Toxic Load

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One of the simplest, most beneficial things that you can do to improve your health is to stop using dryer sheets! When our clients realize the importance of creating a toxin-free home, they want to know the best place to start making changes. We almost always suggest eliminating dryer sheets first since they affect us in two ways... through our respiratory system and our integumentary system, specifically our skin. Let me explain.

There are varying reports, but of the 84,000 chemicals manufactured and USED in the US only about 1% are tested for safety. ONE PERCENT! Since dryer sheet manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients, some independent studies have been done. One of those studies found they emitted 25 volatile air pollutants including those that were cancer-causing. Another one found the fumes to be irritating to the lungs, eyes, nose, and throat. Dryer sheets are a staple for many, so I just wanted to outline some facts about the toxicity concerns specifically.

Aside from being a fire hazard because of the residue that they leave on the lint screen, that same residue is rubbing against your and your children's skin. All. Day. Long. These chemicals are absorbed into your blood stream within 26 seconds. They build up in your body, and can directly affect your central nervous system. Here are the 7 most common chemicals found in dryer sheets, and their side effects:

☣️ Alpha-Terpineol causes central nervous system disorders. Can also cause loss of muscular coordination, central nervous system depression, and headache.

☣️ Benzyl Alcohol causes central nervous system disorders, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, central nervous system depression, and, in severe cases, death.

☣️ Camphor on the US EPA's Hazardous Waste list. Central nervous system stimulant, causes dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.

☣️ Chloroform on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Neurotoxic and carcinogenic.

☣️ Ethyl Acetate on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Narcotic. May cause headaches and narcosis and stupor.

☣️ Linalool causes central nervous system disorders. Narcotic. In studies of animals, it caused ataxic gait (loss of muscular coordination), reduced spontaneous motor activity, and depression.

☣️ Pentane causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors causes central nervous system depression.

I hope that helps to clarify why these seemingly innocent products create concern for our health and well-being. I do understand the desire for soft, static-free clothing, sheets and towels, though so let me offer you two alternate solutions:

These Organic Wool Dryer Balls add softness to clothing, reduce wrinkles, and can minimize static. Sprinkle them with some organic essential oils from this collection and you won't even miss those toxic sheets.

Or create your own DIY dryer sheets by:

1. Combining 3 parts hair conditioner like Dr. Bronner's Organic Lavender and Coconut with 1 part white vinegar in a jar and shake well.

2. Cut up an old 100% cotton t-shirt into 4×4-inch squares and add them to the jar. Shake well.

3. Remove the squares from the jar, wring them out, and let them air dry. Store the dried squares in a clean, empty jar.

4. To use, toss a square into the dryer with your clothes. You can use each square lasts for up to three loads. Be sure to save the used squares to make your next batch.

I am very grateful for the mounting research and awareness regarding the risks of continued and repeated exposure to dryer sheets! My hope is that this information will allow you to make an informed decision about using them in your own Living Well homes.

Lisa McCoskey