Green Tip – Avoid Toxic Flame Retardants

EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from less flammable naturalLamb from Ravencroft Farm materials or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives.

Chemical flame retardants have become very common in consumer products. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the most toxic are brominated fire retardants (BFRs), which include chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Our nation’s chemical laws don’t adequately protect us from the harmful effects of flame retardants and these chemicals are commonly found in our homes and offices.

Scientists have found that exposure to even small amounts of toxic fire retardants such as PBDEs at critical points in development can damage reproductive systems and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and hearing, as well as changes in behavior. And, according to Rodale News, research on PBDEs suggest the chemicals interfere with thyroid hormones and they can affect neurological development.

Read EWG’s report on PBDEs in mothers and their toddlers to learn more about children’s exposures.

Until all PBDEs are banned from consumer products (including imports) and fire safety regulations are revised to promote safer solutions, American families – especially our children – will continue to be needlessly exposed to harmful chemicals.

PBDEs are most commonly found in polyurethane foam products (like couches and upholstered chairs, mattresses and pads, futons, pillows, children’s car seats and carpet padding, among many others), but are also in hundreds of other everyday products, including electronics equipment (like TVs, remotes, and cell phones), lighting, wiring, building materials, textiles, furniture and industrial paints.

One way you can reduce you family’s exposure  is to avoid toxic flame retardants whenever possible. Choose products made from materials that are naturally fire resistant or made by manufacturers who use safer alternatives.

Some parents are concerned that their children will be exposed to chemicals while wearing fire-retardant pajamas. Pajamas are not treated with PBDEs, though synthetic fabrics are often made with a chemical additive to make them fire resistant. Chemicals used in sleepwear labeled “fire resistant” will remain in the fabric for at least 50 washes. To avoid any chemicals in sleepwear and reduce the risk of igniting sleepwear, EWG suggests you choose natural fibers that are inherently fire resistant and snug-fitting. And, of course, keep kids away from matches, candles and cigarettes.

Source: Environmental Working Group

 Benefits of Wool:

  • Wool is a breathable natural material.
  • Wool can be produced sustainably.
  • Wool is hypoallergenic.
  • Wool will not harbor dust mites. Dust mites don’t like wool!
  • Wool resists bacteria.
  • Wool is fire resistant.
  • Wool is cool in the summer yet warm in the winter.
  • Unlike down bedding which uses plucked down feathers, a sheep grows a coat of wool annually and is not harmed during the shearing process. More information about down bedding production.
  • Wool surpasses synthetic fill in terms of quality, durability, breathability, sustainability, and the embodied energy and chemicals needed to produce synthetic fill.
  • Unlike down bedding which shifts over time (ie. bare spots in a comforter), wool stays in place.
  • With proper care your woolen bedding can last for decades.
  • Wool can be composted and recycled at the end of it’s lifecycle.
There is hope
In May 2013, Vermont passed the nation’’s strongest bill to protect children and fire fighters from unnecessary and harmful flame retardant chemicals (S.81, vote:141-0) by banning their use in children’s products and home furniture.

According to the Vermont Public Interest Research and Education Fund (VPIRG), “Flame retardant chemicals targeted in this bill, particularly chlorinated Tris (Tris), are widely used in children’s products -– high chairs, car seats, nursing pillows, changing pads, and more –- and recent studies found Tris in the majority of couches on the market today. These chemicals migrate out of these products into air and dust, and from there enter our bodies.

Human exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, lowered IQ, decreased fertility, and more. Especially concerning are the high levels of the toxins found in toddlers and infants, whose developing bodies are particularly susceptible to these negative health impacts. Further, studies show that these chemicals don’t work to slow the spread of fires, and actually make fires more dangerous for fire fighters by releasing toxic gases when ignited.”

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Organic Authority

Organic Authority seeks to change the way Americans think about the word organic, washing away the grungy hippy image of the past. Their goal is to disseminate information while educating the public about the benefits of buying and choosing organic produce, meats, and products, while promoting sustainable living and an organic lifestyle. They believe that implementing small fundamental changes in the choices we make everyday will have a large impact on the future of healthy families around the world and protect Mother Earth for generations to come. This is an awesome site full of great information.

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