Toxic Fabric Softeners
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Do you know the worst chemicals in your laundry basket and what to use instead?
Quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) - Make clothes feel soft and wearable right out of the wash, but some are known to trigger asthma and may be toxic to the reproductive system. Check labels and the product websites for these ingredients, and avoid them: distearyldimonium chloride and others ending in “monium chloride,” as well as vague terms like “biodegradable fabric softening agent” and “cationic surfactant.”
Fragrance - There are nearly 4,000 fragrance ingredients in household products, and there is no way to determine what they are. Your fabric softener may contain phthalates, which disperse scent; synthetic musks such as galactoside, which accumulate in the body; and more. Fragrance mixes can cause allergies, skin irritations such as dermatitis, difficulty breathing, and potential reproductive harm. Research shows that scents may also cause health problems when vented outdoors, especially for asthmatics and those sensitive to chemicals.
Preservatives and colors – Like “fragrance,” the terms “preservatives,” “colors,” or “colorants” on an ingredient label may refer to any number of chemicals. The most worrisome preservatives in fabric softeners include the potent skin allergen methylisothiazolinone and glutaral, known to trigger asthma and skin allergies. Glutaral, or glutaraldehyde, is also toxic to marine life. Among the artificial colors, D&C violet 2 has been linked to cancer. Others may contain impurities that can cause cancer.
So avoid mystery cocktails and chemicals of concern in fabric softeners and conditioners, whether in pellets, crystals, bars, or single-dose packs. Or skip it altogether and try the following:
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