Friday, May 10, 2013

Toxicity of Textiles #2 Some Chemical finishes on cloth

I hope some of this information helps.  It is fifteen years past the time I did my research.  Thanks for the space in allowing me to put this out on the board.  It may help some understand more about the cloth we use in quilting although in the fifteen years since this was written, I'm sure more information is available.  Rosey

Formaldehyde has a slightly fishy, pungent odour. In recent years the government regulations have controlled the textile industry in North America in reducing the amount of formaldehyde allowed in the finishing of cloth.Off-shore production is not subject to regulations necessary in North America. Much of our quilt cotton comes from off-shore companies. Formaldehyde is used in cotton and synthetic clothing, bedding and cloth. It can be found in perma-press and durable press finishes, paper products, cleaning solutions, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, newsprint, pesticides, preservatives, antiseptics, deodorants, mildew prevention products and so on. Formaldehyde residues can also be found in auto exhaust, jet fuels, industrial emissions, photochemical smog and in the degassing of urea-formaldehyde products. Exposure to formaldehyde is known to cause a number of health related problems, such as: upper and lower respiratory tract irritations, burning and tearing in the eyes; burning of the mucous membrane system; skin rashes, asthma, headaches, dizziness, mild memory loss; mood disorders, disorientation; gastrointestinal problems and allergic-type reactions to foods as well as to other chemical pollutants in our present day environment.
PERMA PRESS or DURABLE PRESS COTTON CLOTH:  In 1964 Durable Press finishes began to be used in cloth. Durable press resins react with cellulose fibres to form crosslinks in the less crystalline areas of cellulose. These resins are polymethylol compounds formed by the reaction of aldehydes with amines. They include: melamine-formaldehyde, demethyloethyleneurea, urons, triazones and so on. Today the most widely used resin is DMDHEU or dimethyloldihydroxethyleneurea.
POLYESTER FIBRES: Polyester is a petroleum based product. (you can do the research into these fibres however, this type of polycotton cloth is seldom used in quilting these days)


DESIZING: Sizing finishes are applied to the yarns during the weaving process, particularly to the warp yarns to provide a protective coating for greater strength. Some are water soluble, others, such as oils and waxes, require harsh chemicals to remove them following the weaving process.
SCOURING: This is a process where all the impurities and the sizings are removed from the cloth. Cotton is generally scoured with a dilute solution of sodium hydroxide. Polyester cotton blends require solvents in the scouring process. The most common solvents used are: perchloroethylene, Trichloroethylene, 1.1.1.-trchlorpethane. The scouring process is followed by an alkaline wash and peroxide bleach.
BLEACHING: Hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, sulphur dioxide gas and sodium perborate are used.
SINGEING: This is a mechanical process used to burn the ends of the fibres on the surface of the cloth, creating a smoother surface.
TENTERING: This is a machine process which stretches and straightens the warp and weft or fill yarns after the cleaning and scouring. The cloth is then subjected to a high heat to give stability and shape to the cloth.
MERCERIZATION: This is a process involving the use of caustic soda or sodium hydroxide which gives strength to the cloth, adds lustre and lessens wrinkling.
CALENDERING: This is a mechanical process whereby the cloth is pressed under very hot steel rollers and sheared again for a smoother surface.
SIZINGS: This is a chemical process used to strengthen the cloth. Starch, gums, glues, caseins, gelatins and water-soluble resins are used such as polyvinyl alcohol and polycrylates.
SOFTENERS: These are chemical processes involving the use of various chemical compounds. These resins are most likely to remain in the cloth for the lifetime of that cloth. Several categories are:
Anionic Softeners: Used on cottons in the form of sulphated oils and fatty acid esters. These softeners tend to develop odours as the fats and oils can become rancid. Antioxidents are used to counteract this problem.
Cationic Softeners: used in cottons and cotton polyester broadcloth. They are chemical compounds having anti-static properties.
Nonionic Softeners: Are chemicals which are used as lubricants and which impart antistatic properties and are generally water soluble.
Emulsion Softeners: Are chemical compounds and are not water soluble. These are used in Durable or PermaPress cloth. They are polyethylene, silicones, etc.

Here are one reference book I used in my research:
As defined by the Macropaedia Brittanica, Industrial Chemicals:
Acetamide: Is a solvent, peroxide, stabilizer, wetting agent, penetrating agent. Health hazard: carcinogenic.
Acetic Acid: A methane or carboxylic acid used in the manufacture of acetic anhydride, dyes, pharmaceuticals, textiles, printing. Health hazard: moderately toxic to inhalation, strong irritant to skin.
Acetic Anhydride: Used in dyes, perfumes, explosives, aspirins. Heath hazard: strong irritant, burning.
Acetephonone: Used in perfumes, solvents, pharmaceuticals, resins as a polymerization agent.
Acetyl Bromide: used in dyestuffs. Health hazard: mucous membrane irritant, toxic, strong eye irritant.
Acrysol: Paint thickener, fabric coating, adhesive, warp sizing for fibres, also a starch sizing.
Amino Resins: Used in textile finishings, PermaPress fabrics and as binders for cloth. It is a resin made by the reaction of an amino with an aldehyde, mainly, formaldehyde. Other forms include: dimethylol urea, metholo urea, melamine resins, urea formaldehyde resins.
Pentacholorphenal: Used as a fungicide, bacteriocide, algicide, herbacide and in dyes. Health hazards: skin absorption, toxic by inhalation.
Malaic Anhydride: Dirivative of benzene. Use: polyester resins, pesticides, PermaPress resins in textiles. Heath hazards: irritant to mucous membrane tissues.
Toluene: used widely as a solvent and as a starter chemical for the synthesis of other chemical compounds. A component of crude oil and a bi-product of styrene. Uses: the refinement of gasoline, resins, paints, adheisives, printing materials, glues, solvents, perfumes, dyes, pharmaceuticals, detergents, aviation gasoline. Heath hazard: neurotoxic damage.

JOSEPH, Marjory L. INTRODUCTORY TEXTILE SCIENCE, fifth edition. Rinehart & Winston, 1986.

HOLLEN, N, SADLER, J., TEXTILES, sixth ed. 1988, Macmillan Pub., Canada LANGFORD, A,
KADOLPH,S.PRICE,A., COHEN, A. FABRIC SCIENCE, sixth ed. 1994. Fairchild Pub. USA
LANGUAGE GUIDE TO TOXICOLOGY, 1984  Bacchus Press, Berkeley, CA. USA
SOLSTAD, M.A. CHEMICAL HAZARDS IN THE PERFORMING AND STUDIO ARTS, Aug/Sept. Issue, 1994, Chemical Health and Safety.
APODACA, J.K. A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF NATURALLY COLOURED AND ORGANICALLY GROWN NICHE COTTONS: Production, Marketing, Processing, retailing: the Natural Fibres Research

And Information Centre, U. of texas, Austin, Texas.


At May 13, 2013 at 2:33 AM , Blogger Laura in IA said...

Thanks Rosey. I will have to reread it often to absorb all the information you have provided.

At May 13, 2013 at 6:41 AM , Blogger RoseyP said...

You're welcome Laura. It is a lot to post and a lot to take in and it is a decade or so later information but it was a revelation to me who had been working since the 1960's with quilt fabric and who can remember the feel of one hundred percent cotton without most of the added resins which were developed and placed in one hundred percent cotton because quilters/people got used to the no-wrinkle of polycotton and liked it. Frankly, I liked the creasing of 100% cotton because it reminded me of the lovely old quilts that I had been given by my late MIL, Maude Small. Quilters know so little about the cloth they work with and often end up later on with allergies and sensitivities. What confirms the medical issues is that we all, in one way or another, suffer similar reactions in various ways.


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