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How to evaluate level of health threat of toxins/carcinogens in fabrics such as pvc vinyl and in sprays made to protect fabrics?  Took me long time to stop worrying so much about my non-stick fry pan that is PFOA free, but not PFOS free.

Question asked by Jennifer Charney on Jun 14, 2019

How do I assess the level of threat to human health/environment of a fabric such as pvc vinyl poses in terms of wanting to make a sewing project like a tote bag or make-up bag for an adult or teens, not for anyone under age 12.  These vinyls leak chemicals into the air over time?  But touching them doesn't make chemicals go into the skin?  Including oilcloth vinyl, any pvc?  I already made a big oilcloth tote bag a few years ago.  Don't use it, what would I do with it at this point though?  Give it away so someone else uses the toxic bag?  Aren't there so many chemicals in every other fabric like quilting fabric anyway that it makes no sense for me to only avoid pvc but then use neoprene, quilting, canvas, etc that all have dyes and maybe are sprayed with other fabric protective chemicals, etc? My other question is then spraying the easy to ruin fabrics like cotton quilting with Scotchgard vs this greener spray by Vectra, can google it, sold everywhere. Can I feel better about using Vectra?  I sew tote bags for family and want to feel ok giving it to them sprayed.  And should I consider pvc worse than the other fabrics and not make them anything with it?  I'm not ready to sew only hemp and naturally dyed fabrics that bore me aesthetically.  I'm totally not into the natural look, but I'm torn with my otherwise environmental habits, typical like Whole Foods Shopper that buys all those expensive natural cleaning products and so forth.  But sewing I know I'm guilty of because fabrics are very bad for the environment and do I draw the line when it comes to pvc or am I just being silly when our food has pthalates in it, fish have mercury, rice has arsenic, chocolate had lead for a while, even organic veggies have pesticides on them and so forth. I'm just wondering if the pvc is really no worse than anything else.  What about kids playing on summer inflatable vinyl pool inner tubes?  Or kids wearing vinyl aprons or raincoats?  That is much worse because they are still developing, but for me to make a tote bag or cosmetic pouch for people over 12 years old is not really much worse than a quilting fabric from China sprayed with Vectra?  I'm hopping chemistry people are the right ones to ask to get a perspective. I mean I'm still ordering take-out food that sits in those plastic containers leaching I don't know what into the food, especially the hot food.  So I feel like worrying about just this maybe isn't logical when I'm not avoiding everything else.


Was hoping I could find logical scientific people that understand these chemicals and their impacts, but then maybe they know the chemicals, but not so much the risk and won't be able to help?  Maybe there are environmental chemists that do have a better idea of how does someone evaluate info on the internet and know what to avoid.  I mean I don't live in California, but I am concerned when I see that a product has the Prop 65 warning and pvc does, but I don't think quilting fabric does so is that how I should base my decision?  There's prop 65 warnings on leather shoes even, one brand on Zappos, and I still have to wonder how much of a threat would a pair of those shoes be for me?  Since other brands don't have the warning I wonder why that one company can't change it's protocol and leave the offending chemical out.  Is prop 65 helping people or just worrying us about everything when so much of the pollution we take in is beyond our control, the air, water, foods, etc?