Archive for July, 2016

New technology can be dangerous, regardless of what time frame you’re living in; it’s untested, and there’s generally only one way to find out what downsides come with whatever convenience that a new appliance has to offer. After years of use, here’s some information about appliances that were originally accepted with open arms, and then discovered to be horribly dangerous.

fridgeWhile the refrigerator is one of the most important inventions in the history of household appliances, some crucial improvements have been made since 1913 to ensure that they’re helping more than they’re hurting. Back when they were a fledgling technology, refrigerators used ether, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, methyl formate, and other toxic gases to cool food. These gasses, which could corrode eyes, explode, and otherwise threaten the health of any human, were fine if they were kept encapsulated as the design necessitated. However, if a pipe eroded or there was some kind of rupture in the tank where these gasses were kept, entire families could suffer fatal injuries. This eventually led to the use of Freon gas as the standard cooler for refrigerators, which while healthy for humans has since turned out to be bad for the environment.


antique toasterOld fashioned toasters were also fairly dangerous; the coils that conducted heat were made of iron wires that melted easily and constituted a major fire hazard. Nowadays toaster coils are made of Nichrome, a mixture of nickel and chromium that is usually implemented in an 80/20 proportion, respectively.

Up until 1989, standard hair dryers would commonly blow asbestos directly into the faces of their users. Asbestos is made up of tiny particles that hang in the air and are easily inhaled by humans, but difficult for lungs to expel. When the particles are trapped in a person’s lungs, it can cause mesothelioma. When manufacturers like Conair and General Electric learned of the risks that their products were causing, there was a large-scale recall of the hairdryers in 19079. However, only about one sixth of the asbestos hairdryers sold were ever recovered, implying plenty of people just went on using theirs.

wringerWringer washers were also among the most dangerous appliances to ever have enjoyed widespread use. In the 1960’s before spin cycles became popular, clothes washers required a giant set of rolling pins called a wringer to squeeze excess water out of newly cleaned clothing. The large device exerted 800 pounds of pressure on the fabric that it ingested, as well as the many fingers and body parts that inevitably ended up inside the machine as well. Often there weren’t on-off switches, so if people got body parts stuck in the machine or any of its exposed gears, they would have to try to pull the power cord out of its socket.

Finally, in 1952 Sears put out a product that was as dangerous to the environment as it was to the home: the Kenmore Indoor Garbage Burner. By employing a set up where smoke was exhausted outdoors, garbage could be burned anywhere within the home. This appliance, which offered buyers the possibility to “save steps by on-the-spot disposal,” costed only $39.88.