Chemicals Pervade Our Lives


“Unacceptable levels is powerful. It tells the story of toxic chemicals in just every aspect of our lives, and the egregious lack of regulation. Our ability to protect our families is a at stake” – Joan Blades


Chemicals Pervade Our Life

EWG (Environmental Working Group) a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment with a mission to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Body burden of chemicals: Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York collaborated with the Environmental Working Group and Commonweal for a study and researchers at two major laboratories found 167 chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in the blood and urine of nine adult Americans. Study results appear in a published edition of the journal Public Health Reports (Thornton, et al. 2002) – the first publicly available, comprehensive look at the chemical burden we carry in our bodies. None of the nine volunteers work with chemicals on the job. All lead healthy lives. Yet the subjects contained an average of 91 compounds – most of which did not exist 75 years ago.

Below is the list of chemicals found and are linked to serious health problems

Health Effect or Body System Affected Number of chemicals found in 9 people tested that are linked to the listed health impact
Average number found in 9 people Total found in all 9 people Range
(lowest and highest number found in all 9 people)
cancer [1] 53 76 [2] 36 to 65
birth defects / developmental delays 55 79 [3] 37 to 68
vision 5 11 [4] 4 to 7
hormone system 58 86 [5] 40 to 71
stomach or intestines 59 84 [6] 41 to 72
kidney 54 80 [7] 37 to 67
brain, nervous system 62 94 [8] 46 to 73
reproductive system 55 77 [9] 37 to 68
lungs/breathing 55 82 [10] 38 to 67
skin 56 84 [11] 37 to 70
liver 42 69 [12] 26 to 54
cardiovascular system or blood 55 82 [13] 37 to 68
hearing 34 50 [14] 16 to 47
immune system 53 77 [15] 35 to 65
male reproductive system 47 70 [16] 28 to 60
female reproductive system 42 61 [17] 24 to 56

Source: Environmental Working Group compilation
References: Health Effects

Read the full alarming report here

The chemicals found are linked with cancer, immune system, brain, nervous system, reproductive system and hormone system.

Scientists refer to the chemical exposure documented here as an individual’s “body burden” – the consequence of lifelong exposure to industrial chemicals that are used in thousands of consumer products and linger as contaminants in air, water, food, and soil.

KEMI is a Swedish chemicals agency and a supervisory authority under the Ministry of the Environment in Sweden and work in the EU and internationally to develop legislation and other initiatives to promote good health and improved environment.

In 2014, KEMI did a screening study with the aim to identify hazardous substances/groups of substances posing a potential risk to human health and the environment and below is (part of) the results they found:

  • Approximately 3500 textile-related substances were identified; More than 2000 of these substances have not been fully registered under REACH (a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals) About 1000 substances are expected to be confidential in REACH registrations.
  • Approximately ten percent of the textile-related substances analyzed here are identified to be of high potential concern for human health.
  • Five percent of the number of textile related substances to be of high potential concern for the environment.
  • Substances of high potential concern for human health mainly include direct and acid type azo dyes and fragrances.
  • Many flame retardants and plasticizers were identified as having concern for human health due to exposure via fiber loss/ dust.
  • Acid and direct type azo dyes were also identified as substances of high potential concern for the environment.

Click on the picture to learn more

It is important to note here that the majority, approximately 80%, of the textile articles consumed in the EU are imported from a non- EU country. Similar is the case in United States.

Textiles expels lots of effluent into our water system too. The 40,000 to 50,000 tons of synthetic dyestuffs expelled into our rivers are complex chemical formulations containing some things that are very toxic to us, such as heavy metals (like lead, mercury, chromium, zinc, cobalt and copper), benzene and formaldehyde. 

Chemicals used in the production of textiles can remain in the final clothing product as minor contaminant amounts, and clothing may also contain substances formed by degradation. Other chemicals are intentionally added to textile articles in order to provide a specified function, such as color or easy-care. Chemicals in textile materials may be released from clothing and expose humans and the environment. Textile articles are used in a way that both consumers and the environment can be exposed to chemicals released from the clothing.

Below are some heavy metals found in toxic dyes, and the harms they cause to human body:

Chromium:

Necessary for insulin activity and an essential trace metal; at toxic levels it causes squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

 

 

 

Cadmium: 

Extremely toxic to humans because of its inhibition of various enzyme systems; primary target organ is the kidney; but also causes lung cancer; also causes testicular damage and male sterility. Plants readily absorb cadmium from the soil so it easily enters food chain. Chronic exposure is associated with renal disease.

Sodium chloride (salt):

Not toxic in small doses but the industry uses this in such high volumes it becomes an environmental hazard

 

 

Toluene: 

Affects the central nervous system; symptoms range from slight drowsiness, fatigue and headaches, to irritation of the respiratory tract, mental confusion and incoordination; higher concentrations can result in unconsciousness and death.  Prolonged contact can cause dermatitis.  Teratogenic, embryo toxic.

Mercury:

Easily absorbed through skin or inhalation of dust which contains residue; affects the immune system alerts genetic systems, damages the nervous system. Particularly damaging to developing embryos. Which are 5 to 10 times more sensitive than adults.

Lead:

Easily absorbed through skin or inhalation of dust which contains residue. Impacts nervous system. Even low level of lead can reduce IQ, stunt growth and cause behavior problems.

Copper:

Fatigue, insomnia, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, migraine headaches, seizures. Mental disorders include depression, anxiety, mood swings, phobias, panic attacks and attention deficit disorders.

 

 

 

 

 

Benzene: 
Highly carcinogenic, linked to all types of leukemia but believed to cause the rarer forms (acute myelogenous leukemis (AML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL); effects the bone marrow and decrease of red blood cells, leading to anemia, excessive bleeding and/or immune system dysfunction. Low levels cause rapid heart rate, dizziness, headaches, tremors, confusion.  Easily absorbed by skin.

Many consumers might think that chemicals used in the daily products they use as shampoo, detergents etc. are tested but they are wrong.  Unlike pharmaceuticals or pesticides, industrial chemicals do not have to be tested before they are put on the market.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, and Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, introduced a bill called the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, which would require the chemical industry to demonstrate that a chemical is safe in order for it to be sold. Later that year Senator Frank passed away. A bipartisan group of senators, lead by Senator Cory Booker, picked up where the late U.S. senator left off. Legislation will require all the chemicals in use to be examined to make sure they are safe for public use and prohibit the new chemicals from reaching the market until they are proven to be non-toxic.  .

In 2016, Congress finally took action to better protect our health by adopting far-reaching reforms of TSCA. After years of debate and inaction, on June 22, 2016, President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – a new law that fixes the biggest problems with the old law.

The Lautenberg Act gives EPA the tools necessary to ensure the safety of chemicals and significantly strengthen health protections for American families. Notably, the law:

  • Mandates safety reviews for chemicals in active commerce.
  • Requires a safety finding for new chemicals before they can enter the market.
  • Replaces TSCA’s burdensome cost-benefit safety standard—which prevented EPA from banning asbestos—with a pure, health-based safety standard.
  • Explicitly requires protection of vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women.
  • Gives EPA enhanced authority to require testing of both new and existing chemicals.
  • Sets aggressive, judicially enforceable deadlines for EPA decisions.
  • Makes more information about chemicals available, by limiting companies’ ability to claim information as confidential, and by giving states and health and environmental professionals access to confidential information they need to do their jobs

See here for a detailed analysis of the law. 

This is good news for public health and safety, if the system works well and fast. Let’s hope this law helps consumers to have safer daily use products.

Good Riddance of Bad Chemicals.

Resources:

https://www.edf.org/health/policy/chemicals-policy-reformhttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/sunday-review/think-those-chemicals-have-been-tested.html?_r=1
http://www.ewg.org/sites/bodyburden1/findings.php

http://www.ewg.org/sites/bodyburden1/findings.php

image: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/adidas-needs-to-earn-its-stripes-by-championi/blog/36451/

Image: Pixabay

Protect Your Future

 


Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see – Neil Postman


We as adults, eat and wear whatever we want but we cannot do the same for kids. It’s our responsibility to feed them healthy and clothe them safely. We don’t want kids to be wrapped up in chemical filled clothes. But if we are not conscious, we might be covering them with chemical induced clothes. Lot of parents don’t even know that clothes have health damaging chemicals.

We must be cautious with what we expose our children to. Our world has turned from nature as a source of everything from food and medicine to clothing and almost everything in between. Man-made alternatives offer benefits in many situations, but come with a cost to the environment, and ultimately to our health.

Our children today live in an environment that is fundamentally different from that of 50 years ago. In many ways, their world is better. In many ways, they’re healthier than ever before.  Thanks to safe drinking water, wholesome food, decent housing, vaccines, and antibiotics, our children lead longer, healthier lives than the children of any previous generation.  The traditional infectious diseases have largely been eradicated. Infant mortality is greatly reduced. The expected life span of a baby born in the United States is more than two decades longer than that of an infant born in 1900.

Yet certain childhood problems are on the increase: asthma is now the leading cause of school absenteeism for children 5 to 17; birth defects are the leading cause of death in early infancy; developmental disorders (ADD, ADHD, autism, dyslexia and mental retardation) are reaching epidemic proportions – 1 in 88 children is now diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  Childhood leukemia and brain cancer has increased sharply, while type 2 diabetes, previously unknown among children, is on the increase.  And the cost is staggering – a few childhood conditions (lead poisoning, cancer, developmental disabilities –including autism and ADD – and asthma) accounted for 3% of total U.S. health care spending in the U.S.  “The environment has become a major part of childhood disease” as per Time magazine in a report.

Today’s children face hazards that were neither known nor imagined a few decades ago. Children are at risk of exposure to thousands of new synthetic chemicals which are used in an astonishing variety of products, from gasoline, medicines, glues, plastics and pesticides to cosmetics, cleaning products, electronics, fabrics, and food. Since World War II, more than 80,000 new chemicals have been invented.

To protect kids from harmful chemicals in food, we can go organic and look for USDA seal to make sure it is certified.

How about clothes?

Name a thing that is in direct touch of our skin most of the time? You are correct, clothes. Our clothes can help heal our skin. In other words, we need healthy clothes to help our skin heal.

The clothing we wear can affect our well-being.  Plastic and synthetic clothes can make our skin sick. It is not just the fiber of the cloth that matters; industry has generated various ways to top the fiber with dangerous, toxic and unhealthy chemicals. They come hidden in synthetic dyes and chemicals finishes. Common allergic skin reactions are caused by the formaldehyde, finishing resins, dyes, glues, chemical additives, tanning agents and fire retardants that are used in today’s modern clothing production.

DearmNet, a New Zealand based trust run by dermatologists explains, “Textile Contact Dermatitis” is inflammation of the skin induced by chemicals that directly damage the skin and by specific sensitivity in the case of allergic contact dermatitis.

Synthetic chemicals can enter our children’s bodies by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. Infants are at risk of exposure in the womb or through breast milk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200 high-volume synthetic chemicals can be found in the bodies of nearly all Americans, including newborn infants.  Of the top 20 chemicals discharged to the environment, nearly 75 percent are known or suspected to be toxic to the developing human brain.

We also now know that time of exposure is critical – because during gestation and through early childhood the body is rapidly growing under a carefully orchestrated process that is dependent on a series of events.  When one of those events is interrupted, the next event is disrupted and so on until permanent and irreversible changes result. These results could be very subtle like an alteration in how the brain develops which subsequently impacts, for example, learning ability.  Or it could result in other impacts like modifying the development of an organ predisposing it to cancer later in life.

Our skin and body is not designed for toxic clothes. Low-allergy clothes are always made of organic, natural fibers with low impact dyes. Organically made 100% natural fiber clothes heal our skin. They have to be free from toxic processing though. Learn more.

Remember, designer or luxury clothes is not a solution to this problem. An investigation by Greenpeace International has found a broad range of hazardous chemicals in children’s clothing and footwear produced by eight luxury fashion brands. Read more.

What you can do?:

  1. Just say no to sandals, shoes, boots or rain-gear made entirely or predominantly from rubber- or plastic-like materials. Keep an eye out when shopping for shoes treated with anti-microbial chemicals.
  2. Rid wardrobes of garments screen printed with plastisol, the thick, rubbery material used to create slightly raised designs and logos.
  3. Don’t purchase clothing promising stain-resistant, waterproof, or odor-fighting performance, technologies which utilize toxic chemicals.
  4. Steer clear of polyester, which frequently contains traces of antimony.
  5. Stick to natural fiber clothing, preferably organic.
  6. Don’t add insult to injury. Wash clothing in plant-based detergent without synthetic fragrance, which can contain hormone disrupting chemicals. And skip the fragrant dryer sheets.

It does not end here. The textile industry uses more than 8,000 chemicals to make the 400 billion m2 of fabric sold annually around the world. Many are toxic and persist in the environment. They include heavy-metal-rich dyes and fixing agents, bleaches, solvents, and detergents.

Making textiles is also a water-intensive business. Producing a pair of jeans requires about 1,800 gal of water; a T-shirt takes 700 gal. Treating such large volumes of waste water is costly—if it is treated at all. All toxic chemicals cannot be treated and end up into our fresh water ways which is causing pollution all over the textile manufacturing countries. Read more

Pollution also can occur after clothing leaves the factory. Outdoor gear is often stain- and waterproofed with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), but these additives can detach during use. The PFCs or their breakdown products end up in the environment where they can be persistent, bioaccumulative, and carcinogenic hazards.

Keep yourself up to what’s going on around you and keep learning. Don’t let dark side of modernization damage your health. Just by wearing safe and eating safe, you will not only protect your kids and your health but save our planet from polluting. Let’s keep our planet earth safe for our kids.

Watch here– A film about chemicals in our body and how they got there.

Resources:

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/toxics/2014/A-Fashionable-Lie.pdf

https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/author/oecotextiles/

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=42

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsInfantDeaths/

Boyle, Coleen A., et al, “Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U.S. children, 1997-2008”, Pediatrics,  February, 2011.

Grady, Denise, “Obesity-Linked Diabetes in children Resists Treatment”, New York Times, April 29, 2012

Walsh, Bryan, “Environmental Toxins Cost Billions in childhood Disease”, Time, May 4, 2011.

Koger, Susan M, et al, “Environmental Toxicants and Developmental Disabilities”,  American Psychologist, April 2005, Vol 60, No. 3, 243-255

Polluting Our Future, September 2000, http://www.aaidd.org/ehi/media/polluting_report.pdf

Main Image: Pixabay

What is Certipur?


“Apparently, if you live until 75, you’ll have spent 25 years in bed, so it makes sense to have a decent mattress” – Marc Warren


Once upon a time, household dust was just a nuisance. Today, however, house dust represents a time capsule of all the chemicals that enter people’s homes. This includes particles created from the breakdown of polyurethane foam. From sofas and chairs, to shoes and carpet underlay, sources of polyurethane dust are plentiful.  Organotin compounds are one of the chemical groups found in household dust that have been linked to polyurethane foam. Highly poisonous, even in small amounts, these compounds can disrupt hormonal and reproductive systems, and are toxic to the immune system. Early life exposure has been shown to disrupt brain development.

There was  no way before 2008 for consumers to find out what was inside foam used in bedding and upholstered furniture. The CertiPUR-US® program provides information whether the flexible polyurethane foam meets standards for content, emissions and durability and are analyzed by independent, accredited laboratories. As a result, foam producers from all countries today participate in this program, as long as they meet rigorous certification guidelines.

If you buy a CertiPUR-US certified mattress or upholstery furniture, you can rest assured about below facts:

  • Made without ozone depleters.  The CertiPUR label prohibits the use of any CFCs or other ozone depleters in the foam manufacturing process.
  • Made without PBDE flame retardants.  This has just recently been increased (as of October 25, 2016) to include other flame retardants such as pentaBDE, octaBDE , decaBDE, TRIS, TDCPP and TEPA.
  • Made without mercury, lead or other heavy metals.    Heavy metals are not commonly used to make polyurethane foam.
  • Made without formaldehyde.
  • Made without phthalates.  Of 29 possible phthalates, CertiPUR prohibits seven.
  • Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality.

The certification process was developed by the foam industry in close collaboration with leading environmentalists, chemists, accredited laboratory research scientists, and bedding and furniture industry leaders. CertiPUR-US emissions and analysis methods are compatible with other standards such as Eco-label (EU), LGA (Germany), OkoTex 100 (Class IV Mattress) EUI, Blue Angel (Netherlands), IKEA, AQS Greenlabel and BIFMA criteria.

Here is list of Certi-PUR participating companies.

If you are thinking you are safe from chemicals while sleeping, you might wanna check your mattress, bed sheets, pillows and mattress covers. Who knows what are you inhaling while sleeping, unless it is certified.

It is so important to find a safe mattress for your babies. They spend most of the time sleeping and immune system works hardest in the night. You want their sleeping environment to be fresh, clean and safe.

100 years back everything you bought was close to nature, food, clothes, mattress and upholstery. What an irony, crops for food and products for manufacturing have to go through a rigorous certification to prove it is not harmful. This use to be a normal thing before, but not anymore. Kind of sad.

Please be careful and don’t get fooled by the industry and ruin your and your kids health by bringing harmful products in your home.

To stay healthy, check the health of food and products you buy. Every day. Buy less, pay more but buy safe. Use it thorough. Recycle it.

Get yourself educated about anything and everything that can affect your health. If possible, involve kids in this process and teach them how to buy healthy. They will thank you one day.

Eat Safe, wear safe and sleep safe.

References:

https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com

http://certipur.us/

 

Invisible Plastic


“Chemicals from plastics are a constant part of our daily diet. We generally assume the water bottle holding that pure spring water, the microwave-safe plastic bowl we prepare our meals in, or the styrofoam cup holding a hot drink is there protecting our food and drinks. Rather than acting as a completely inert barrier, these plastics are breaking down and leaching chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting plasticizers like BPA or phthalates, flame retardants, and even toxic heavy metals that are all absorbed into our diets and bodies” – Scott Belcher, Ph.D. Research Professor, North Carolina State University


Plastic is everywhere. Phone in your pocket, sole on your shoes, food in the refrigerator, clothes you wear, furnishing in your home, contacts in your eyes, inside your car, and now, in tap water too. It’s a plastic invasion. We have definitely entered into a plastic age. If it’s so much around us, it goes inside us too as we inhale, eat and drink. Now that’s a matter of serious concern.

A report published in The Guardian in September 2017 states that microplastic contamination has been found in tap water in countries around the world. Tap water samples from more than a dozen nations were analyzed by scientists for an investigation by Orb Media and 83% of the samples were found contaminated with plastic fibers. Bottled water may not provide a microplastic-free alternative to tap water, as it was also found in a few samples of commercial bottled water tested in the United States for Orb. The rates of contamination in tap water are as high as 94% in USA, 72% In Europe, 76% in Indonesia, Jakarta,  82% In New Delhi, India, 94% in Lebanon, Beirut and 81% In Uganda.

“This should knock us into our senses. We knew that this plastic is coming back to us through our food chain. Now we see it is coming back to us through our drinking water. Do we have a way out?” – Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Grameen Bank

ORB found 16 fibers in the tap water at the visitor’s center in the U.S. Capitol, home to both houses of congress.

Sherri A. Mason, PhD., Chair, Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences (The State University of New York at Fredonia) says “There are certain commons that connect us all to each other, air, water, soil, and what we have universally found time and time again is if you contaminate any of those commons, it gets in everything”.

Why should you care? Microplastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses, and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals. If fibers are in your water, experts say they’re surely in your food as well – baby formula, pasta, soups and sauces whether from the kitchen or the grocery. It gets worse. Plastic is all but indestructible, meaning plastic waste doesn’t biodegrade; rather it only breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, even down to particles in nanometer scale. Studies show that particles of that size can migrate through the intestinal wall and travel to the lymph nodes and other bodily organs.

This research led Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College London, to tell a UK parliamentary inquiry in 2016: “If we breathe them in they could potentially deliver chemicals to the lower parts of our lungs and maybe even across into our circulation.” Having seen the Orb data, Kelly told the Guardian that research is urgently needed to determine whether ingesting plastic particles is a health risk.

Know your Plastics:

  1. PET: polyethylene terephthalate.

PET is commonly used in commercially sold water bottles, soft drink bottles, sports drink bottles, and condiment bottles (like ketchup). While it is generally considered a “safe” plastic, and does not contain BPA, in the presence of heat it can leach antimony, a toxic metalloid, into food and beverages, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ulcers. Some studies have shown up to 100 times the amount of antimony in bottled water than in clean groundwater. The longer the bottle is on the shelf or exposed to heat or sunshine, the more antimony is likely to have leached into the product.

  1. HDPE: high-density polyethylene.

HDPE is commonly used in milk and juice bottles, detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, grocery bags, and cereal box liners. Like PET, it is also considered “safe,” but has been shown to leach estrogenic chemicals dangerous to fetuses and juveniles.

  1. PVC: polyvinyl chloride.

PVC can be flexible or rigid, and is used for plumbing pipes, clear food packaging, shrink wrap, plastic children’s toys, tablecloths, vinyl flooring, children’s play mats, and blister packs (such as for medicines). PVC contains a phthalate called DEHP, which can cause male traits to become more feminized (DEHP-containing products have been banned in many countries, but not the U.S.). In some products, DEHP has been replaced with another chemical called DiNP, which has similarly been shown to have hormone disruption properties.

  1. LDPE: low-density polyethylene.

LDPE is used for dry cleaning bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, produce bags, and garbage bags, as well as “paper” milk cartons and hot/cold beverage cups. LDPE does not contain BPA, but as with most plastics, it can leach estrogenic chemicals.

  1. PP: polypropylene.

PP is used to make yogurt containers, deli food containers and winter clothing insulation. PP actually has a high heat tolerance and as such, does not seem to leach many of the chemicals other plastics do.

  1. PS: polystyrene.

PS, also popularly known as Styrofoam, is used for cups, plates, take-out containers, supermarket meat trays, and packing peanuts. Polystyrene can leach styrene, a suspected carcinogen, especially in the presence of heat (which makes hot coffee in a Styrofoam container an unwise choice).

  1. Everything else.

Any plastic item not made from the above six plastics is lumped together as a #7 plastic. Any plastic designated #7 is likely to leach BPA and/or BPS, both potent endocrine disruptors linked to interfering with proper mood, growth, development, sexual function, reproductive function, and puberty, among other essential human developmental processes. They are also suspected of increasing the risk of adult reproductive cancers, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

How did it happen? Almost 300m tons of plastic is produced each year and, with just 20% recycled or incinerated, much of it ends up littering the air, land and sea. A report  found 8.3bn tons of plastic has been produced since the 1950s, with the researchers warning that plastic waste has become ubiquitous in the environment.

What is the solution now? Below are suggestions from ORB-

To keep plastic out of the air, water, and soil is to radically rethink its design, uses, sale, and disposal. Here are some ways people around the world are working to change this grim global reality:

  1. Waste-to-Energy turns plastic and organic waste into gas and liquid fuel using a variety of technologies. The global waste-to-energy market is forecast to grow into a USD$33 billion industry by 2023.
  2. In the “Circular Economy”model, manufacturers and designers ensure that packaging and materials can be easily recycled and repurposed. Today, more than half of all plastic packaging can’t be recycled.
  3. New Materials: Leading brands and new startups are working to design synthetic fabrics that won’t shed fibers into the air and water. Bolt Threads, in California, is using proteins from spider silk to create a strong, stretchy fabric they hope will replace synthetic fleece. A Japanese company, Spiber, also plans to serve the outdoor apparel industry through spider silk. Meanwhile, startup NewLight Technologies has created a plastic called Air Carbon from greenhouse gases produced by cattle and landfills instead of from oil.

It is for sure that major shake ups are required to make our planet cleaner. There is no Planet B. We need to start taking steps, in every home, from today.

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-fibres-found-tap-water-around-world-study-reveals

https://orbmedia.org/stories/Invisibles_plastics

https://www.alternet.org/personal-health/toxic-traps-when-these-7-types-plastic-are-dangerous

https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/microplastics-found-in-tap-water/#_ftn1

https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/microplastics-found-in-tap-water/#_ftn1

Photo Credit: Vince Cinches / Greenpeace Philippines

 

21 WAYS TO AVOID CHEMICALS


“The more we pour the big machines, the fuel, the pesticides, the herbicides, the fertilizer and chemicals into farming, the more we knock out the mechanism that made it all work in the first place” – David R. Brower


Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with headquarters in New York, is one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of 675 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals 15 countries around the world.

EDF selected 10 individuals across the country for one week, they wore a novel wristband technology designed to detect chemicals in their environment. These wristbands are increasingly being used in research to better understand how chemical exposures may affect our health.

Here are some results found from the participants:

  • A lieutenant’s (at the Memphis Fire Department in Tennessee) wristband came to detect 16 chemicals including gamma-chlordane, a highly toxic pesticide banned 30 years ago.
  • A College of Wooster student in Ohio was surprised to learn that her wristband detected the fragrance enhancer diethyl phthalate, the preservative benzyl benzoate, and the synthetic fragrance galaxolide. Such chemicals are typically found in lotions, shampoos and other personal care products and have been linked to health effects ranging from skin sensitization to endocrine disruption.
  • A dispatcher living in a big-sky country Montana was eight months pregnant when her wristband picked up phthalates such as DEHP and DBP. These toxicants, which are linked to reproductive toxicity, have been banned in the United States for use in pacifiers, toys and other children’s products – but continue to be legal for many other uses.
  • A pharmacy student’s wristband detected the flame retardants TPP and TCPP, chemicals often added to furniture and other everyday foam products, along with an assortment of other chemicals.
  • A chemical safety specialist at the University of Georgia was alarmed to learn what her wristband picked up: several pesticides and an alphabet soup of phthalate plasticizing chemicals including DEHP, BBP, DEP, DIBP, DBP, DHEXP and di-n-nonyl phthalate.

Read their stories here.

To reduce the load of environmental toxins in our bodies, the first step is to stop putting toxins into our bodies. The two easiest and most effective places to begin are with our diets and our homes. About 90% of our daily toxic intake comes from the air inside of our homes and workplaces, as well as the foods that we eat. Most of us cannot make huge changes in the air at work, but we sure can change the air in our homes. Utilizing high quality pleated air filters that are changed regularly (every 4-8 weeks) is one of the best ways to reduce the toxin presence in our home air, as well as clean out any pollutants brought in from outside the home that may have attached themselves to the dust and fabric within.

There are steps you can take to reduce the amount of pesticides and other dietary contaminants in your family’s food. EWG’s “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides“ can help, and the website contains advice on how to limit your dietary intake of arsenic, which turns up in a variety of foods but primarily rice. You should also be aware of the everyday household chemical exposures that can cause harm.

Here’s a quick reminder of the worst pesticide offenders:

The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. Potatoes Plus: +Green beans +Kale/Greens

There are toxic chemicals all around us. In today’s world it is not possible to be 100% chemical free.

Here are 21 ways to kick chemicals out of our lives:

  1. Eat a diet focused on locally grown, fresh, and ideally organic whole foods. Food that travels thousands of miles loses its nutrient value under different light and temperatures. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of chemicals such as BPA and phthalates. Wash fresh produce well, especially if it’s not organically grown.
  2. Choose grass-pastured, sustainably raised meats and dairy to reduce your exposure to hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
  3. Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity, such as wild caught Alaskan salmon.
  4. Find alternate to plastic. Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans, as chemicals can leach out of plastics (and plastic can linings), into the contents; be aware that even “BPA-free” plastics typically leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad for you as BPA. Never microwave plastics.
  5. Plastic is made out of oil. Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
  1. Use glass baby bottles. Hot foods and drinks don’t go well with plastics. Don’t use plastic straw with hot coffee/drink.
  2. Instead of plastic reusable water bottles, use unlined stainless steel or glass.
  3. Say no thanks to paper receipts—a lot of stores will e-mail your receipt now. (BPA serves as a “developer” in thermal paper receipts. These receipts aren’t actually printed with ink; they’re coated with chemicals that react to heat and change color to create the appearance of printed type.)
  4. Wash your hands frequently and always before you eat. Chemicals in dust or on thermal paper receipts can get on your hands, and you don’t want that stuff in your mouth. It’s the same with your kids—try to wash their hands often throughout the day and always before they eat.
  5. Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware. While you look for replacement turn down heat under non-stick pots.
  6. Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure your filter is certified to remove it. According to the EWG, perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.
  7. Look for products made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic, and GMO-free. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses, and others.
  8. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust. This is one of the major routes of exposure to flame retardant chemicals.
  9. When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses, or carpet padding, consider buying flame retardant free varieties, containing naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, silk, and Kevlar.
  10. Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Avoid wrinkle free clothing as well. They are quoted with chemicals.
  11. Make sure your baby’s toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on — even books, which are often plasticized. It’s advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.
  12. Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.
  13. Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep (click here) database can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
  14. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or glass doors.
  15. Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.
  1. Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds — even thousands — of potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid fabric softeners  and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.

Still time to change the road you are on!

Eat Organic! Wear Organic!

References:

https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com

https://www.edf.org/blog/2017/06/01/which-toxic-chemicals-are-our-daily-life-these-5-people-found-out

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/how-to-avoid-the-chemical_b_2236932.html

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/4-ways-avoid-toxic-chemicals-food-packaging

http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=474

 

Care The Skin You Are In


“Invest in your skin. It is going to represent you for a very long time” – Linden Tyler.


Skin is body’s coat that protects us from cold and warm weathers. Skin keeps our inside in. In 1 inch of skin, you have about 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, 60,000 melanocytes (the stuff that makes melanin and gives your skin its color.), 1,000 or more nerve endings. Skin is our sensor, shield and communicator as well as reflection of external beauty. Every day we lose 1 quart of liquid through sweat. When we exercise we sweat one quart each hour. Now here is the important finding: Skin absorbs 60% of what touches it. Many medications are made into creams, gels or patches. These medications penetrate from skin to the bloodstream and delivered to all body parts.

Martin Fox, Ph.D. author of Healthy Water for Longer Life describes that we absorb more through our skin than through ingesting. In a 15-minute bath, the average adult absorbs 63% of the elements in the water. Drinking 2 liters of water, the absorption rate of elements is only 27%.

Golden rule for best skin care: “If you cannot eat it don’t put on your skin”. This might be next to impossible in today’s world but if you keep it natural, it will stay natural and reward you naturally.

Skin is an important part of our immune system. The skin is the largest organ in the body and its largest eliminative organ too. Skin releases toxins. It matters what you clothe your skin with and what you put on your skin. What goes on the skin, goes in the skin.

In an article published in NY Times on Dec 10, 2010 “When Wrinkle-Free Clothing Also Means Formaldehyde Fumes” reveals the anti wrinkle finish comes from a resin that releases formaldehyde, the chemical that is usually associated with embalming fluids or dissected frogs in biology class. It further states that formaldehyde is commonly found in a broad range of consumer products and can show up in practically every room of the house. The sheets and pillow cases on the bed, the drapes hanging in the living room, the upholstery on the couch. In the bathroom, it can be found in personal care products like shampoos, lotions and eye shadow. It may even be in the baseball cap hanging by the back door.

The biggest potential issue for those wearing wrinkle-resistant clothing can be a skin condition called contact dermatitis. It affects a small group of people and can cause itchy skin, rashes and blisters, according to a recent government study on formaldehyde in textiles. Still, some critics said more studies on a wider array of textiles and clothing chemicals were needed, including a closer look at the effects of cumulative exposure. At the very least, they said, better labeling would help. 

“The textile industry for years has been telling dermatologists that they aren’t using the formaldehyde resins anymore, or the ones they use have low levels,” said Dr. Joseph F. Fowler, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville. “Yet despite that, we have been continually seeing patients who are allergic to formaldehyde and have a pattern of dermatitis on their body that tells us this is certainly related to clothing.

DermNet New Zealand, a New Zealand based trust presents facts about the skin for consumers and professionals on their website DermNetNZ.org. DermNet presents authoritative facts about the skin for consumers and health professionals in New Zealand and throughout the world.  DermNet covers hundreds of illustrated topics about skin diseases and conditions, dermatopathology, treatments and procedures. Trustees are renowned dermatologists.

DermNet throws light on “Textile Contact Dermatitis” and explains that textile fiber can be natural, synthetic or a combination of the two materials. Natural fibers include silk, wood, cotton and linen. Synthetic or man-made fibers include rayon, nylon, polyester, rubber, fiberglass and spandex.

Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin induced by chemicals that directly damage the skin and by specific sensitivity in the case of allergic contact dermatitis.

Allergic skin reactions to clothing is most often a result of the formaldehyde finishing resins, dyes, glues, chemical additives and tanning agents used in processing the fabric or clothing. Cases of allergic contact dermatitis have been reported for the following fabric additives.

Safe cosmetics will help you shine naturally. Read the ugly truth about synthetic make up here.

Almost 90 percent of the 10,500 cosmetics and skin care ingredients known to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not been evaluated for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, the FDA, or any other publicly accountable institution, according to the Environmental Working Group.

To be fair, no one’s dropping dead after a using a mascara wand or a body wash, and manufacturers have an interest in creating products that don’t harm their customers. But complex chemicals with potential unknown side effects lead us to follow the Precautionary Principle. That is to say, if we’d prefer to stay on the side of safety until we know.

    • 4 pounds: Average amount of lipstick a woman will ingest over her lifetime.
  • 11: Percentage of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal-care products that the U.S. government has documented and publicly assessed for safety.
  • 1,110+: The number of ingredients banned in cosmetics in the European Union.
  • 10: The number of ingredients banned in cosmetics in the United States.
  • 600: The number of companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.
  • 20: Percentage of personal-care products that contain at least one chemical linked to cancer.
  • 22: Percentage of cosmetics contaminated with possible cancer-causing impurity 1,4-dioxane.
  • $160 billion: Amount spent annually on skin- and hair-care, makeup, cosmetic surgery, fragrances, health clubs, and diet products.
  • Sources: Campaign for Safe CosmeticsThe Environmental Working GroupThe Economist

It’s important to note that people who are going through special medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiations need to take extra care of their clothings to protect their skin. Chemotherapy can damage your skin and leave it itchy and dry. If we wear clothes filled with chemicals and synthetic makeup may further cause discomfort and allergies. Choosing clothes made from natural fibers is a good idea. Organic cotton made clothes are best to wear during and after the treatment. Organic cotton clothing are recyclable, comfortable to wear, great Insulators, good for sensitive skin, renewable resource, biodegradable, carbon neutral, healthy and safe on skin. Studies show that Organic Cotton causes fewer allergic reactions than conventional. Organic cotton apparel also reduces respiratory problems and smells pleasant.  

Here is some good information on how to care your skin when undergoing chemotherapy.  

Take care of your body gaurd – Skin

References:
http://www.dermnetnz.org/
Killer Clothes written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Dermatitis/files/clothing.pdf
http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/textile-dermatitis.html
https://mesothelioma.net/caring-skin-chemotherapy/
https://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-natural-skin-care.html

Image: Pixabay

Eat Organic! Wear Organic!


“The food you eat can be either the safest and the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” – Ann Wigmore


My blog has various articles on why to wear organic. Let’s talk about why to eat organic today. (Various references and study links used in this article are UK and Europe based. The implications are similar in America)

When you see the word ‘organic’ on a food label it guarantees the following:

  • Fewer pesticides
  • No artificial colors & preservatives
  • The highest standards of animal welfare
  • No routine use of antibiotics
  • GM Free

Organic means working with nature, not against it. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilizers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment – this means more wildlife! Whatever you’re buying – from cotton buds to carrots – when you choose organic food, drink or beauty and textiles, you choose products that promote a better world.

Almost 300 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and are often present in non-organic food.

In organic farming systems, animals are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers common in intensive livestock farming.

Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies – there is up to 50% more wildlife on organic farms!

No system of farming does more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, or protect natural resources like fresh water and healthy soils.

The Sad Reality of Mass Production:

Perhaps an easier way to understand Organic, is to look at what it is not.

Food Waste:With mass production, comes mass demand and with that we are now surrounded by enormous farms which in turn place enormous pressure on our existing resources to produce huge amount of food, nearly a third of which is never consumed, that’s nearly 1.3 billion tons according to the FAO.

This begs the question of why we continue to sustain such an output?

Nutrient Depletion: Farmers are now using pesticides and chemicals as security to meet the production targets. They are constantly planting the same crop in the same field year after year. We are now living in a world where the foods, fruits, vegetables and grains raised no longer contain enough of certain needed minerals, like magnesium for example. We are depleting the soil, which means it is now almost impossible to be nutrient sufficient.

Food miles: On the one hand, modern farming and distribution methods allow more varieties of food to reach our shores as well as providing us with material to export and generate revenue. For example, Ireland is famous for its butter and lamb and Iceland for its fish. In addition, we are able to source seasonal food year round. Although a positive for the economy, this also means our food travels thousands of miles before reaching our plates. Every minute your food spends in transit, it is exposed to the elements. These changes in temperature, light and air cause losses in micro nutrients. In addition, many farmers now harvest their crops early, prior to peak ripeness, to allow for the long distance travel spinach lost 47% of its folate and carotenoid content when stored at 68 degrees. Most container trucks reach higher temperatures than that. The same study found that spinach lost 53% of its folate and carotenoid content after 7 days, despite being stored at 39 degrees.

Why Organic?

Better for your health: Do you really know what’s in your food? Of the food we consume, a stunning 46% of food contains residues of one or more pesticides. This figure has almost doubled since 2003. All organic food is fully traceable from farm to fork, so you can be sure of what you’re eating. There are strict standards laid down in American and European laws for any food labelled as organic it must meet certain criteria. Not only that, but it’s even been shown that organic food contains more nutrients. A team at Newcastle University found organic crops are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown ones. Another study, released in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed how both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products (source)

Better for the ingredient:

  • When it comes to plants, the big question mark sits around pesticides and sprays.  “Many people don’t realize over 320 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and these are often present in non-organic food we eat despite washing and cooking. Organic farming standards, on the other hand, don’t allow any synthetic pesticides and absolutely no herbicides such as Glyphosate. In UK, organic farmers are permitted to use just 15 pesticides, derived from natural ingredients including citronella and clove oil, but only under very restricted circumstances. Research suggests that if all UK farming was organic, pesticide use would drop by 98%!” (Source).
  • The other big question mark sits around animals and how they are treated. Being an organic farmer also ensures the animal welfare of the farm animals by setting out clear guidelines that the animals should have access to pasture, a better diet and may not be treated with antibiotics. Farms not Factories have created a comprehensive guide to labelling on meat products to help you get a better understanding of what each label means.

Better for the planet: Agriculture is a contributor to climate change, responsible for about 14% of greenhouse emissions. However, “the widespread adoption of organic farming practices in the UK could offset at least 23% of UK agriculture’s current official GHG emissions.” (Source). Not only that, but soil is also a precious commodity, one that mass production heavily exploits. Organic farming focuses on nourishing and enhancing soil life (more info)

Better for the wildlife: Circa 17,800 tonnes of pesticides were used on British farms to kill weeds, insects and control crop diseases in 2015. The problem is that pesticides don’t just kill the target pest. They can affect other wildlife and the environment by either direct poisoning, contaminating water courses or disrupting ecosystems (source). In fact, Organic farmers are helping protect our wildlife by maintaining habitats. The soil association reports that “On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms. Organic farms are also home to 30% more species on average.” (source)

Why does organic cost more? 

While organic food is sometimes more expensive than non-organic, there are ways to keep costs down. In an ideal world, organic wouldn’t need to be more expensive. A big part of the problem is that the true cost of our food isn’t reflected in the price, both the positives and the negatives. So food that is produced in ways that may contaminate our water, or lead to antibiotic resistance in people, may seem cheap in the store, but the real cost can be very high indeed.

Where there is a price difference, you are paying for the special care organic farmers place on protecting the environment and improving animal welfare. As the costs of farming with oil-based fertilizers and chemicals increase, the price gap between organic and non-organic is closing.

References:

  • Naked Calories by Mira & Jayson Calton, page 84
  • http://irawuk.com
  • (PAN page 4)
  • https://www.soilassociation.org/media/1220/farming-and-growing-v17-4-august-2016.pdf

Buyer Aware


“Don’t blow it – good planets are hard to find” Quoted in Time


Are you aware of contents in your t-shirt?

Every one love t-shirts, they are such an easy wear. We have those comfort wear t-shirts on while doing most uncomfortable work whether it’s in our backyard, construction site or in a factory. And it’s such a comfort to slip in a white t-shirt, every night, before hitting the sack.

If you don’t have a t-shirt, a hat or a jacket with your brand’s logo imprinted on it, you are missing out on a powerful and affordable marketing opportunity. T-shirts can be your walking advertisements. They are a popular choice for advertising your company or product, your brand, for fundraising activities, charities etc. At such events they are usually free. T-shirts are also popular with fitness industries and runners love it. So it can just not be walking but running advertisement for your products.

T-shirts are inexpensive these days. They come in hundreds of colors. You name it and you got it.

Not all t-shirts are healthy though. Ask from a textiles and clothing insider, he can surprise you with inside information. So how do we know what is inside those color full t-shirts.

There is a quite a bit of coloring that basic raw fabric takes to make a colored t-shirt. That is called “dyes and chemicals”. Important to mention here is that (by some estimates) a shirt can gain 10% to 100% of weight, after it gets dyes, chemicals and various finishes on it. So if you wear a shirt without color, it might be 30% lighter in weight. And mostly that weight is “Man Made synthetic dyes and chemicals”. Now that is a lot of “synthetic and chemicals” hanging on our shoulders and hugging our body, even when we sleep.

Needless to say, we have to be “buyer aware”. A wise buying can save your skin.

The color we see on the shirt is called dyes, we all know that. What is a synthetic dye?

Below is brief introduction to synthetic dyes.

Synthetic dyes are derived from petroleum products, specially coal tar. Synthetic dyes are used extensively by textile industry. The chemicals used to produce dyes today are often highly toxic, carcinogenic, or even explosive. The chemical Aniline, the basis for a popular group of dyes known as Azo dyes which are considered deadly poisons, giving off carcinogenic amines, and dangerous to work with and also being highly flammable. In addition, other harmful chemicals used in the dying process include dioxin – a carcinogen and possible hormone disruptor, toxic heavy metals such as chrome, copper, and zinc – known carcinogens and formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen.

A significant proportion of synthetic dyes are lost annually to waste streams during textile processing, which eventually enters the environment. Textile dyes have synthetic origin and complex aromatic molecular structures that make them difficult to biodegrade when discharged in the ecosystem. Color/dye being one of the important recalcitrant, persist for long distances in flowing water, retards photosynthetic activity, inhibit the growth of aquatic biota by blocking out sunlight and utilizing dissolved oxygen and also damage the aesthetic nature of the environment. As such dyeing wastes need to be treated before discharge into the environment

The best way to color a shirt is, sadly, an area that is often neglected when manufacturers look to make their garments more ecologically sound. It’s great to see more and more t-shirts made of organic cotton, but many of their manufacturers have not stopped to consider the environmental impacts of the dyes. Many retailers and producers happily claim that they sell organic shirts, having completely disregarded how their stock has been colored.

The use of natural dyes is almost negligible and it’s hard to find a natural dyed shirt.

A report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on environmentally sound production clearly states: ‘the best option is not to dye the fabric.’ Eco-logic dictates that the less processes the t-shirt goes through, the more environmentally sound it is. An undyed t-shirt completely cuts out the coloring process, meaning the footprint of dyeing the undyed t-shirt is a big fat.

After reading this, you might think, are all the colored shirts made of this stuff? Answer is yes, most of them we see in stores today.

So what do consumers do those who have sensitive skin? What If now I don’t want to wear toxic colored t-shirt?

Below are the options we got to save our skin:

1st option- Try to look for natural fiber made undyed shirts. Organic cotton is the best option.

2nd option- Look for 100% organic cotton shirts, with light colors.

3rd option- Wear more of light color shirts made of natural fibers. They have less load of dyes and chemicals and they have stayed in the dye batch for less time. That means, dipped in dyes and chemicals for less amount of time than medium or dark color.

4th option- For fashion conscious people those who want to wear all sorts of color, look for various symbols that protect clothing to be dyed from worst kind of dyes (carcinogen and possible hormone disruptor, toxic heavy metals such as chrome, copper, and zinc – known carcinogens and formaldehyde). Those symbols are:

  1. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards)

  1. Oeko-Tex

In the textile industry, these two certifications restrict fabrics from being treated from above mentioned harmful chemicals.

5th option – Avoid most chemical loaded shirts like wrinkle resistance, stain resistance or as a matter of fact any kind of “resistance”, “repellent” “retardant” finishes. They are coated with chemicals not good for skin.

Origin of safe clothing fiber is from earth not labs.

Stay safe. Wear Safe.

References:

 

Why Natural Fibers?


“Free your mind from toxic thoughts and your clothes from toxic chemicals” – Jitin Anand


Why Should You Care About Natural Fibers?

Natural fibers can be defined as bio-based fibers or fibers from vegetable and animal origin. This includes all natural cellulosic fibers like cotton, jute, sisal, coir, flax, hemp, abaca, ramie, etc. and protein based fibers such as wool and silk. Excluded here are mineral fibers such as asbestos that occur naturally but are not bio based. Asbestos containing products are not considered sustainable due to the well-known health risk, that resulted in prohibition of its use in many countries. On the other hand, there are man-made cellulose fibers such as viscose-rayon and cellulose acetate, that are produced with chemical procedures from pulped wood or other sources (cotton, bamboo). Similarly, regenerated (soybean) protein, polymer fiber (bio-polyester, PHA, PLA) and chitosan fiber are examples of semi-synthetic products that are based on renewable resources.

Each year, farmers harvest around 35 million tons of natural fibers from a wide range of plants and animals – from sheep, rabbits, goats, camels and alpacas, from cotton bolls, abaca and sisal leaves and coconut husks, and from the stalks of jute, hemp, flax and ramie plants. Those fibers form fabrics, ropes and twines that have been fundamental to society since the dawn of civilization.

But over the past half century, natural fibers have been displaced in our clothing, household furnishings, industries and agriculture by man-made fibers with names like acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene. The success of synthetics is due mainly to cost. Unlike natural fibers harvested by farmers, commonly used synthetic fibers are mass produced from petrochemicals to uniform strengths, lengths and colors, easily customized to specific applications.

Relentless competition from synthetics and the current global economic downturn impact the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on natural fiber production and processing. That is why UN assigned 2009 as International Year of Natural Fibers aiming to raise global awareness of the importance of natural fibers not only to producers and industry, but also to consumers and the environment.

Natural fibers are a healthy choice

Most people know natural fibers provide natural ventilation. That is why a cotton T-shirt feels so comfortable on a hot day – and why sweat-suits used for weight reduction are 100% synthetic. Wool garments act as insulators against both cold and heat – Bedouins wear thin wool to keep themselves cool. Coconut fibers used in mattresses have natural resistance to fungus and mites. Hemp fiber has antibacterial properties, and studies show that linen is the most hygienic textile for hospital bed sheets.

Natural fibers are a responsible choice

Natural fibers are of major economic importance to many developing countries and vital to the livelihoods and food security of millions of small-scale farmers and processors. They include 10 million people in the cotton sector in West and Central Africa, 4 million small-scale jute farmers in Bangladesh and India, one million silk industry workers in China, and 120 000 alpaca herding families in the Andes. By choosing natural fibers we boost the sector’s contribution to economic growth and help fight hunger and rural poverty. 

Natural fires are a sustainable choice

The emerging “green” economy is based on energy efficiency, renewable feed stocks in polymer products, industrial processes that reduce carbon emissions and recyclable materials. Natural fibers are a renewable resource. Growing one ton of jute fiber requires less than 10% of the energy used for the production of polypropylene. Natural fibers are carbon neutral. Processing produces residues that can be used in bio composites for building houses or to generate electricity. At the end of their life cycle, natural fibers are 100% biodegradable. 

Natural fibers are a high-tech choice

Natural fibers have good mechanical strength, low weight and low cost. That has made them particularly attractive to the automobile industry. In Europe, car makers are using an estimated 80 000 tons of natural fibers a year to reinforce thermoplastic panels. India has developed composite boards made from coconut fiber that are more resistant to rotting than teak. Brazil is making roofing material reinforced with sisal. In Europe, hemp wastes are used in cement, and China used hemp-based construction materials for the 2008 Olympics.

Natural fibers are a fashionable choice

Natural fibers are at the heart of an eco-fashion or “sustainable clothing” movement that seeks to create garments that are sustainable at every stage of their life cycle, from production to disposal. Natural fiber producers, textile manufacturers and the clothing industry need to be aware of, and respond to, the opportunities provided by growing demand for organic cotton and wool, for recyclable and biodegradable fabrics, and for “fair trade” practices that offer producers higher prices and protect textile industry workers.

Increased customer demand for sustainable textiles and advances in technology may well increase the amount of natural fibers used. Fibers that in the past were not considered suitable for clothing can now be used. Treating jute with caustic soda, for example, improves its crimp and softness, which allows it to be spun with wool. Modern processing systems allow jute to be successfully blended with cotton. Technological developments make it possible to spin a yarn which is 3 parts kapok and 2 parts cotton and there are now techniques available to make kapok non-flammable.

Geo-textiles are another area with an increased demand for natural fibers. Geo-textiles are used to protect soil from erosion and strengthen earthworks, encouraging the growth of plants.

Surprisingly, the largest area of growth in the use of natural fibers is in the automotive industry. Plant fibers are attractive to car makers as they are light and mechanically strong, and plant fiber composites can be used instead of fiberglass to reinforce components. Molding them into shape uses less energy than molding fiberglass, which can considerably reduce production costs. The cars also weigh less and cost less to run. In addition, car seats padded with coconut fiber are more comfortable to use than those filled with plastic foam.

However, it is unlikely that synthetic fibers will ever be completely replaced by natural fibers. Synthetic fibers can be produced cheaply and in large amounts. They are easy to customize and can be made in any length, crimp or diameter. And many consumers find it more important that the clothes they wear are cheap and easy to care for rather than comfortable and sustainable.

Synthetic fibers come with lots of chemicals on them and can be toxic too. Read my articles to learn more.

We might not be able to stop using synthetic fiber totally, but we can restrict them. For our and planet earth’s good.

Resources:

http://www.wildfibres.co.uk/
http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/

image courtesy: researchgate.net

Organic Cotton Facts


Land is ultimately the most precious resource we have-  Altfrid Krusenbaum, WI


Simple definition of organic: grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals, related to or obtained from living things. Having characteristics of an organism, developing in the manner of a living plant or animal

Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

 According to the 2011 Textile Exchange Organic Cotton Farm & Fiber Report, approximately 151,079 metric tons (MT) of organic cotton (693,900 bales) were grown on 324,577 hectares (802,047 acres) in 2010-2011. Organic cotton now equals 0.7 percent of global cotton production. Organic cotton was grown in 20 countries worldwide in 2010-11 led by India and including (in order of rank): Syria, China, Turkey, United States, Tanzania, Egypt, Mali, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Pakistan, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Benin, Paraguay, Israel, Tajikistan, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Senegal. Approximately 219,000 farmers grew the fiber.

According to a report by Textile Exchange, 2010 Global Market Report on Sustainable Textiles, global sales of organic cotton apparel and home textile products reached an estimated $5.16 billion in 2010. This reflects a 20 percent increase from the 2009 market. Companies reported significant growth in their organic cotton programs, and increased adoption of standards addressing product traceability and sustainable textile processing.

In fact, companies are increasingly becoming certified to traceability standards such as the Organic Exchange (OE) Blended or OE 100 standard, tracing the organic fiber from the field to finished product. Many manufacturers have also become certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which addresses textile’s processing stages and includes strong labor provisions.

 U.S. organic cotton production continues to increase, encouraged by consumer and corporate demand, price premiums, and regulatory shifts that facilitate clear labeling for organic cotton products.

According to an OTA (Organic Textile Association) survey of U.S. organic cotton production, undertaken with funding from Cotton Incorporated, the number of acres planted with organic cotton in the U.S. increased 36 percent from 2009-2010 while bales harvested were up nearly 24 percent. U.S. producers harvested 11,262 acres of organic cotton in 2010, representing 95 percent of planted acres, and yielding 13,279 bales.

Apparel companies are developing programs that either use 100 percent organically grown cotton, or blend small percentages of organic cotton with conventional cotton in their products. There are a number of companies driving the expanded use of domestic and international organic cotton. For a current list of OTA members with products containing organic fiber, visit The Organic Pages Online™ at OTA website.

As a result of consumer interest, organic cotton fiber is used in everything from personal care items (sanitary products, make-up removal pads, cotton puffs, ear swabs), to fabrics, home furnishings (towels, bathrobes, sheets, blankets, bedding, beds), children’s products (toys, diapers), and clothes of all kinds and styles (whether for lounging, sports or the workplace). In addition, organic cottonseed is used for animal feed, and organic cottonseed oil is used in a variety of food products, including cookies and chips.

In 2011, organic fiber sales in the United States grew by 17.1 percent over the previous year, to reach $708 million, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey. The future looks promising, with organic fiber products appearing in more mainstream outlets, led by large and small U.S. textile retailers alike.

Unlike food, textile products don’t have to be certified in order to be described as organic. A product claiming to be organic might only contain a small percentage of organic cotton or may be made of organic cotton but dyed using toxic chemicals which would never be allowed in certified organic products.

In order to be sure a product really is organic from field to finished product, look out for below symbols:

 

GOTS symbol: Product grown and processed to organic standards. Products carrying the GOTS symbol are made from organic fibers, have met strict environmental and social criteria during processing and have been certified by an independent, third party along the whole supply chain.
Find out more about GOTS…

  Soil Association symbol: Product certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard by Soil Association Certification Ltd. The Soil Association was a founder member of GOTS and is a quarter owner of Global Standard GmbH which manages the GOTS.
Find out more about the Soil Association…
 

OE100 symbol: Cotton in the product grown to organic standards. Product has been tracked and traced along the supply chain by an independent, third party. Contains 100% certified organic cotton fiber, but hasn’t necessarily been processed to organic standards.

  OE blended symbol: Product contains a minimum 5% of organic cotton fiber.

Organic cotton clothing will cause fewer allergies, reduced respiratory problems (no sneezing in the closets is a sign of improvement). There might not be strong scientific proofs to back up these facts. But if you consult doctors or dieticians or even your grandmother, they will always recommend organic food. Well, that’s true for clothes too. We don’t eat our clothes but our skin absorbs and inhales chemicals sitting on the clothes. Like a patch of medicine applied on skin. 

Resources:

http://www.cottonedon.org
https://ota.com
Killer Clothes written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN

http://www.digipac.ca/chemical/mtom/contents/chapter3/fritzhaber_3.htm

Image courtesy: organicfacts.net

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