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And now: toxic clothes

24 August, 2007
Toxic clothes – The tip of the iceberg? scoop.co.nz. August 20, 2007. Dangerous toy recalls have dominated the news lately and this week the Target programme on TV3 will detail how scientists found formaldehyde in woollen and cotton clothes at levels 500 times higher than is safe. These recalls and consumer concerns sadly confirm what many so-called “greenies” already suspected. That cheaply made imported goods contain materials that could put your child at risk. Most parents feel that they are buying quality when they buy 100% cotton clothing. Yet people are unaware of the many chemicals used to grow cotton for manufacturing. Traditional cotton production involves the heavy use of synthetic chemicals at all stages from fertilising the soil to cotton cultivation, harvesting, scouring, dyeing, printing, and finishing.
It is the treatments used in the final finishing stage, that the Target programme has bought into the spotlight. Finishing can be easycare, stain resistance, fireproofing, mothproofing, softening, deodorizing, anti-static, and mercerizing treatments. The chemicals used are Formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines.

Chemical traces on the fabric can cause burning eyes, nose, and throat, as well as difficulties with sleep, concentration, and memory. Can increase susceptibility to cancer; emissions of chemicals from fabric increase with temperature.

This is why many parents are choosing to dress their babies only in organic cotton and the organic cotton market is expanding into older children’s clothing, adult clothing and bedding. The Organic Baby web directory is a great place to find listings of organic products available in New Zealand.

It is not only clothing and bedding that parents should be concerned about, but children’s furniture, and air fresheners used around the home.

Cheaper children’s furniture is often made from composite wood products such as plywood, fibreboard (MDF) and glues which are known to release formaldehyde. Asthma research has found a link between home exposure to volatile organic compounds and incidence of asthma in young children.

Air fresheners which are commonly found around homes, and in shops and restaurants, also contain toxic chemicals including pinene and limonene which react with ozone creating formaldehyde.

Air freshener products are unnecessary. What ever happened to opening a window? or using natural alternatives such as fresh flowers or dried lavender. Alternatively, you can burn pure essential oils (not the artificial varieties).

Yes, Target has certainly unearthed a minefield. It is very disturbing but will hopefully mark the start of a move away from the consumer-driven demand for cheap, low quality products and an increased demand for quality.

Organic Baby is NZ-based web directory and the complete guide to natural parenting in NZ. The web site was launched in November 2005 and grew out of the owner’s passion for healthy living, organics and wanting the share information that may benefit others. The web site receives over 6000 visitors per month from all around the world.

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