Posts Tagged ‘PBDE’

Pre-Loved Clothing – Avoiding PBDE’s

Written by admin on February 16th, 2011. Posted in Baby Clothing

I was told by friends how quickly babies grow out of their clothing and into the next size but I couldn’t have fully appreciated it until now. Our girls are 1 1/2 years old and all of their beautiful clothes bought and gifted to us are in a storage box nearly brand new. As children grow so quickly from birth to age 2 don’t be squeamish to buy or accept pre-loved baby clothes. (Especially from 0-6 months the only thing to touch them is breast milk or formula!) And from starting solids at 6 months onward babies grow so rapidly the outfits are probably worn less than 50 times each. They really are practically brand new with the added benefit of being pre-washed! Parents are becoming more aware of PBDE’s (fire retardants) in clothing and looking for ways to remove these very dangerous chemicals from their childrens’ lives. You can’t get much more intimate an issue than the clothing on your children’s bodies 24/7.

Look out for tags saying “Low Fire Danger”. It means the garment has been treated with dangerous Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

If you can’t afford to buy organic material clothing, the benefit of Pre-Loved’s is they have been washed and rewashed so many chemicals in the materials (such as fire retardant PBDE’s) and dyes have been diminished. Clothing, especially from China have a slight acidic/toxic smell to them (some worse than others) so getting seconds rather than brand new is really an improvement for your little baby’s health. Their very delicate skin will absorb, and their little lungs will inhale, absolutely everything in those fibres and increase the chemical load on their organs and system. (The higher risk to children is a result of their higher metabolic rate, higher intake of airborne pollutants and lower resilience, resulting in a two to four times higher absorption rate (Gilbert and Black 2000).

Keep this in mind when you’re eyeing off a lovely new ‘inexpensive’ outfit from China in the shops. If you must buy brand new look for organic cotton or bamboo for all of baby’s clothes in the first 6 months. You really don’t need too many outfits while they’re this young so make any new purchase a good one and go organic.

Babies love Pre-Loved!

Babies love Pre-Loved!

So back to the wonderful alternative of Pre-Loved Clothing. If you’re lucky enough to have friends with children slightly older than yours they may have clothing they want to gift to you. They certainly won’t hand you down tatty clothing so what you do receive will most likely still look brand new (and be gratefully accepted, thank you to our wonderful friends Marianne & Michael and Dean & Amanda!). Alternatively, visiting your local ‘thrift’ shop to buy inexpensive second hand clothing is a great idea. They won’t put anything tatty on the shelves either so you can be sure to find some great items at a fraction of the cost brand new (and more importantly with a fraction of the chemicals!). A good trick to finding lovely 2nds clothing is visiting thrift stores in or near ritzy, more affluent suburbs where the standard of clothing donated by the locals is higher.

For those mums whose children have already outgrown a couple of sizes I stumbled across a great concept called Kids Clothes Swap. If you Google it or ask around your mothers’ groups you may find one in your local area. They usually ask an entry fee and have a maximum limit for clothing on a 1 for 1 swap basis. As an example there’s one on the Gold Coast, Australia for $10 for 30 items swapped and another $10 per additional 30 items of clothing. Of course only quality pre-loved clothes in good condition are accepted for trade (and are what you want to receive in return for yours so it’s only fair). So take along all your outgrown baby clothes and come home with a brand new wardrobe for just the entry fee. Hats off to the fantastic ladies who thought up this idea!

If you see the sense in this approach of Pre-Loved clothing let friends and family know so you don’t receive gifts you feel guilty or worried about using (or that simply end up in the bin). Set your friends and family on the healthy path of finding great Pre-Loved’s from thrift shops. It’s actually quite exciting finding a beautiful item for a great price. It’s like SALE TIME in the retail shops!

More info on the health impacts of PBDE/Fire Retardants in my article Organic Baby Sleepwear – Avoiding PBDE’s

I may actually write a specific article explaining PBDE Fire Retardants and their health impacts based on findings from the Australian Government 2006 study. I’ll highlight excerpts of importance and break down the findings into key points so it’s easy to reach the important information. For those who are concerned about PBDE’s but are time poor, wading through all of these documents just isn’t possible. So stay tuned. More to come.

Your House is a Toxic Soup

Written by admin on February 11th, 2011. Posted in Healthy Home, Toxic Nursery

Unless you live out in the wilderness with not a scrap of production line man-made furniture, carpet, paint, curtains/blinds, soft furnishings or you live in an eco-designed and diligently sourced organically furnished and finished house, you’re living in a silent toxic soup. Even the clothes on your back and the food on your plate are impacting your health.

The community at large scratch their heads and wonder but more hopefully, suspiciously question, why the cancer (and to a lesser extent, asthma) rates are so high in this day and age. Some say that incidences of cancer have always been like this, it’s just that we have better testing for it now. Open your eyes! The Australian Government website has an extensive “State of Knowledge Report” on Air Toxics and Indoor Quality in Australia which is extensive in it’s information. I have gleaned some areas that I think should be highlighted, especially for indoor air quality with regard to infant and children’s health and safety. Not to mention your own.

There are 28 priority air toxic pollutants in our homes today. Not out in the atmosphere over industrial plants or in the ‘big cities’. IN OUR HOMES. 28 acknowledged air toxic pollutants listed by the Government as priority safety concerns. (Definition: The NHMRC defines indoor air as any non-industrial indoor space where a person spends a period of an hour or more in any day. This can include the office, classroom, motor vehicle, shopping centre, hospital and home.) Here is the “28 Most Un-Wanted” list at paragraph 5.3 Priority Air Toxic Pollutants – recommended list. Now, this roll call of slightly familiar sounding words is meaningless unless you know their health effects. Read their Factsheets outlining  common uses, likely sources, and health & environmental effects. Also paragraph 1.1 Community concerns (excerpt “Exposure to air toxics can affect health, with effects ranging from none, through mild and immediate (eg watery eyes), to more extreme (eg lung damage, nervous system damage or even birth defects and cancer). The extent to which these adverse effects present themselves depends on a number of factors such as the type of air toxic to which a person is exposed and the length and severity of the exposure.“)

Formaldehyde was predominantly the reason for my research. I was already very aware of pressed wood products such as couches (framework, but also fabric), dining tables & chairs, bookshelves, kitchen cabinets and benchtops and a swathe of other household furniture containing glue with Formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. Mainly because I hated the smells I experienced walking through ‘cheap’ furniture stores I sought to find out what it was. You need not Google too far to find that there are a lot of complaints out there regarding eye, nose, throat, chest and breathing difficulties after buying a new piece of ‘cheap’ furniture. Here’s one example of a man’s new purchase of a simple, unassuming bookshelf from a major retailer going horribly wrong. I’m guessing his story is similar to a lot of experiences in Australia and around the world but most don’t dedicate a website to finding out more and reaching out to others who have had similar experiences.

In his extensive correspondence with the ‘retailer’ he very correctly summarises the very real concerns for babies sleeping in a nursery filled with brand new furniture for their arrival. “Formaldehyde can cause serious health problems, particularly in those too young to complain, e.g. babies who might have such furniture in their bedrooms and yet sleep there night after night, being unable to communicate that they feel ill.

Excerpt “We can better understand ageing if we realise that the formaldehyde emission is typically due to two processes, with both of those processes declining as the sample ages. Initially, much of the formaldehyde emission is due to the release of trapped formaldehyde – that emission falls as the trapped formaldehyde is used up. When the trapped formaldehyde has gone, emission of formaldehyde that is produced by chemical reactions continues – that process declines more slowly. The net effect is that as the product ages, the formaldehyde emission falls initially comparatively rapidly, then later more slowly, but never quite reaches zero. The timescale involved is typically a matter of months or years.” This is my primary reason for stating in article Hand me Downs “Old is Gold!” Buy second hand and the majority of outgassing will have already taken place.

Unfortunately formaldehyde is not just in our furniture, it’s used in darn near everything. We are exposed in nearly every facet of our daily lives from the treatment of seeds of the plants we eat, chicken and cattle for parasites to the glue in our furniture (particleboard in our couches, desks, tables, tv cabinets, bookshelves etc) and surface coatings, to the petrol in our cars, to the dyes in our clothes and permanent press items, skin disinfectants, mouth washes, spermicides…the list really goes ON and ON and ON. I have included it below for your ease of reference. I’m floored by the extensive areas Formaldehyde is utilised intentionally in our society. It’s absolute insanity.

The factsheet for Formaldehyde shows why it the most recognised of all human carcinogens littered throughout our everyday lives. It’s everywhere. It’s common uses, method of exposure, effects on our health, the environment and it’s animals is extracted below. I urge your to read it and view your world ‘wide-eyed’ when you next head out shopping for that new couch that’s soooo affordable you just HAVE to have it.

Or even more concerning, plan to paint your new baby’s nursery walls, buy a brand new cot, change table, chest of drawers, toy chest, put up new curtains, lay new carpet, buy a new rug and a swathe of ‘flame retardant/low fire danger’ PBDE doused clothing for the arrival of your precious baby. Think twice about everything you put in your baby’s room and on their bodies! Buy organic clothing for them the first 6 months of life. They aren’t even crawling till that age so fancy coloured clothing and shoes are really unnecessary till later on.

Clause 6.4 Sensitive Sections in the Community (excerpt “Significant proportions of the population have a greater sensitivity to pollutants. These commonly include newborns, young children, the elderly, heart patients, those with bronchitis, asthma, hayfever or emphysema, and smokers. These population sectors will be at greatest risk from pollutant exposures and, according to the Allergy, Sensitivity, Environmental Health Association (1998), deserve ‘special consideration’. The higher risk to children is a result of their higher metabolic rate, higher intake of airborne pollutants and lower resilience, resulting in a two to four times higher absorption rate (Gilbert and Black 2000)…. Exposure to environmental toxics (not necessarily airborne) has been suggested as one of a number of factors which may be associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention deficit disorder and, to a lesser extent, chronic fatigue syndrome. However, the causes of these disorders are poorly understood, and it is not currently possible to make any definitive statements about their possible links to airborne pollutants.

If you are unable to attain ‘source emission control’ (ie. avoiding cheap products such as pressed wood furniture; couches, tables, chairs, kitchen kits, carpets and rugs etc) thereby sourcing healthier materials/purchases for your household, then at the very, very least you can take steps to improve your indoor air quality.The simpliest thing you can do to ‘improve’ your indoor air quality is ensure your home is well ventilated every single day. If you have air conditioning and the weather is hot, it’s tempting not to. But even for an hour or two, open the doors and windows completely and let fresh air and in condensed old air out. Remember that while your house is shut up through the night you and your children are breathing these toxic air pollutants listed by the Australian Government. Minimise your purchase of new furniture by buying 2nd hand goods from Ebay and the like. Definitely avoid brand new purchases for your baby’s nursery and if you can’t afford organic or human & environmentally friendly purchases “Old is Gold“.

Introduction para 6.1Despite the long periods we spend indoors, relatively little research has been done on the quality of air in our homes, schools, recreational buildings, restaurants, public buildings and offices or inside cars. In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by the US EPA and its Science Advisory Board have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.

At clause 6.2 Indoor Air Pollutants there is also the much bigger list capturing things like dust mites, tobacco smoke, acetone, ethyl acetate etc and clause 6.3 Health effects as a result of exposure to pollutants (Excerpt “The occupants of buildings with poor indoor air quality can suffer from severe effects (asthma, allergic response, cancer risk) to mild and generally non-specific symptoms. Some health effects may show up years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure, and thus can be characterised as long-term health effects. These effects, which include respiratory diseases and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. Long-term health effects are associated with indoor air pollutants such as radon, asbestos, and environmental tobacco smoke.“.

In addition to the Priority Air Toxic Pollutants, Clause 7.1 Broad Categories and Sources for Indoor Air Pollutants.Sources of indoor air pollutants include building operations and construction materials, household products, external factors and various human indoor activities.

Broad Categories and Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants Clause 7.2 Criteria pollutants in the indoor environment (Excerpt “Table 7.2 summarises the main indoor air pollutants, their important sources and typical concentration ranges, as well as some possible responses.“) It then goes on at 7.2.1 to list all of the air pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide, Lead, Radon, VOC’s and Formaldehyde.

I’m no expert. I’m still learning every day about pollutants in the furniture we buy, the consumer products we use and the food we eat. But I’m searching for knowledge. For the sake of you and your family, I hope you do too.

In my research travels I’ve come across some interesting articles on this topic of toxic exposure in our homes, food, environment, our bodies and ultimately what should be most sacred and protected of all…our breastmilk. I’ll comment on these as I find the time. I’m currently enjoying the challenge of raising two very beautiful, very active (and slightly whingey!) 19 month old girls. Please join my site to join in the conversation and share your own experiences!

The Age: Furnishings Key to Infertility?

7:30 Report: Tests Confirm Alarming Contaminant Levels in Food

Slow Death by Rubber Duck

The Story of Stuff

Organic Baby Sleepwear – Avoiding PBDE’s

Written by admin on February 5th, 2011. Posted in Baby Clothing

Babies sleep anywhere up to 20 hours a day during their first few months so whatever you choose to dress them in should be very soft, comfortable and made from natural preferably organic fibres. Avoid buying stacks of el-cheapo singlets and onesies from the main outlets and go for just a couple of quality organic ones. Brightly coloured clothing means loads of dye and that’s the last thing you want on your new born baby’s skin. If your budget is very strained and you can only buy cheapies, just buy a couple and wash them 3 or 4 times before putting them on your baby. You can then feel you’ve done your best to rid as much chemical as possible before use. And because you have fewer of them it means they’re washed more often and that’s a good thing for getting out the dangerous chemicals they may be doused in over in China. Watch out for “fire retardant” or “low fire danger” tagged clothing as they have been treated with a nasty chemical known as PBDE.

Look out for tags saying “Low Fire Danger”. It means the garment has been treated with dangerous Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s).

Information on the chronic health effects of PBDE below.

“Flame-retardants are in widespread use in both the U.S. and Canada, primarily in carpet padding, foam cushions, polyester bedding and clothing, wallpaper, and the plastic housings for computers, faxes and other electronics. Most are made from variations of a chemical known as PBDE, which stands for polybrominated diphenyl ether.

According to the Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDE), in laboratory studies some PBDEs have been shown to cause problems in rodent brain development. “Most of these problems stem from pre-natal exposure and exposure soon after birth. The health effects appear to be permanent,” says WSDE. They are quick to point out, though, that levels in humans have not (yet) reached the levels that cause problems in lab animals, but that scientists are concerned because the levels in humans keep rising.

PBDEs are “persistent” in that they don’t break down but remain active in our air, water, soil and food. WSDE says that PDBEs are building up in animals throughout the food chain, even turning up in orca whales in Puget Sound in Washington and in the bodies of polar bears in the Arctic.

PBDEs also stay in our bodies, accumulating in our fatty tissue. The U.S. is the world’s largest maker and user of PBDEs, and levels found in Americans are as much as 100 times higher than in Europe, where most PDBEs were banned in 2001. North American levels, say scientists, are doubling every two to five years. Primarily, human exposure has been through eating fish, though babies can be exposed by drinking mother’s milk. Children are also exposed when they wear polyester pajamas treated with flame retardant. Indeed, PDBE chemicals easily “off-gas” from the very products they are designed to make safe.

Consumers can take precautions and avoid products that contain PBDE. Among other cautions, the Healthy Children Project recommends buying clothing, bedding and furniture made from natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, which do not melt near heat and as such do not need to contain flame-retardants.”

If your budget doesn’t allow for purchasing Organic clothing read ideas in article Pre-Loved Clothing – Avoiding PBDE’s

I may actually write a dedicated article explaining PBDE Fire Retardants and their health impacts based on findings from the Australian Government 2006 study. I’ll highlight excerpts of importance and break down the findings into key points so it’s easy to reach the important information. For those who are concerned about PBDE’s but are time poor, wading through all of these documents just isn’t possible. So stay tuned. More to come.