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?:
- 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.
- Rid wardrobes of garments screen printed with plastisol, the thick, rubbery material used to create slightly raised designs and logos.
- Don’t purchase clothing promising stain-resistant, waterproof, or odor-fighting performance, technologies which utilize toxic chemicals.
- Steer clear of polyester, which frequently contains traces of antimony.
- Stick to natural fiber clothing, preferably organic.
- 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.
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