Fabric Softeners Trigger Allergies
Posted by Shifrah on Monday, September 20, 2010
Fabric softeners can lead to allergies and eczema.When it comes to laundry and allergies, we may think of how it's important to wash bedding frequently in the hottest water possible, or with the addition of an allergy detergent, in order to kill dust mites. However, it's equally important to realize that products we might use while doing our laundry – like fabric softeners – can also cause problems, especially for allergy sufferers, as an article on the Dayton Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeons, Inc. website highlights.

This information isn't new. In the May 2000 issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Anderson Laboratories revealed that fabric softeners emit chemicals that cause respiratory tract inflammation and irritation, including toluene, styrene, phenol, thymol, xylene and trimethylbenzene, among other chemicals.

The very nature of fabric softeners makes them particularly dangerous: The product is formulated to remain in the fibers of the fabric for a long time. Hence, the chemicals slowly release, affecting the air and the health of those who wear fabric softener-treated clothing.

As always, those with weak immune systems are most affected by these chemicals; elderly individuals and babies are particularly vulnerable to their effects, which include diarrhea, frequent crying, and rashes in infants. Alarmingly, there may also be a connection between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the use of fabric softeners on baby clothing and bedding. Eczema is also a concern when using fabric softener. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that those with eczema "avoid fabric softener."

In adults, some symptoms caused by fabric softener fumes are tiredness that is not cured by resting, difficulty breathing, nervousness for no known reason, difficulty concentrating and remembering, dizziness, headaches, sick stomach, feeling faint, rashes and/or difficulty controlling body movements.

For more information on chemicals found in fabric softeners and their health risks, see Fabric Softeners = Health Risks.

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