With modern life, we have embraced all the technologies that make our lives easier and in general they bring us many advantages. However, this isn’t always the case. In the case of materials, technological advances may not always be welcome. We’re surrounded by materials in our everyday living – we dress in them and sleep on them, as well as encounter them through upholstery. Are they doing us harm?
We are accustomed to exposure to natural materials. These natural fibres included cotton, hemp, wool, linen and silk. Now our clothing labels list new materials that have only recently been adapted for manufacture including rayon, polyester, acrylic and nylon. These materials were created to make our lives easier as the fabrics were meant to be easy to care for and didn’t require ironing. Are they worth it?
What’s the Damage?
Clothing is a well-known irritant when it comes to eczema. Its flare-ups are associated with synthetic materials, especially where petrochemicals have been involved in the production. They are known to stabilise colours and stop shrinkage of clothing, but also influence skin conditions.
Fabrics to Avoid
The following are believed to be the worst fabrics:
Polyester. This fabric is made from polymers of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid. Polyester is used frequently in the clothing industry.
Acrylic. This fabric has been linked to cancer according to the EPA
Rayon. This material is made from recycled wood pulp. To make it useable it has been treated with nasties including caustic soda, ammonia and sulphuric acid.
Acetate and triacetate. These cellulose based materials are made from wood and have been exposed to chemical processing to make them useable.
Nylon. Made from petroleum, it is a known irritant
Other materials that claim to be wrinkle free and stain resistant may have been chemically treated and should be avoided.
Which Materials are Safe?
Anything that is natural should be considered safe, with cotton and silk being the materials least likely to cause reactions in people. Materials such as cotton poplin fabric are an ideal choice when opting for natural fibres.
Be aware of natural fibres being treated with detergents and petrochemical dyes, as they are potentially toxic to the body and the environment.