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What's so bad about fabric softener?

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Fabric softeners are designed to reduce static in synthetic fabrics. They serve no purpose with natural fabrics. Fabric softeners may contain quarternary ammonium compounds (quats) and imidazolidinyl, both of which are known formaldehyde releasers. For about 5% of people, quats are an extreme sensitizer. They may cause a variety of asthma-like symptoms, including respiratory arrest. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause joint pain, depression, headaches, chronic fatigue and a variety of other symptoms. In lab tests, formaldehyde has caused cancer and damaged DNA. Both quaternium and imidazolidinyl can cause contact dermatitis. Fabric softeners work by leaving a residue on the fabric that will never completely wash out. It can cause allergic reactions through skin contact and inhalation. Fabric softeners may also contain carcinogenic coal-tar dyes, ammonia and very strong scents. When fabric softeners are exposed to hot water, heat from dryers or ironing, vapors may be emitted which can ... more
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