs embedded in the varnish or shellac on the baskets.

I alerted my boss, and he screamed "Send them back! We're not selling that crap!"
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 01:09 AM
Response to Reply #19
40. If it's shellac, it comes with free bugs
Shellac is the secretion of the Lac Beetle. If you fail to strain dissolved shellac, there will be insect parts in the final result.
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 12:38 PM
Response to Original message
21. We need a new refrigerator. Went and looked at them and GE, Maytag and others Smelled!
I opened the door of one of them and almost fell over at the terrible smell. Checked others made by Maytag and Kitchen Aid and the smell was less but still there. They must be using plastics that emit some kind of horrible odor. I couldn't find a salesperson to ask but if I did I'll bet they would have looked at me like I had four heads.

I wrote a post on DU about a year ago complaining about the terrible odor of new shoes that are made in China. Just opening the shoe box is nauseating and the shoes don't lose the smell. It's the glues and what they tan the leather with I think. I try to find shoes from other countries (like Brazil) but it's tough...they are almost all made in China or India these days. One has to order online to find anything made here and the selections aren't great.
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here_is_to_hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Even our Beloved Doc Martens are coming from
Brazil now....they are the only shoes we wear as they last forever...oh well, like my Ray Ban sunglasses, time to stockpile all the good used ones I can find!
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #21
30. Italy makes some mighty fine shoes.. and they smell leathery :)
:)
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alittlelark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:28 PM
Response to Reply #30
37. Portugal has some mighty fine shoes as well.
They smell great for 4 or 5 months.... then, well, the smell seems to alter a bit - curious.
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KT2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 01:18 PM
Response to Original message
24. Please get rid of it
return it to the store so they know their products are unsatisfactory.

Besides the respiratory and skin issues, many of these chemicals are neurotoxins - as in brain damage. It is just not worth it.

Think about it - one third of your life is spent in the bedroom. That is a lot of time spent inhaling toxic chemicals.
;)
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kma3346 Donating Member (423 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 10:18 AM
Response to Reply #24
43. I'd like to, but....
My husband thinks I'm being paranoid and overreacting. I guess I'll go out and buy a bunch of spider plants and put them in the bedroom!
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KT2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #43
48. Please tell your husband
that in the area of chemical injury, it is women and children first.
I hear this so often.
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libodem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 01:19 PM
Response to Original message
25. Several years ago
mom's office all moved into a brand new building. I don't know if it was the paint, carpet or cabinetry, but I would start getting the twinkling lights of an aura signaling an impending migraine, with in a half an hour of entering the building. Something was toxic. I think it is PCB's that are emitted from plastics. This summer, I threw a tarp over my patio to block the sun. Man oh man does that thing stink sometimes. I should go find a canvas tarp!
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lazyriver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 01:28 PM
Response to Original message
26. Until recently, I worked for a company that imported
some cheap folding furniture from China. The smell of a freshly opened shipping container was overwhelming. The furniture was aluminum and polyester and smelled of a combination of formaldehyde, diesel fuel, and something else that is indescribable. In addition to whatever toxic leachate was coming off the product, the inside of the container was dusted with a white powder the Chinese refused to identify (would not provide MSDS or even name of the compound). One of our dock workers who spent some time in prison years ago said it smelled like de-lousing powder. Some of the guys who unloaded these containers reported headaches and skin irritation after doing so. It became common practice for them to go home, shower and change after an unload. Scary stuff.
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Maraya1969 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 01:55 PM
Response to Original message
28. This is one of the reasons I am into buying used stuff. I hate the idea
of sitting on toxic chemicals from the new couch I bought, (which was the last big piece of furniture I bought new). I'd rather buy second hand stuff that has no particle board or anything else cheap in it.

Most of the furniture in my house is solid wood and most is second hand and I like it like that. Plus I am tired of being a big consumer.

Oh and I have had reactions from formaldehyde from paneling many years ago. I swear that besides the swollen tongue and hives and wheezing I had a panicky feeling and a feeling of unreality after I helped tear it down. Which are the same feelings I get that are labeled "panic disorder" and started when I was only 17. I mention this because people do not usually think of mental symptoms being caused by environment and I am hear to tell you that YES IT CAN HAPPEN!
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starchimes Donating Member (80 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
29. I bought one of those portable chairs in a bag, it smelled like
gasoline. I thought it was from the truck parked next to where I was sitting. So I bought another one, it smelled the same. I have one of them in the corner of my patio. When it gets hot out, you can smell it from a distance. I need to throw them away.
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Morning Dew Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:54 PM
Response to Reply #29
39. Plastic bags at the checkout counter, too -
they smell like kerosene these days. I noticed it about two years ago or so.

I go for paper bags but some stores don't have them.
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Dont_Bogart_the_Pretzel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 11:31 AM
Response to Reply #39
46. Someone here had a great idea about taking /making your own bag
Edited on Tue Aug-21-07 11:34 AM by Dont_Bogart_the_Pret
They used old tee-shirts and sewn the bottom and it look really neat
sorry, but I can't find the link.

Heres one place
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/reusable_b...
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satya Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
31. Here's a list of houseplants that are supposed to help clean the air:
Indoor Plants to Clean the Air

If you decide to live with the chemicals, maybe this will help?

I, too, have been concerned about all the environmental toxins we've been exposed to. I switched to polycarbonate refillable water bottles, and today I heard Thom Hartmann say that those were problematic, too ...
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Captain Angry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 06:25 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. I bought a stainless steel bottle for when I'm on the go.
When I'm home, it's plain old glass for drinking water.
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satya Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #32
44. Thanks for the tip, wish I'd thought of that sooner. :smacks forehead:
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 06:31 PM
Response to Original message
33. It's still easy to find products made in the USA.
Some are harder to find than others, but furniture isn't too hard to come by.
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GeorgeGist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 08:23 PM
Response to Original message
34. Next time you buy furniture ...
wait until you can afford decent furniture Made In USA. It's worth the investment. It's not hard to find.
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kma3346 Donating Member (423 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. The thing that really irks me is.....
I paid a LOT for this furniture! But next time, it's going to be Made in the USA no matter what (or an an antique).

:grr: :grr: :grr:
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orleans Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 01:38 AM
Response to Reply #36
42. did you read post #17?
can you return this stuff? is there a satisfaction guarantee? if it was so expensive you should be able to return it i would think. tell them you are hiring a toxicologist and when you find out what chemicals are in this crap you're going public with the information. (that might help them want to guarantee your satisfaction a little more)
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 08:26 PM
Response to Original message
35. From a kernel of truth, the mania begins. "Why do Chinese people smell, Daddy?"
:rofl:
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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-20-07 11:29 PM
Response to Original message
38. Flip flops anyone?
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kma3346 Donating Member (423 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #38
45. Wow!
Those pictures of that poor woman's feet are just horrifying. Her skin is just falling off. And, of course, Walmart is totally ignoring her complaints....
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Kadie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-21-07 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #38
47. Ouch!
That looks very painful. That poor lady.





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