Is That “New Clothes” or “New Car” Smell Harming You?

Car InteriorThere are some scents that are so distinct that you can refer to them, and just about anyone can conjure the scent up in their mind because of their commonplace nature as well as their stature as somewhat “desirable”, simply by what they convey.

Most people love the status and “comfort” or “luxury” that typically is associated with having a new car as well as new clothes.  Both have that similar chemical scent, and it’s definitely a scent that most people consider a pleasant one.

The problem is, this scent is actually attributed to a chemical that is not healthy for the human body.  Being exposed to it and inhaling it for periods of time means that we are most likely also absorbing some of the chemical that creates the smell via our lung tissue, or even by skin contact.

This chemical is one that most people are now familiar with due to its notoriety as a human toxin.  This chemicals also happens to still be widely used in manufacturing – formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde (and Other Chemicals) Often Found in Clothing

Materials used to make clothing are often coated in formaldehyde as a cheap and effective means to keep the clothing from molding when being shipped overseas. Additionally, it may also be used as an actual part of the manufacturing process to help reduce wrinkling when laundering.  Anti-wrinkle clothing, particular that which is advertised as such, can be particularly chemical-heavy.  Many times in addition to formaldehyde, petrochemicals are often used as a means to help keep materials smooth and to keep that more “starched” look.

What can you do to reduce your exposure?  Well, the rule of thumb is to wash all of your clothing before you wear it. This helps reduce the chemical by washing it from your clothing (notice this also makes that “new” smell disappear).  You’ll therefore reduce your skin’s contact with the chemical, where you’ll invariable rub some of the chemical off and absorb it – especially if you are wearing a snug garment (undergarment especially), that rubs up against the skin a lot.

Also, when choosing clothing, to reduce chemical exposure, try to choose natural fibers like 100% cotton, and avoid synthetics like nylon, polyester and rayon. Not only are natural fibers general less treated and processed with chemicals, but they also happen to allow the skin to breathe more.

The “New Car” Smell

That scent of a new vehicle that so many people love when they buy a new car most often is in large part due to now only formaldehyde used in the manufacture of the materials in the vehicle, but are also due to a variety of other volatile compounds. These can include plasticizing agents, glues, cleaners and other chemical constituents used to make all that comprises the interior of the car.

In the most sensitive individuals, constant exposure, especially in a an unventilated car, can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea.  Which brings us to the next point – when you buy a new vehicle, try to ventilated it as often as possible – even when it’s sitting in the garage or another covered or protected area.

This way, the volatile compounds can “offgas” into the surrounding environment, and will no longer be going into your lungs when you’re inside the car. Sure, you lose that “new car smell”, but you’re also not exposing yourself unwittingly to a variety of airborne chemicals.

Hair Straightening TreatmentsFormaldehyde in Popular Hair Straightening Treatments

Formaldehyde has gotten a lot of negative press over the past few years for its high concentrations in certain popular hair straightening treatments.  These treatments usually are supposed to semi-permanently straighten and/or smooth out the hair’s texture.

The problem is, they contain more than a “safe” amount of formaldehyde.  Some brands do profess to be formaldehyde free, but there really is not yet a good resource that can tell us for sure which ones really are “free” of this toxic chemical.

The way it came to light is quite a few stylists who used the treatment on their clients a lot were complaining of headaches, nosebleeds and other upper respiratory irritations because they were breathing in the treatments on a regular basis.  It can also be incredibly toxic to the person receiving the treatment as well, wich scalp lesions and irritations, and the fumes that come out of the treatment as well. Inevitably, some of it would also enter the blood stream since the skin on the scalp can absorb it.





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