Textile Toxins 101

For tips on reducing household toxins and creating healthier and greener lifestyle for your family, check out Green Moms Collective. This website is my go-to for articles from other green moms, experts, advocates, and regular folks trying to make better decisions for their families.

I was happy to be asked to contribute to their series on reducing exposure to textile toxins.  Moms like me who don’t have PhDs in chemistry still want to know about the compounds in our everyday items in our homes.


Did you know that everyday textiles like polyester and conventional cotton may have the following toxins woven into the fabric:


Formaldehyde (a classified carcinogen) in fabric

Phthalates (endoctrine disruptor) in toys, polyester fabrics

Antimony (carcinogen) in polyester, fabric dyes, and plastics

Cobalt (carcinogen) in fabric dyes, toys, clothing, polyester


See the full article about these toxins:

Harmful Textiles: Toxins Woven into Everyday Materials


Here are some ways to reduce exposure to textile toxins:


1.    No polyester baby/kids’ bedding products


Polyester contains antimony that is a known carcinogen.

Antimony trioxide is used in the manufacturing of polyester and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics (the ones used for plastic bottles). It is also used as a “synergist to flame retardants in textiles, plastics, paints, etc.

Read more about antimony.


Studies also find phthalates, cobalt and other toxins in polyester fabrics.


The first place to eliminate polyester is in baby’s blankets and bedding.  That’s a no-brainer – carcinogenic petroleum phthalate nastiness in our wee baby’s bed? Madness.

Lovely soft natural alternatives are out there.

Exhibit A: Dream Child’s organic sherpa cotton baby blanket

Dream Child’s organic sherpa cotton baby blanket


Sherpa cotton provides a great alternative to polyester.

Soft, breathable, natural. Grown in the USA, sewn in Canada. It’s a dream come true!

Organic.  Made from 100% organic cotton and 100% US-grown organic Sherpa cotton.

Toxin-free. No toxic pesticides were used in the production of the cotton. No harmful dyes were used. No GMO seeds. Just sustainable practices that nurture the soil, use less water, and protect livelihoods of local farmers.

Plush. The plush rise of the Sherpa cotton is like the coziest fleecey lining of your favourite sweater.

Sweat-shop free.  Sewn with great care by women in Toronto getting their feet back on the ground through the support of a social services agency called Sistering.

Breathable. Sherpa is a naturally breathable fabric. It doesn’t stick to the skin like synthetic fibres do. It will naturally wick away moisture and regulate baby’s temperature.

Versatile. While designed to fit a crib, this blanket is also perfect for snuggling in the stroller or the car, or as a soft spot for tummy time. Really there’s no limitations for where the snuggling can happen.


This is a baby blanket made for snuggling. Mom and dad can rest easy knowing that this snuggle is free from toxins that are found in many polyester baby blankets.


2.    Avoid foam mattresses and pillows


Foam is made from petroleum and contains many chemical additives including formaldehyde, benzene and other established toxic chemicals.  This is bad nasty off-gassing stuff.

When buying mattresses or pillows, look for organic cotton, wool, or latex (natural rubber).

Cotton and wool won’t burst into flames, are natural, non-toxic and breathable. To avoid off-gassing foam pillows, wool pillows are a good alternative.


Exhibit B: Organic wool toddler pillows

Organic Wool Toddler Pillow


Wool is effective at absorbing moisture and keeping your little one cooler as they sleep compared to other conventional pillows that don’t breathe as well. Wool is also naturally dustmite resistant.

The wool filling in the Organic Wool Pillow regulates temperature to make sure your little one will never feel too hot.  The carded wool retains its loft better than cotton and provides medium firm support to the head and neck.


3.    Don’t buy the “poison plastic” – PVC (vinyl)


PVC is made from phthalates that mimic human hormones. The chemicals can be released into the environment because the binds they form with plastics are weak.


Do not buy vinyl covered mattresses for babies and kids. There are plenty of better kid’s mattresses to choose. For those of us with hand-me-down mattresses, wrap the mattress in thick organic cotton or wool mattress covers. Also, some products use low density food grade polyethylene for waterproofing mattresses, or mattress covers. These are phthalate free.


4.    Beware: Chemicals in Conventional Cotton


Conventional cotton is treated with a myriad of chemicals: silicone waxes, petrochemical dyes,  formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, dioxin-producing bleach, chemical fabric softeners and brighteners, flame retardents, and ammonia, to name a few.


Phthalates that attack the hormone system are in many pesticides used in production of conventional cotton. Up to 77 million cotton workers a year suffer poisoning from pesticides.


Azo dyes in conventional cotton contain a heavy metal that can “migrate” from the fabric, with possible risk of skin penetration. The European Commission’s Health and Consumers Scientific Committee warned that textile goods coloured with azo dyes are linked to cancer causing toxins, and should be a concern for consumers (and not to mention workers).


Given that baby and kids’ skin has a natural sensitivity, the health risk of exposure to azo dyes could be high.


5.   Organic cotton for baby and kids’ beds


Organic cotton is free from all toxic chemicals.


Cotton is naturally flame resistant so organic cotton products don’t contain flame retardants. There are no harmful dyes or other additives in organic cotton.


Rick Smith, author of Toxin, Toxout stated that if there was one place he would invest in organic products it would be in kids’ beds.


We agree! That’s what we’re all about here at Dream Child, providing a safe option for kids. I don’t want toxins in my kids beds and I”m sure you don’t want them for your kids either.


Dream Child’s products are made from 100% organic cotton


Be sure to read the full series on avoiding harmful toxins on the Green Moms Collective website.




Recent Comments

  1. Keep up the hard work and message about toxins -one day it is going to sink in and we will all demand less toxins in everything!! Love the exhibits!! Good work! m xoxo

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