Is Tape Toxic? Duct Tape, Electrical Tape and Scotch Tape

is tape toxic
This post may have affiliate links. Please see my disclosure.

With so many people, and of course children, using tape is it really safe to use and which tape is the safest?

Remember there can be differences between the brands of tapes and this article is created as a general guideline only.

Please contact the manufacture of the tape you are enquiring about for specifics regarding the adhesives and other chemicals used. Most manufacturer sites will also have product data sheets with all the technical specifications of the tapes.

Is Duct Tape Toxic?

Short answer: Not under normal usage.

Duct tape is made up of three layers with the top layer being a plastic called polyethylene, the middle is a fabric mesh, and the bottom layer is a rubber based with pressure sensitive adhesive.

Polyethylene is specifically a clear or white, solid, plastic made by reacting molecules with ethylene gas.

Polyethylene is used in a wide variety of products we use everyday including cosmetics,oral care agents, packaging, and much more.

People are exposed to polyethylene on a daily basis leading to the question of is duct tape is toxic?

After a careful evaluation of a human toxicological data involving polyethylene, it shows that the product poses a very low risk under intended use.

Meaning using duct tape and other products containing polyethylene is safe.

However, those who work in a processing plant processing polyethylene could be exposing themselves to eye, skin, and respiratory system irritation due to the hot molten materials being used.

When burned, it can produce poisonous fumes. But there are no reported hospitalization cases.


One of the most common uses of duct tapes is plantar warts removal from the skin.

The process involves a squared duct tape being placed on the wart for a long period of time.

It works by cutting off oxygen to the wart, therefore, killing the wart tissue which falls off.

Before attempting the method, you should consult your doctor since the adhesive substances contained in the duct tape can cause irritations.


If used in an improper way, duct tape can be extremely dangerous. Its sealant nature can prevent both moisture and air from entering the area.

Therefore the tape can pose a suffocation risk when placed over a person’s nose or mouth.

Moreover, Ingesting duct tape can cause respiratory problems since the adhesives may block the airways.

Ensure that you have properly disposed duct tapes remnants and in addition, you should keep them out of reach of children.


According to research performed by Mesothelioma Resource Center in the year 2007, a number of companies were producing and selling tapes that contained asbestos.

Since then, most adhesive tapes producing companies have eliminated the ingredient from the tapes they produce. However, dangers may arise if you get the older duct tape rolls containing asbestos.

Asbestos can cause respiratory problems to people exposed to it for longer periods of time. Some other health issues that it causes include lung cancer, and asbestosis.

The tapes containing asbestos were usually white whilst the newer ones are silver and therefore identifying them is an easy task.

Skin Suffocation

Similar to the respiratory ashphyxiation, covering any part of your body with the tape can lead to oxygen supply cutoff to the skin pores and in some cases it can pose a serious health risk.

For your skin to remain healthy, you have to expose it to oxygen.

If over 80% of your body is covered in non-breathable material, there can be a danger of becoming unconscious or even death.

In addition, the duct tape application on skin can prevent release of sweat through the skin leading to toxins building up in the body.

Is Electrical Tape Toxic?

Short answer: Not under normal usage.

Although electrical tape can be made of many different plastics, vinyl or vinyl pvc is widely used and is the most popular due to its long lasting insulation.

This can be one of the most toxic forms of tape depending on what type of exposure you have and for what duration of time.

After you use electrical tape you should wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes or mouth.

Is Scotch Tape Toxic?

Short answer: Not under normal usage.

The Scotch Brand Scotch tape was invented with a clear adhesive known as Cellophane. Cellophane is known as a transparent thin sheet made up of regenerating cellulose.

The best thing about cellulose is it is found in plant cell walls and vegetable fibers such as cotton.

It is the polysaccharide that consists of chains of the glucose monomers. Scotch tape is one of the most non-toxic and green living tape available.

There is one part of Scotch tape that is toxic however and that is the adhesive

The creation process of cellophane is not toxic.

Overall Scotch Tape is one of the best tapes on the market, so ideal for household use and schools.

General Advice About Handling Tape

As far as day to day use goes, tape is pretty safe however as a precaution it always pays to wash your hands thoroughly after use.

WARNING: Burning tape will often result in poisonous fumes, do not burn tape.

If you, or anyone you know, gets ill or feels sick after handling tape, seek medical help.

The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or 000 immediately.

How Duct Tape is Made
Duct tape product datasheet
Electrical tape product datasheet
Image Credit

17 Comments on “Is Tape Toxic? Duct Tape, Electrical Tape and Scotch Tape”

  1. Hello. I came upon your site to find something that is suddenly bothered me but I cannot find it anywhere. I have a resealable bag of chicken tenders That I store in the freezer. When I once opened the plastic bag so that I could get some chicken tenders for supper one evening, I accidentally tore a hole in the bag in the process of doing so. So I used adhesive scotch tape (the type used to wrap Christmas presents and such) to patch and seal the torn sides of the bag together in a way so that the chicken tenders would not touch the tape but it touches the outer walls of the bag that are kept together by the tape. Was this a good idea, or would it in any way harm the chicken and other foods I have in the freezer?

  2. so i decided to be either incredibly smart or insanely stupid because im using duck tape to seal up some of the holes on my strainer to steam caloflower if you guys want to warn me to not do this because i could die let me know now or forever let me die

  3. I have sleep apnea and use a breathing machine every night. It’s important to keep my mouth closed, so I have been sealing it shut with electrical tape. Lately I have been having heart palpitations whenever I walk, and get out of breath easily. Have I poisoned myself?

    1. I would recommend you see a Doctor, as we don’t have the medical knowledge to answer your question. Let us know how it goes.

  4. What chemicals are in the bottom layer, rubber based, pressure sensitive adhesive in ducktape and are they all non-toxic?

    1. It would be best not to use duct tape on a baking pan. The further away from food you can keep glue and tape the better as a general rule.

  5. My husband used duct tape to fix a large plastic straw that he used with a big plastic bottle that he fills with water when he goes to the gym. Is it safe to drink the water that the duct tape is soaking in for at least two hours?

      1. My mistake. I just found out it is electrical tape instead. Is this worse than the duct tape as he thinks there is nothing wrong with his use of it on the straw. He gets a lot of headaches. Could this be a contributing factor?

        1. Electrical tape is more waterproof than duct tape, but to be honest, if it was me I would keep all tapes (and even plastics) far away from my drinking water. Buy him a new bottle for Christmas. How about a Hydro flask? Stainless steel and BPA free. You can check them out here and this is not an affiliate link, just a link to their website.

  6. From your article:

    “The Scotch Brand Scotch tape was invented with a clear adhesive known as Cellophane.

    Scotch tape is one of the most non-toxic and green living tape available.

    There is one part of Scotch tape that is toxic however and that is the adhesive.”

    Seems like somewhat of a contradiction…

    1. Thanks for your comment. I don’t agree it is a contradiction.

      It is like saying dolphins are one of the most intelligent species on the planet.. there is one part of a dolphins intelligence that is not that smart and that ends up with them getting beached on shore sometimes.

      Sometimes you just have to say it how it is….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.