What’s the big deal about flame retardants in pajamas

Not many parents know it, but much of the children's sleepwear on the market, have been treated with flame retardants. Any pajama or nightgown which is relatively loose-fitting, no matter what material it has been made out of, has been treated in some way.

So in Canada, it all started when surveys were done and it was realized that there were way too many injuries and even a few deaths of children related their nightwear catching fire. So, in the late 80's, a law was passed so that any loose-fitting nightwear had to be flame retardant and flame retardancy was achieved with flame-retardant chemicals. And it's not only kids pajamas that have these. Many of our items deemed to be flammable or at risk of catching fire have been treated with these chemicals, like sofas, mattresses and baby foam products like nursing pillows.

Ok, so the risk of catching fire is less. That's a good thing, right? Wrong!

Studies have shown that there really isn't a difference in the burning times between a treated couch and an untreated couch. The problem is not that flame retardants don't work. They do, but not in the quantities found in items used by the regular consumer. For flame retardants to work, they have to be used in large quantities. So basically, your sofa would have to be soaked from top to bottom in flame retardants to actually have any benefits of flame retardancy. 

So why don't furniture manufacturers put more chemicals?

Because it's expensive for them. What they do is treat the sofa with as little chemical as they can get away with legally. So basically, you are being exposed to chemicals which in fact, are of no use!

And this applies to any household item. In fact, they're everywhere, like the TV of computer, kettle, baby changing pad, carpet backing and insulation. And it's not just limited to household things. They've been found in vegetables and animal products too. 

But if they have been legally passed, they must be safe! Not true

Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (BFRs and CFRs) have been associated with numerous serious health effects such as harmful effects to the reproductive system, hypothyroidism,cancer, lower IQ and other effects of neurotoxicity. And the most exposed are children who have more contact with the chemical dust such as through more time spent on the floor, picking things off the ground and relatively high food intake.  Also, they've been found in human breast milk which is another reason children have more exposure.

But it's not just found in humans. BFRs and CFRs have been detected in as far away places as the arctic, in polar bears and Greenlandic peregrine falcons. 

So what about my children's nightwear? Will I have to dress my child in cargo pants for bed? Nope.

Currently, the only kids nightwear that is NOT treated with flame retardants are the ones that are tight-fitting. Basically, the long john types. When the garment is tight-fitting, it burns much more slowly than a loose fitting one of the same material. This is because fire needs oxygen to burn, and if there is no oxygen between the fabric and the child's skin, then it will be way slower or may even die out.

In my case, my daughters, who are far more girly than I ever was, kept asking for pretty nightgowns since they were 4 years old.
Back then, I didn't know any of this and thought I'd pop into Old Navy or Gap to get some.

After months of looking for cotton nightgowns and not finding any and after researching as to why, I knew that there was no way I was buying nightgowns or any loose fitting pj's for them. I explained to them that we were going with long johns because everything else was full of dangerous chemicals. 

I started to think about what the alternatives could be and after 2 years of research, reading up on regulations and policies and looking into other fabrics, I started my little store with the hope of being able to provide other parents an alternative to dangerous chemical-soaked nightwear.

What do you currently dress your kids in? I would love to hear from you at mayoni@jammiespree.com.


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