Most fabric on the market is saturated with chemicals. Pesticides are doused on growing cotton, chemicals are used in the manufacturing of almost all fibers, petroleum is used in the creation of some man-made fabrics, and chemical dyes are used for color.

The result is degradation of the water, air and land where the crops are grown. The end product—from clothing to the furniture in your home—leeches onto the wearer and into the environment. Finally, landfills fill up with partially-biodegradable products that will continue to leech into the ground, our waterways and into the air.

Textiles are produced all over the world. Modern global chemical companies sell vast quantities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to third-world countries. The chemicals are used to combat the increasingly resistant pests that infest the plants used to make yarn fiber. And even though many of these chemicals have been banned in this country (like DDT and pyrethroids), they are legally used in other countries and some of these chemically-treated textiles are shipped back to the United States, as clothing and upholstery fabric.

Only corn is doused with more pesticides than cotton grown in United States. “1.25 pounds of pesticides, defoliants, and other chemicals are used to grow the cotton in every set of queen-size sheets, and up to one-third goes into every t-shirt. The EPA…lists seven of the most common pesticides used in cotton fields as ‘known human carcinogens.’” 17

According to Alan Berman, author of Your Naturally Healthy Home: “Two of the three biggest polluters in the US are manufacturers of synthetic yarns. Emissions include acetic acid, formaldehyde, solvents, chlorine substances, and other dangerous chemicals.” Acrylic, nylon, polyester and all other synthetic yarns are produced from polymers derived from petroleum by unsound processes.

Chemicals such as chlorine and formaldehyde are used for cleaning, bleaching and preshrinking during the processing of animal and vegetable fibers into fabric. Even more chemical treatments are applied to soften and produce wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Chemical residues from finishing and coloring processes can account for twenty percent of the weight of fabric.

Additional treatment to fabric; such as making a stain-resistant fabric, mothproofing and fireproofing are all made with dangerous chemicals. A common stain-resistant chemical contains PFO (perfluorocatanyl sulphate), which enters human tissue and is known to be carcinogenic. The EPA is trying to ban the use of this dangerous chemical.

Tomorrow, I will provide information on how to obtain eco-friendly fabrics for your home.

Excerpt from Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet, copyright 2007.

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