Is the 14th Street Pier toxic?

The toxic smell at Hoboken’s 14th Street Pier can’t be good!

This past weekend, as the sun beautifully beamed down during a late-summer afternoon – I found myself at the foot of 14th Street Pier, hoping to absorb the NYC views and breezy Hudson River sights.

But I was overcome by a strong, “burning plastic” smell – got a bit queasy, and decided to find a better spot. Apparently I wasn’t the only one – as several Hoboken411 readers mentioned it, including Bonnie, who took it one step further and did some research.

Another cheap construction job with health & safety hazards?

“Hopefully you can share my comments with other readers. I’m interested to know if anyone else has noticed that the 14th street pier smells like melting plastic? I know this sounds odd, but I hadn’t been there in a while and I was recently very sickened by the smell. Especially in the hot weather and daylight, the odor is so strong. How do people jog out there or relax with a bite to eat?

I don’t know much about decking but did a little research. The Wikipedia entry for wood plastic composite was helpful, and I learned that this type of decking can slightly deform in extremely hot weather. I also saw that this type of decking might have higher fire hazard properties which now has some code officials alarmed. I couldn’t find anything on the smell, though! I even called Trex, a manufacturer of high-end wood plastic composite decking. Customer service said they have never had any complaint about the smell of their decks. I also looked online and was unable to find much information on the internet that validates the smell I notice. But I know I’m not imagining it.

This then leads me to wonder: what the heck is this pier made of, and why is it so unique that it does stink when others apparently don’t?

I could only find one solution. This dock could be PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and as it gets older it may have a tendency to emit an odor. It also has a tendency to warp in high temperatures, which I also noticed in several places. I didn’t find any information stating that the odor could be dangerous, but the fumes can’t be good to breathe. Hopefully this will only be an issue on hot summer days, and hopefully the fumes and the buckling don’t pose any serious dangers. Otherwise it won’t make waiting for the ferry or jogging very enjoyable or safe.

One thing that I’m afraid it’s safe to say is that in Hoboken we can rest assured it’s probably made of the cheapest stuff they could find. Heck, maybe the contractor even swapped the good stuff we actually paid for with some cheap stuff made in China.

Has anyone else noticed this smell?”

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011 4:06 pm

Perhaps the Hob. Bd. of Health should be notified and air sampling taken to determine any health risks. 💡

The Professor
The Professor
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 3:00 pm

There is a smell for sure. I walked out there recently and had to turn around. I felt suffocated by fumes when my intent was to breathe in the fresh breeze off the river. Who is responsible for this pier?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 1:46 pm

I’ve smelled it too, and would never expect a straight answer from those responsible if there’s truly something wrong.

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