11 Harmful Chemicals in Your Child’s Clothing & How to Avoid Them

Many fabrics used for clothing are coated with toxins to create stain, fire and wrinkle resistance.  Dyes, inks and pesticides are also found and contribute to the vulnerability of developing brains and body systems.

FORMALDEHYDE
This carcinogen can be found in some permanent-press and fire-retardant clothing, including children’s polyester sleepwear up to size 14.  It is also found in some fabric softeners.  It is known to cause upper airway cancer, leukemia, respiratory illness and asthma.

PERFLUOROCARBONS
PFCs can be found in stain-resistant fabrics because they repel oil.  They cause liver, pancreatic, testicular and mammary gland tumors in lab animals and thyroid cancer in rats.

FLAME RETARDANTS
PBDEs are industrial toxic chems that have been used for more than 30 years to retard fire in mattresses and children’s sleepwear.  They have been detected in blood, breastmilk and umbilical cord blood.  Exposed lab animals show learning and memory deficits and affected thyroid levels.  They may cause birth defects.

COBALT
Used in many blue dyes, it is one of the most commonly used substances in products.  Cobalt was found in pigments and inks of baby feeding bibs sold by two major retailers.  It has also been used in the textiles of footwear.  Traces of cobalt have been found in the urine of nearly all children and adults tested in the US, according to the CDC.  Those working with cobalt were found to develop asthma, lung disease, cancer and fertility issues.

ETHYLENE GLYCOL
This industrial solvent was reportedly used in more than 1000 products, a few being bibs, dolls and fancy dress costumes.  It can also be an ingredient in diaper ointment.  Breathing it for long periods can irritate airways.  The kidneys are most vulnerable when exposed to ethylene glycol and harms animal fetuses at high doses.

PHTHALATES
These are not just found in hard plastics, they have also been identified in textiles using PVC.  They can also be used as adhesives, dyes or inks.  Animal studies show adverse effects on the liver, kidney, and male and female reproductive systems.

HEAVY METALS
Carcinogens such as chrome, copper and zinc are often used in conventional fabric dyes, says OTA spokesperson Sandra Marquardt.  The most toxic part of clothing comes from fabric treatments.  Exposure to heavy metals is known to cause neurological issues in children.

PESTICIDES & INSECTICIDES
Used on cotton fields in 25 countries, more than 10% of the world’s insecticides and 25% of pesticides were used in cotton production.  These chemicals have long been known to harm people, wildlife and the environment.

PETROCHEMICALS
Children’s clothing made from synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are made from petrochemicals that have significant environmental impacts.  Petrochemicals create greenhouse gas, cause cancer and are hormone disruptors.

SULFURIC ACID
This chemical is used to create fabrics such as rayon.  Rayon is made from wood pulp which is then treated with sulfuric acid.  Sulfuric acid is considered a potetial skin, organ and muscular-skeletal toxicant by the National Institutes of Health.

SODIUM POLYACRYLATE
This chemical is found in mass marketed disposable diapers, specifically in the gel core.  Anderson Laboratories found that mice exposed to the chemicals emitted by conventional disposables had asthma-like reactions. Their manufacture also involves chlorine.

I find it annoying that parents even have to think about this stuff.  However, it’s out there and unfortunately we are responsible for educating ourselves about it in order to protect our kiddos.  Children are especially susceptible to these chemicals and have three times the risk factor of adults.  Their underdeveloped livers are less effective in the metabolism of toxic chems.  Here are some action steps you can take to avoid as many of these offenders as possible:

TAKE ACTION:  Dress your child in clothing that is:
1.)   used
2.)   GOTS Certified (Global Organic Textile Standard)
3.)   Oeko-Tex Standard Certified
4.)   colored with eco-friendly dyes or is undyed
5.)   free of that “new clothing smell”
6.)   made of natural fibers (ex. cloth diapers)

SOURCES
The Scientific American
GreenAmerica.org
TheStir.CafeMom.com
SaferChemicals.org
NaturalNews.com
TheDailyGreen.com
NRDC.org

 
 

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