Thursday, August 30, 2007

Activist's Corner

Activist's Corner

Letter regarding fabric softeners:

Dear XXX,

I am concerned about fabric softener product emissions harming the children and pets in our neighborhood. Have you noticed how many of the children have asthma? I am wondering if you are aware of that scientific studies have found dangerous chemicals in common fabric softeners?

Anderson Laboratories, Inc., located in West Hartford, Vermont, conducted a study in 2000 to determine whether there is any biological basis for complaints that fabric softener emissions can cause acute adverse effects in certain individuals. Using mice, researchers exposed them to the emissions of five commercial fabric softener dryer sheets, one at a time and found the emissions induced sensory irritation, pulmonary irritation, and airflow limitation, revealing mild inflammation of the lungs.

What is in these dryer sheets are respiratory irritants that contribute to allergies, asthma, multiple chemical sensitivities, and other respiratory disorders. The researchers performed gas chromatography / mass spectroscopy analysis of the emissions of one dryer sheet and found isopropylbenzene, styrene, trimethylbenzene, phenol, and thymol, all well known respiratory irritants!

Dry laundry, much like that which we wear each day, was shown to emit sufficient chemical residue to cause sensory irritation. The researchers went on to place a dryer sheet in a room overnight to see if it would have any effect. Sure enough, that single sheet doubled the rate of sensory irritation that wearing dry clothing produced. Pet's and small children, due to their smaller size, are much more vulnerable to these chemical emissions than adults. The results of this study provide a toxicological basis to explain human complaints of adverse reactions to fabric softener emissions.

I have been having difficulty breathing when you wash too. Would you be willing to try some alternatives? I'd be happy to provide a sample for you to try free of charge. A few of my favorites are ¼ to 1 cup of white distilled vinegar at the start of the rinse cycle, 1 cup of glycerin per gallon of water added as ½ cup to rinse cycle, 1 cup of baking soda at the start of the wash cycle, a clean, old tennis ball/shoe in the dryer to soften clothes and reduce static, and a washcloth soaked in 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and placed in the dryer to reduce static.

I appreciate your willingness to help improve the air in our neighborhood! Please let me know if you have any other ideas.



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