In an ideal world you would be able to make sure that your children's clothing, and in fact, all materials they will come in contact with, are made of pure organic cotton or natural wool. This is a fairly impossible standard, but you can make better choices if you are armed with the truth.
The first danger is the presence of fire retardant chemicals in children's clothing: In 1971, the Consumer Product Safety Commission required that children's sleepwear self-extinguish when exposed to flames. From then until 1977 baby clothes were doused in Tris, a chemical that was found to be carcinogenic and is now banned. Current laws allow these choices in your children's sleepwear:•Nylon or acetate treated with antimony or polybrominated diphenyl ethers(PBDEs). By law, these chemicals MUST remain in the clothing after 50 washings and they are known to be absorbed through the baby's skin.•Polyester with the flame retardant "built" into the fiber. Again, these cannot be washed out. The manufacturers' claim these polymer's are stable, but levels of these chemicals are much higher in children in the U.S. because other countries don't require fire retardants.•Untreated cotton that fits very snugly. Eliminating air spaces for oxygen is essential to limiting the flammability of the cotton.•Pure natural wool is naturally flame retardant.Why are these chemicals a problem?•Proven to be absorbed through the skin. The Environmental Working Group studied 20 families and found that ALL the toddlers and preschoolers in the study had a level of chemical fire retardants in their blood that was an average of THREE TIMES higher than their mothers'.•Proven to cause brain and nerve damage in animals.•Suspected of causing brain damage, hyperactivity, hormone disruption and damage to the reproductive organs of human children yet our government mandates their use in everything from clothing and mattresses to your TV remote control.•US children have much greater levels of these chemicals in their bodies than do children in other countries where these chemicals are not regularly used. The U.S.'s stringent fire safety standards may protect us from potential fires but they guarantee chemical toxicity in our children.•"This is concentrating in human beings, just like PCBs," said Maine state toxicologist Deborah Rice, a former EPA scientist. She once studied PCBs, toxic chemicals banned in the 1970s. She now compares them to the chemical Deca, the one PBDE still produced in America. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/19/ev...)Although this article is specific to clothing, these same toxins are in almost all household fabrics and foam such as chairs, mattresses (including your baby's crib mattress) and car seats, etc so clothing is only one way through which your baby is literally being poisoned. As of May 2008, 2 states have banned PBDEs and 6 more are considering a ban.Other Considerations•Cotton is the most sprayed crop in the US. Non-organic cotton clothing, even if not treated with anything, is full of pesticides. It is also likely to be genetically modified to withstand the pesticide RoundUP. If you cannot purchase organic, wash the items several times before putting them on your baby.•Much clothing is treated with "sizing" to keep it free of wrinkles. This sizing is nothing other than FORMALDEHYDE! "At Philadelphia University, formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science, engineers, chemists and technicians have formed a new Institute for Textile and Apparel Product Safety. So far they've analyzed children's clothing for formaldehyde, an agent used in the permanent-press process, finding levels in a handful of items that would violate standards in Japan. (There are no such standards in the United States.)Make an informed choice. When possible, purchase clothing made of organic cotton or natural wool. Include mattresses and bed linens in this quest. Every little step you can take to lessen your child's toxin load is another step to better health for that child throughout his/her life.
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