Archive for February, 2010

Is Your Baby Bedding Toxic?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010


shar peiDecades ago, clothing, linens and other textiles were anything but easy-care. The fabrics were heavy and cumbersome to clean, took forever to dry, and had more wrinkles than a Shar Pei. This kept housewives, which was just about every wife at the time, pretty busy.

When synthetic fibers came into the picture, American women sighed with relief. The clothes and linens were lighter, washed quickly, dried quickly, and wrinkles, if there were any, practically shook out. We’ve come to expect that – even with baby clothes, blankets and the bedding we use on crib mattresses.

However, over the years we’ve discovered more about the chemicals some of these synthetic fabrics actually have in and on them, and the blush is definitely fading from the easy-care chemical rose.

What chemicals can your baby be exposed to with crib bedding?

Labels like ‘crease-resistant,’ ‘crease-proof,’ ‘no iron,’ ‘wrinkle-resistant,’ ‘durable press,’ ‘easy-care’, ‘wrinkle-free’, ‘stain-resistant,’ ‘wash and wear,’ and ‘permanent press’ mean the fabrics are probably treated with formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde can cause a number of health conditions – burning and watery eyes, coughing, difficulty breathing, and allergic contact dermatitis where formaldehyde-containing fabrics come in contact with the skin.

According to the National Cancer Institute, formaldehyde is also human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance), and the Environmental Protection Agency agrees that’s probably the case.

Formaldehyde is just one of the chemicals of concern in baby bedding, but it’s enough.

What’s the solution? Although you can buy untreated 100% cotton products, it might be easier to get organic cotton. Organic cotton is becoming so popular you can even find linens and clothing in major department stores. Not all stores, and not many items, but you may be able to find them.

If not, you can shop at specialty stores or online. There are literally hundreds of online stores that sell organic cotton sheets – including for a toddler or crib mattress – as well as blankets, pillowcases, clothing, and so on. You can also find them at Naturepedic – we make organic cotton crib sheets and other bed linens as well as organic crib mattresses. Check them out.

So … what do you do about the wrinkles?

Some organic cotton items don’t wrinkle anywhere near as much as they did decades ago; it depends on the weave and a number of other factors. Our crib sheets, for example, look pretty good right out of the dryer. So, wrinkles might not be a problem.

Here are a few tips to keep wrinkles to a minimum, regardless of the fabric:

  • Add vinegar to the final rinse cycle of your wash. Simply fill the fabric softener reservoir with one cup of vinegar to help keep textiles soft.
  • Don’t let your laundry sit in the washing machine. Take it out as soon as it’s done, then shake things out and smooth them before putting them in the dryer.
  • Pack the dryer loosely; the tighter it’s packed, the more wrinkles you’ll get.
  • Take clothes out of the dryer as soon as the cycle is complete, immediately smooth them out, then fold or hang.
  • If you need to iron something, use a steam iron. A combination of heat and moisture is the best wrinkle-fighter.

True, this all takes a little longer that permanent press. But it’s worth it to protect the health of your baby, and yourself.

Toxic Chemicals Are Putting Your Children at Risk

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Check out the startling details in a new health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

Read The Health Case for Reforming The Toxic Substances Control Act

Read The Health Case for Reforming The Toxic Substances Control Act

The results of a compilation and analysis of 30 years of environment studies, recently published as a health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, revealed startling details about the increase in disease in the U.S. over the last 35 years, and the link to toxic chemicals.

Here are some of the statistics from the report:

  • Leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers, have increased by more than 20% since 1975.
  • Breast cancer went up by 40% between 1973 and 1998 and, while breast cancer rates have declined since 2003, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is now one in eight, up from one in ten in 1973.
  • The incidence of asthma doubled between 1980 and 1995 and has stayed at the elevated rate.
  • Difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982. For woman aged 18 – 25, the incidence of reported difficulty has almost doubled.
  • The birth defect resulting in undescended testes increased 200% between 1970 and 1993.
  • Diagnosed autism has increased more than 10 times in the last 15 years.

According to the report, there is a growing consensus that chemicals are playing a role in the incidence and prevalence of these diseases.

The birth defect resulting in undescended testes, for example, as well as other hormonal problems with young boys, could be the result of exposure to phthalates – the plasticizer chemicals used to soften PVC/Vinyl so it can be used as a waterproof covering in crib mattresses – which is one of the reasons three phthalates were banned in baby mattresses and other kids products. One study even found that the school-age boys of women who tested positive for phthalates in their urine while pregnant played in ways that were not typical of young boys – no trucks, rough housing, and so on.

What’s being done about the chemical problem?

Although the EPA has admitted they’ve failed to protect the public from the dangers of toxic chemicals, and is currently making changes, the track record is abysmal: Since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted 34 years ago, only 200 of the 80,000 chemicals that have since been produced and used in the U.S. have been tested by the EPA, and only five have been regulated.

Health care reform is currently the subject of intense controversy. But real reform will come when we start getting rid of the chemicals suspected of exacerbating, if not causing, illness.

Chemical policy reform would also free up a lot of health care dollars: If reducing exposure to chemicals resulted in healthier people, it would only take one tenth of one percent in health savings to free up $5 billion every year.

Read more details in the report, The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families also has a campaign to help eliminate toxic chemicals. There are many facets to their campaign, including Parents for Non-Toxic Alternatives and several others directly concerned with toxic chemicals and the relationship to child safety. Check them out, you may want to become involved.

If you’re concerned about your child’s safety and want to do something about it right now, consider getting a Naturepedic toddler or crib mattress, along with our safe child and baby bedding and pillows. Also, check out the book Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd for thousands of safe alternatives for just about every chemical in your household.