Ah, the urban legend. We got an email from a reader concerning an email forward that has been floating around for awhile. It reads like most urban legend stories, a warning about the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and a similar product by ScotchBrite. Our reader figured the story was untrue, and writes that she didn’t think the Magic Eraser could possibly have those kinds of chemicals in it, that the email forward suggests.
So I did some researching and I found this urban legend page. This contains the text of the email that our reader received, although some little details have been changed or left out. It seems that the Magic Eraser debacle is partly true. It originates from a blog posting by Jessica at Kerflop. Here is what she has to say about the situation. Because she requests that pictures and the text of the forwarded email not be posted, I have opted not to post the full text of what was received. However, you can go to the above links and read for yourself.
The crux of the matter is no, the Magic Eraser does not contain harmful chemicals. It is made of melamine. The PH factor of the pads is between 8 and 10, which is alkaline enough to cause “base chemical burns”, but that is pretty mild. The Urban Legend page says “for example, Milk of Magnesia has a pH of 10, and soapy water has a pH of 12”.
Jessica says in this final update (filled with lots of great science-y info for you science geeks out there) “Again, whatever happened – whether it was the abrasiveness, a chemical reaction, the pH, whatever, the injury looked like a burn and an abrasion combined.” The good news is, her kid is fine now, and that’s what is really important.
So, if you receive an email forward about the Magic Clean Erasers, you know where to send the senders. Here, or else over to Jessica’s place. Or the Urban Legend page. Or, well, you know. Wherever.