I just threw out all my kids' pajamas; all the fleecy, fuzzy Mario Bros, Angry Birds, Avengers, Ninja Turtles and snowmen playing football. No, I wasn't having a mommy tantrum. It wasn't a brain dead mommy moment either. Nope, I was lucid and calm, but not happy about it.
The reason I tossed my kids PJs is because they were flame resistant; said so right on the tags. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, it's not.
No, I certainly don't want my kids to catch on fire while wearing their jammies. But you know what concerns me more? Toxic chemicals.
Missing the Forest for the Trees
Here's what the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission says about kids pajamas,
To protect children from burns, these rules require that children's sleepwear must be flame resistant and self- extinguish if a flame from a candle, match, lighter or a similar item causes it to catch fire. The rules cover all children's sleepwear above size 9 months and up to size 14 and require that
(1) the fabric and garments must pass certain flammability tests; or
(2) be "tight fitting" as defined by specified dimensions.
What this means is that the majority of kids' pajamas are treated to be made flame resistant, especially synthetic or fleece materials.
The Danger of Flame Retardants
Mothering Magazine reports, "the most common chemicals used on pajamas are halogenated hydrocarbons (chlorine and bromine), antimony oxides, and phosphate based compounds. These offgas into the air kids breathe and are skin irritants."
HealthyChild.org found that "While flame retardant chemicals like chlorinated TRIS and PBDE have been phased out due to toxicity concerns, others remain, like tetrakis (hydroxymethyl) phosphonium chloride, a.k.a. "Proban" or "Securest." This popular treatment has been linked to a variety of health effects including genetic changes, cancer promotion, and liver and nervous system damage."
And yet, PracticallyGreen.com says that "One carcinogenic chemical, chlorinated Tris (TDCPP), which was removed from children's pajamas back in the 1970s was recently found by The Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States in 80 percent of new baby and children's products!"
Why This Bothers Me
I watch what we put in our bodies, avoiding processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fat, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, etc. I am careful about what we put on our skin; lotions, shampoo, sunscreen, makeup, skin creams, etc. I don't buy harmful chemical cleaners; we use Norwex, of course, cleaning mostly with microfiber and water (ask me how). We don't use products with harmful chemicals in our laundry room; we use Norwex there too.
I am careful to watch for other areas that chemicals could make their way into our home, but chemicals in the kids' pajamas, leaching out into the air, being inhaled, as my darlings sleep; that makes me mad!
There's a remedy. Not all kids' pajamas are flame resistant. It's not necessarily easy to find them and they probably aren't covered in your kids' favorite characters and they aren't necessarily cheap, but you can find them. Look for snug-fitting, long-underwear style jammies. You can always get them at Hanna Andersson and Gap Kids has some styles that are not flame resistant online. The tags must say whether they are flame resistant or not; so always check there to be sure.
The CPSC requires all sleepwear that is not flame-resistant to bear a label saying, "For child's safety, garment should fit snugly. This garment is not flame resistant. Loose-fitting garments are more likely to catch fire." Look for this bright yellow tag attached to the jammies; this is what you want to see. This means it is free of toxic flame retardant treatments.
This is important to me. I care what goes into my kids bodies. Kids are effected much more than we, as adults, are when it comes to chemical levels in our bodies. The rate of cancer and other conditions related to toxic chemicals is astounding and on the rise. The question I have begun to ask is not why did so-and-so get cancer, but why do we all not have cancer.
This post is not meant to frighten you, but to arm you with information. If you have information, you can make informed choices and make a difference for your family. And if we all make informed choices, we could change our communities, our country, our world.
Now is the time to start taking a stand against harmful chemicals; it's not too late, but we must stand up and DO something.
And please note that the federal regulations require kids' sleepwear to be flame-resistant because of external heat sources that a child might come in contact with, such as a fire in a fireplace, a candle, an electric heater, a lighter, etc. This requirement is not in place in order to protect a child from a house fire.
Therefore, if you choose to clothe your children in pajamas that are not flame resistant, do exercise extra caution around any open flames/heat sources, as I would hope you would do regardless of whether their pajamas are treated with toxic chemicals.
And I have more to say on several related topics too….coming soon.
So, are you tossing out your kids' pajamas? Over and out…