Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clothes cause SIDS? (flame retardants plus)

from Daily Dose:

Clothing chemical could cause SIDS

"Organic" is another trendy product claim, but it's far more tightly regulated than "natural." But while we normally associate the term "organic" with foods, there's increasing demand for organic floors, carpets, mattresses, window covering, and clothes. Some may think this could be taking the whole "goodness of mother Earth" thing a little far – myself included. As much as I advocate all things natural, I'm not sure I care too much about how organic the floors in my house are, or that my shirts are made from organic cotton.

But a new study is making me wonder if I should start caring. Quickly.

Most consumers believe that cotton is the most healthy and natural material available. It's by far the most popular clothing material out there. But even though cotton makes up just 2.4 percent of the world's total agricultural acreage, 25 percent of global pesticide use is applied to cotton crops. That's a lot of chemicals. In fact, it takes about a third of a pound of pesticides and fertilizers to grow enough cotton for just one T-shirt.

But it doesn't stop with crop dusting. Cotton is saturated with herbicides before it's harvested in order to defoliate the crop so it's easier to pick. Then it's off to the textile mills where even more chemicals are applied — bleaching agents, dyes, stain and odor resistance formulas, wrinkle reducers, static-reducers, flame retardants and a dozens more.

But wait! There's more! Then the finished products must be washed before shipping, so there are detergents and fabric softeners, which leave their residue in the clothes. The finishing process uses chemicals like formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, and halogens.

Is this a T-shirt they're making, or Frankenstein's monster? With all that processing, it can be hard to tell.

These chemicals are no joke, and allergies and skin irritations are the least of your worries. A European study discovered that the fire retardant chemical antimony used in some crib mattresses can actually leach through the mattress into a baby's skin – and they've connected these findings to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The livers of autopsied SIDS victims were found to contain high levels of antimony.

Another study on flame retardants found an 18-month-old baby with chemical flame retardant levels in the blood that were two or three times the levels that are known to cause neurological damage in laboratory rats.

Here's what's frightening about that: US law mandates that flame-retardant chemicals be applied to children's CLOTHING. Imagine: if chemicals like antimony have the ability to be absorbed into the skin through a mattress with a sheet over it, how much is being absorbed by children wearing it NEXT TO THEIR SKIN?

Next time you're out shopping for kids clothes … think organic.


William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

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