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.
Imagine if it can affect adults health, how much damage it can cause kids with tender skin.
In a policy statement entitled Food Additives and Child Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns about these harms — and points out that they often are worse for children. Children are smaller, so their “dose” of any given chemical ends up being higher. They put their hands in their mouths more than adults do, so they are likely to ingest more. Their bodies are still developing, so they can be more at risk of harm — and they are young, so the chemicals have more time to do more damage.
Do we really know what clothing our kids are in? Most of us don’t. Lets know what kind of chemicals are lurking in our kids clothes and let us kick them out.
Below is a list of chemicals found in kids clothes:
In the textile industry they are used in artificial leather, rubber and PVC and in some dyes. These can also act like hormones, interfering with male genital development, and can increase the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. They are ubiquitous, found not just in plastic packaging, garden hoses, and inflatable toys, but also in things like nail polish, hairsprays, lotions, and fragrances. .
In Textile industry they are used to make textile and leather products both water and stain- proof. They can lead to low-birth weight babies, as well as problems with the immune system, the thyroid, and fertility. They are commonly found in grease-proof paper, cardboard packaging, and commercial household products such as water-repellent fabric and nonstick pans, among other places.
3. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) are man-made chemicals that are widely used as surfactants by textiles manufacturers. Once released to the environment, NPEs degrade to nonylphenols (NP), which are known to be toxic and act as hormone disrupters. NP is known to accumulate in many living organisms. The presence of NPEs in finished products shows that they have been used during their manufacture, which is likely to result in the release of NPEs and NP in wastewater from manufacturing facilities. In addition, NPE residues in these products will be washed out during laundering and released into the public wastewater systems of the countries where the products are sold.
4. Organotin compounds
Organotin compounds are used in biocides and as antifungal agents in a range of consumer products. Within the textile industry they have been used in products such as socks, shoes and sport clothes to prevent odour caused by the breakdown of sweat. One of the best-known organotin compounds is tributyltin (TBT). One of its main uses was in antifouling paints for ships, until evidence emerged that it persists in the environment, builds up in the body and can affect immune and reproductive systems. Its use as an antifouling paint is now largely banned. TBT has also been used in textiles
5. Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury
Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury, have been used in certain dyes and pigments used for textiles. These metals can accumulate in the body over time and are highly toxic, with irreversible effects including damage to the nervous system (lead and mercury) or the kidneys (cadmium). Cadmium is also known to cause cancer.
Uses of chromium (VI) include certain textile processes and leather tanning: it is highly toxic even at low concentrations, including to many aquatic organisms.
Some other commonly found chemicals to be alert of:
6. Perchlorate. This chemical also interferes with thyroid function, and can disrupt early brain development. It’s found in some dry food packaging — it’s used to decrease static electricity — and sometimes in drinking water.
7. . Artificial food colors. These have been found to increase symptoms in children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. They are found in all sorts of food products, but especially those marketed for children.
8. Nitrates and nitrites. These can interfere with the thyroid, as well as with the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body. They can also increase the risk of certain cancers. They are used to preserve food and enhance its color. They are commonly found in processed foods, especially meats.
HERE’S WHAT PARENTS CAN DO:
- Just say no to sandals, shoes, boots or raingear 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.
- Select clothing manufactured in the U.S. and Europe where regulations are generally stricter.
- 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.
The Organic Trade Association estimates that one non-organic cotton T-shirt uses one-third pound of pesticides and fertilizers. Cotton production uses one-fourth of all the world’s fertilizers. It’s another good reason to choose organic cotton to add to the ones above.
Here is what the AAP suggests (American Academy of Pediatrics ):
- Buy and serve more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and fewer processed meats, especially during pregnancy.
- Since heat can cause plastics to leak BPA and phthalates into food, avoid microwaving food or beverages in plastic containers. Also: wash plastics by hand rather than putting them in the dishwasher.
- Use more glass and stainless steel instead of plastic.
- Avoid plastics with the numbers 3, 6, and 7 on them.
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after touching food, and clean all fruits and vegetables well.
And here are a few more ideas:
- Cut back on canned foods and beverages in general.
- Cut back on fast food and processed foods.
- Read labels. Get to know what is in the products you use.
- Look for lotions, soaps, and other products that are made naturally — and are fragrance-free.
- Consider making your own home cleaning products. You’d be amazed what a little baking soda or vinegar can do.
Main picture courtesy: Pixabay