Do you like soup?
I do. You can put all kinds of vegetable and spices into soup.
When I make soup my kids ask, “What’s in it?” to find out if I’ve added a veggie they’ve identified as one they don’t want. My youngest has dug in his heels against broccoli and the older one against mushrooms.
They ask because they can’t tell if the offending food is in there. Do I always tell? No. I sometimes sneak those veggies past them.
Not too many parents will fault me for my sneakiness. If, however, I was intentionally sneaking really, really unhealthy, even dangerous, ingredients in that soup, opinions would be different.
Synthetic fibers are in one way a lot like soup. A manufacturer can put all types of different ingredients in there and the consumer is probably not going to know.
Take polyester. There are different formulations for polyester just like there are different ways to make vegetable soup. When polyester is being mixed, the manufacturer can add chemicals to change the texture or chemicals to change the sheen.
They can even add flame retardant chemicals implicated as potential causes of cancer / other health problems or learning disabilities. Flame retardants like chlorinated tris, banned from children’s pajamas in the 1970s due to concerns about genetic mutations but still in many products today.
Even if an added chemical would be restricted (out of more than 80,000 chemicals, the EPA has only restricted six in the past 35 years, and of those a ban on asbestos was overturned!), manufacturers can tweak the formula to form a new, although not necessarily safer, chemical, and again, in it can go. The vast majority of chemicals used in fabrics are untested regarding health.
I’m not picking on polyester. Any synthetic fabric mixed in batches can have undesirable chemicals in the mix. These chemicals for the most part do not need to be disclosed to a consumer and are virtually unregulated. In fact, if a flame retardant chemical was added to a synthetic fiber as it was being manufactured, a furniture or mattress maker using that fabric can claim NO FLAME RETARDANTS ADDED. I’m not kidding.
While California is pushing forward with stronger chemical regulations, even if select chemicals do get banned, it will be years before they realistically are out of products, and, as mentioned earlier, other types of similar chemicals not banned could then be legally used.
The bottom line is how much do you want to risk? Because chemicals in fabrics are undisclosed, a consumer has little choice to pick and choose what chemicals are okay and what are not.
At least in mattresses there is a way of avoiding them altogether. A natural fabric like cotton is not a synthetic mix but grown, so it cannot have chemicals added during a manufacturing process. By selecting certified organic mattresses like we sell you can avoid unwanted chemicals being topically added to a fabric. (Unfortunately, non-certified organic products can still sometimes have those chemicals added.)
When Naturepedic formed eleven years ago, we began making organic mattresses not simply to be organic, but because organic was one of the best, most effective vehicles to get to healthier products. By using certified organic materials, we were able let the consumer know what is in their product, without guesswork or games.
Unless you can truly know the chemicals used in synthetic fabrics, the most effective way to avoid them is to select certified organic products.
Otherwise, you just don’t know what chemicals are being added to the “soup.”