Injuries on children caused by cleaning "erasers"-Truth! &Fiction!

Injuries on Children Caused by ScotchBrite Easy Eraser or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser-Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

There are apparently different versions of this but they all warn that children can experience injuries on the skin from the ScotchBrite Easy Eraser or the Mr Clean Magic Eraser.

One of the eRumors says that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is being removed from store shelves because of containing formaldehyde.

The Truth:

The bottom line is that there is a first-hand story of a child who experienced skin irritation from a ScotchBrite Easy Eraser but there is dispute about whether it was from chemicals or the abrasive action of the product from being rubbed on the skin.

The story about Mr. Clean Magic Eraser being removed from the market is not true.
Procter & Gamble Mr Clean Magic Eraser
The eRumor claims that the Magic Eraser contains formaldehyde.
If you review the government-required Material Safety Data Sheet, you see that one of the ingredients is “Formaldehyde-Melamine-Sodium Bisulfite Copolymer.”  That’s the name of the entire ingredient and it’s different than if the product had formaldehyde alone, according to Procter & Gamble.

A company release said that “…the word ‘formaldehyde’ is in its chemical name. However, this ingredient is not formaldehyde and poses no health or safety risks. (Think of this name like ‘sodium chloride’, which is table salt. Sodium by itself can be dangerous, but sodium chloride – salt – is safe.).”  The company said that any formaldehyde found on its product would be in tiny amounts and a result of the manufacturing process and would be “actually less than what is found in indoor air.”

Procter & Gamble denies that there is any danger from the product and adds “In fact, no ingredients in Magic Eraser are subject to any health-related labeling laws in North America or in the European Union.”
ScotchBrite Easy Eraser
The text of the eRumor about a mother’s experience with the ScotchBrite Easy Eraser is authentic.  It’s a first-hand account from the woman who runs a website named Kerflop.  Don’t know if that’s her last name but her first name is Jessica and the text of the eRumor is posted on her site.  The incident took place in 2006.
She describes how her son (picture below) got “large, shiny, blistering red marks… across his cheeks and chin” from apparently rubbing a ScotchBrite Easy Eraser on his face.  She got advice over the phone from a poison center, which told her that products like the Easy Eraser and Magic Eraser “…have a pH of 8 – 10 and can cause chemical burns.”  They gave her first-aid instructions.  She then took her son to a hospital for treatment.  It is her contention that the product contained “a harmful alkaline or “base” chemical (opposite of acid on the pH scale) that can burn your skin.”  She describes his injuries as “chemical burns.”
We have not found any experts who would agree with the comment from the poison control center that a pH of 8 – 10 can cause chemical burns.”  The pH scale measures the range of acidity on one hand and alkalinity on the other.  The scale ranges from 0 to 14. At the 0 end is solutions that are very acidic.  Lemon juice is about a 2, vinegar is around 3,. Pure water has a neutral pH of 7, which is and some soaps range up to a pH of 9.
Although her story is about ScotchBrite’s Easy Eraser, she makes reference to the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser as well and notes that the original packaging of each did not include any warnings of harm from their use on the skin.

The 3M company’s Material Safety Data Sheet shows that the product is made of polyurethane foam and melamine foam.  No other chemicals are listed.

The sheet does indicate that there can be “mechanical abrasion” and Kerflop says that in January she got a note from 3M that said: “We have addressed the issue and are taking steps to change the packaging to warn other consumers of the potential reaction to using the product on the skin.”
Updated 7/25/07