Originally, fire-retardants were designed to keep soft and easily flammable clothing from catching fire. It’s one of those things that seems like a good idea until you do a little more investigating. The chemicals used to make something fire-resistant can be dangerous on their own.
It’s important that we are especially conscious of the ingredients used in our clothing because these items spend so much time against our skin. Even more so, we have to be careful about what we put against our children’s skin because their bodies and internal systems are still developing. Fire retardants (and other toxic chemicals) can off-gas off clothing and into our bodies.
Fire retardants are also used in furniture, cell phones, plastics, consumer electronics, and mattresses. If your soft furniture, car seat, stroller, blankets, or changing mats contain the “California TB 117” tag (“This article complies with flammability requirements of California Bureau of Home Furnishings Technical Bulletin 117”), then it surely contains fire retardant chemicals.
The most commonly used fire retardants are a class of chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers. A 2014 study by the Environmental Health Perspectives found fire retardants to be linked to a number of health related issues. Here are just a few:
- Thyroid disruption (which messes with all the hormones in your body)
- Early onset puberty
- Cognitive problems (inability to reason to solve problems)
- Delayed development (mental and physical)
What’s worse is that these chemicals are basically everywhere at this point. The study found these chemicals to wildlife, water supplies and even human breast milk. That’s because the chemicals aren’t bound well to the fabrics during the manufacturing process. They leach off on to our bodies over time, and eventually float free in the environment.
Unfortunately, we don’t understand the long-term effects of these chemicals on our health. There have been no studies that track fire retardant exposure over years. Manufacturers are free to add these chemicals to our products (including children’s clothing) without scrutiny.
My advice is for parents to avoid products made with fire retardants. It makes more sense to avoid a fire in the first place maintaining fire safety (since smoke is statistically more lethal than the flames anyway). Make sure you have batteries in your smoke alarms, your appliances are up to code and working well, and teach everyone about basic fire safety.
Choose clothing and children’s products made from natural and organic fibers, using low-impact dyes and no toxins. Tell us your thoughts: do you think twice before putting clothes on your child? Are you concerned about the toxic chemicals in some children’s clothes? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Guest Blog by Jennifer Cicci of Babee Talk
As a mother, Jennifer understands the importance of offering nothing by the best for baby. Motivated by teeth marks on her children’s cribs, she decided to design a teething rail cover after trying products that didn’t measure up when it came to quality or style. What she found out made her even more concerned about children’s safety and health: The toxic chemicals used in the production of synthetic materials have been linked to birth defects, reproductive disorders, and weakened immune systems.
She asked herself, “What if I could revolutionize the way parents decorated their crib with a safe and stylish teething rail cover that could be placed on the crib from day one?” Babee Talk® launched in 2014 with organic bedding and accessories. Chew-friendly, drool-friendly, and organic inside and out, her products ensure a healthy start in life for babies.
She only offers products that she would provide for her own children. She hopes moms and dads will start to talk about the importance of choosing safe, healthy, eco-friendly products, especially for babies.
Interested in writing a guest blog for 5 Phases? Send your topic idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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