Fabric softeners help keep clothes soft and colorful. While many people use fabric softeners while they do their laundry, most are unaware of the chemicals that softeners use. Many softener manufacturers do not go into detail about the compounds they use to help soften fabric. Unfortunately, many softeners are made from a wide mixture of chemicals that can have potentially hazardous effects on the human body over time.
Read more: What Are the Dangers of Fabric Softeners? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_7588099_dangers-fabric-softeners.html#ixzz2JhHu6n72 1. rritation
* Fabric softener companies do warn that their products can cause irritation, especially the liquid versions, and advise that you do not allow any fabric softener to touch your skin or your eyes. Some of the chemicals used to create these softeners are caustic and can cause itching or burning problems when the products accidentally contact skin.
* Other chemicals in fabric softeners can cause lung problems and more significant irritation if they are inhaled. Benzyl alcohol, a common ingredient, acts as an upper respiratory tract irritant, while other compounds like A-Terpineol and pentane can also cause lung damage. These chemicals can cause asthma, especially in younger children.
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* Carcinogens are compounds that have been linked to causing cancer. It is difficult to pinpoint the substances that can actually cause cancer, and those linked to sufficient evidence are often banned (like asbestos). However, other chemicals may have been linked to cancer in some studies but have not yet been examined thoroughly enough to determine a direct link. Chemicals like chloroform and limonene are known as carcinogens and show up in fabric softeners.
Nervous System Damage
* Many of the compounds that cause skin irritation or may increase the possibility of cancer can also have a cumulative toxic effect if they are accidentally ingested. Ethanol, camphor and linalool can all cause nervous system damage. So can the previously mentioned chloroform and A-terpineol. Toxin exposure results in symptoms including dizziness, nausea, headaches, numbness and pain in the neck and spine.
* Some fabric softeners use tallow, a waxy material that can help protect clothing and keep it from being damaged as easily by stains. However, tallow can also render towels ineffective at absorbing water; since tallow repels liquids, towels can struggle to perform their jobs in bathrooms and kitchens. Tallow is also dangerous for the dryer lint filter, where it can cause clogging issues.
* The human nervous system develops a condition when constantly exposed to the toxic chemicals that fabric softeners leave in clothing, becoming chronically maladapted to their presence. The effect the toxins have on the nervous system, though negative, can create an addictive-type response when they are constantly present. The nervous system begins to expect the toxins to be there and someone affected may not associate problems with fabric softener products, even on a physical level. This problem is exacerbated by fabric softeners that impregnate fabrics and continue to release their compounds over a long period of time.
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The Toxic Danger of Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
Many people will remember a famous TV ad where a woman races to her washing machine, fabric softener in hand, only to arrive just as the wash ends. This woman who “e;forgot to ad the fabric softener”e; was actually doing herself and her family a favor. Although they may make your clothes feel soft and smell fresh, fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products around. And chances are thatthe staggering 99.8 percent of Americans who use common commercial detergents, fabric softeners, bleaches, and stain removers would think twice if they knew they contained chemicals that could cause cancer and brain damage. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets with scents like April Fresh and Summer Orchard add toxic chemicals to your laundry and, consequently, your body.| Here is a list of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:
* Benzyl acetate:Linked to pancreatic cancer
* Benzyl Alcohol:Upper respiratory tract irritant
* Ethanol:On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
* Limonene:Known carcinogen
* A-Terpineol:Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
* Ethyl Acetate:A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
* Camphor:Causes central nervous system disorders
* Chloroform:Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
* Linalool:A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
* Pentane:A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
So how could products with pretty names like Soft Ocean Mist, Summer Orchard and April Fresh be so dangerous? The chemicals in fabric softeners are pungent and strong smelling — so strong that they require the use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the smells. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics, which are the reason fabric softeners were created in the first place, do not smell good either when heated in a dryer or heated by our bodies … hence the need for even more hefty fragrances. In other words, remove all the added fragrance that endears people to fabric softeners and — like the cliché wolf in sheep’s clothing — the real smells of the chemical-laced fabric softener and the synthetic fabrics they were designed around may prompt people to shoot their laundry machines and be done with it. Are “e;Soft”e; Clothes Worth It?
Fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb. Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the environment. Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include: * Central nervous system disorders
* Blood pressure reduction
* Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
* Pancreatic cancer
A 100% Non-Toxic, Economical Solution!The Static Eliminator’s woven sheets take static cling out, and soften fabric without any toxic chemicals whatsoever — plus they areincredibly economical, as one box can be used to maximum effectiveness 500 times! (Or go for the super-economical double-pack for 1000 loads!) * Completely Non-Toxic: The unique technology is based on the weave of the cloth so it is chemical-free! * Very Economical! Each box highly effective for 500 loads of laundry! (To do 500 loads with chemical based dryer sheets takes 13 boxes!) * 100% Hypoallergenic — Safe for infants, allergy sufferers, eczema sufferers, and the chemically sensitive * Softens Clothes & Eliminates Staticwithout any harsh toxins
* Safe for Even the Most Delicate Fabrics * Works at Any Heat Setting , with any amount of clothing * Won’t Stain or Spot Clothing * Easier to Use & Reduces Waste: Unlike conventional dryer sheets that must be discarded, just leave the 100% safe polynylon Static Eliminator sheet right in the dr yer for load after load * Won’t Clog Up Your Dryer Vents because it contains NO chemicals!Learn More About Static Eliminator Now!| Soften Your Clothes Safely With These Tips
Even if you don’t feel the effects of these chemicals today, they can affect you gradually over time, and children, whose systems are still developing, are particularly at risk.There’s really no reason to expose yourself to these risky chemicals when natural alternatives exist. Not only are they safer for you, your family and the environment, but they’re much more economical too: * Learn about Static Eliminator, a 100% safe, non-toxic dryer sheet system that is more effective at softening clothes and eliminating static cling but poses no risk to you and your family! This is one of the most highly recommended of all products we have reviewed, and you will find it is also extremely economical, too!
* Add a quarter cup of baking soda to wash cycle to soften fabric * Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to rinse to soften fabric and eliminate cling * Check out your local health food store for a natural fabric softener that uses a natural base like soy instead of chemicals It’s likely that fabric softeners and dryer sheets aren’t the only toxic products in your home. Many household products that consumers regard as safe are also full of toxic chemicals. Our past articles onPEG Compounds in CosmeticsandPhenols in Common Household Cleansersare two of the all-time most popular articles on SixWise.com and will make you more aware of the pervasiveness of harmful chemicals that can be eliminated from your home.
The Hidden Life Of…
By Chris Borris
Ah, clean! Fresh-smelling towels, chubby-cheeked cherubs snuggling into soft blankets that have been lovingly bathed in chlorine, benzene, formaldehyde . . . what?! That’s not part of the image, but it is the reality for the 99.8 percent of Americans who use common commercial detergents, fabric softeners, bleaches, and stain removers. Plus doing our laundry burns through hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil and sends millions of pounds of chlorine into our air and water each year. But we don’t have to put our health—or the environment—at risk to get our clothes brighter and whiter. Recipes for homemade greener cleaners abound, and nontoxic, eco-friendly laundry products are no longer rare. Looking for the best of the conventional brands, on the other hand, isn’t always easy. Cleaning-product ingredients are considered “trade secrets,” so manufacturers aren’t required to list all of them on the label. (Environmentally friendly brands often do list ingredients, since they have nothing to hide.)
Philip Dickey, staff scientist at the Washington Toxics Coalition, advises consumers to look for products with specific, rather than general, claims: “90 percent biodegraded in three days,” not just “biodegradable”; “contains no phosphates,” not simply “environmentally safe.” Detergents and Bleaches: Thanks to activist efforts, many major makers of laundry products have reduced their use of phosphates, minerals that promote rapid (and ecologically dangerous) algae growth in lakes and streams. But the active ingredients in most detergents (called “surfactants”) are still derived from petroleum, so the environmental damage starts with drilling, spilling, and refining oil—and can end with toxic residues contaminating our water and soil. Artificial fragrances, bleaches, and other additives in these “spring fresh” brews can cause rashes and aggravate asthma. Avoid these dangers by cleaning the old-fashioned way: with plant-based, fragrance-free soaps (and non-chlorine bleaches).
Dry Cleaning: Ever notice a harsh chemical smell clinging to your dry-cleaned clothes? That’s perchloroethylene, or “perc,” a solvent that can cause dizziness, fatigue, confusion, nausea, and skin irritation in high doses, and—for those exposed to it repeatedly—liver damage and increased risk of miscarriage. Our air, soil, and water fare little better than our bodies: According to Greenpeace, 10 percent of drinking-water wells in California are contaminated with perc. And incinerating the chemical along with other hazardous waste generates dioxins and other pollutants. The Federal Trade Commission is proposing changing “dry-clean only” labels to recognize alternative methods, including “wet cleaning,” a nontoxic, nonpolluting process that uses water and biodegradable soap. To find a wet cleaner near you, consult the Professional Wetcleaning Network (www.tpwn.net). Stain Removers and Fabric Softeners: They may make your clothes look and feel clean, but these products can leave your garments tainted by formaldehyde and irritating synthetic fragrances. Spot removers also contain the pernicious perchloroethylene.
A healthier alternative is probably as close as your kitchen cupboard: Some swear by egg yolk and lukewarm water for coffee stains, or sour milk or lemon juice followed by a salt rub and sun-drying for rust. Home Safe Home author Debra Lynn Dadd favors an all-purpose mixture of borax dissolved in cold water to treat blood, chocolate, coffee, and mildew stains. Clothes can be softened by adding baking soda during the rinse cycle. Look for a fabric softener with a natural base (such as soy) rather than one made from chemicals. Washing: Why waste 40 gallons of water to do an average load of laundry?
Front-loading washers use one-third to one-half the water and less soap than conventional top-loaders—and they’re gentler on clothes and wring them drier in the spin cycle, cutting dryer time and energy use. Although they may cost twice as much as conventional washers, Consumers Union estimates that you can earn the money back in as little as six years of savings on water and energy bills. (The EPA’s Energy Star program provides buying tips atwww.energystar.gov.)
Use even less energy by choosing the cold-water cycle, reserving warm water for your grimiest duds. Since 86 percent of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating the water, one household can eliminate 1,600 pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions by washing in cold. Drying: The saints among us line-dry every load. The rest of us can make sure dryers are efficient, vented, cleaned, and kept in a heated space. Use the cooler permanent-press cycle, which takes advantage of residual heat. And try line-drying, at least in the summer: Not only will you prevent hundreds of pounds of CO2 from warming our planet, but your clothes will smell great, too. http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200209/hidden_printable.asp