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Polyester Toxicity - An Overview

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Polyester is a type of synthetic material embedded with various toxic chemicals. Read further to know more about polyester and the effects of its toxicity.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At February 2, 2023
Reviewed AtFebruary 2, 2023

Introduction:

Polyester is a synthetic fiber manufactured in the textile industry. It is a type of plastic derived from petroleum. It is a non-renewable resource and has a negative impact on the environment during production. It is the most widely used fiber. It is used in home furnishing, industrial fabrics, clothing, and electrical insulation. It is a synthetic material with toxic chemicals embedded in it. Manufacturers usually try to promote the benefits of polyester. But there are various risks associated with polyester. It should be avoided as much as possible, even if it is in the form of a bed sheet or clothes.

What Is Polyester?

Polyester is any textile or fabric made using polyester fibers or yarns. It is a synthetic man-made polymer. It is made by mixing terephthalic or ethylene glycol acid. It was first invented by British chemists John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson. It is also called polyethylene terephthalate, invented in the 1940s to create fashionable fabric cheaply. Polyester textiles resulted in smooth, flowy, and shiny fabric. It is the third most widely used fabric. It is characterized by excellent chemical resistance, electrical insulating properties, and mechanical strength.

What Are the Characteristics of Polyester?

  • Polyester is resistant and durable to many chemicals.

  • It is one of the popular fabrics in the fashion industry.

  • The fibers can easily be dyed.

  • It is a quick-drying fabric and a popular choice for outdoor clothing.

What Are the Uses of Polyester?

The uses of polyester are as follows:

  • Fibers: Polyester is high strength and used in car tire reinforcing and clothing.

  • Electrical: Polyester can be used for electrical cable insulation and insulation tape.

  • Automotive Component: Structural automotive parts, fog lamps, and alternator housings are examples of polyester used in automotive components.

  • Medical: Polyester is sometimes used in packaging medications.

What Are Various Categories of Polyester?

Polyester is further categorized depending on its chemical content and is described as follows:

  • PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): It is commonly used in polyester grade and is known by trade names like Rynite, Impet, and Mylar.

  • PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate): It has improved flexibility and a lower melting point than PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate).

  • PEN (Polytrimethylene Naphthalate): It has low oxygen permeability and is used in packing applications.

  • PTT (Polytrimethylene Terephthalate): This is commonly used in the textile industry due to its stain resistance and durability.

What Are the Disadvantages of Polyester?

The disadvantages of polyester are as follows:

  • Polyester is synthetic clothing that is not breathable or hypoallergenic. It creates sweat in extremely hot climates.

  • The moisture absorption of polyester is very low.

  • People with sensitive skin may create allergies by wearing synthetic clothes for longer periods.

  • It is highly flammable, so care must be taken while using 100% polyester near flame.

Is Polyester Considered Toxic?

Polyester is not toxic in its usual form. Combustion products and processing fume products can be harmful and toxic as well. Polyester is a thermoplastic processed by melting in the form of pellets and extruding into fibers or injecting into molds using standard melt processing techniques.

What Is Polyester Toxicity?

Toxicity is the degree to which the substance may damage an organism. Polyester is not considered safe for everyone. Drying polyester fabrics in a dryer can be potentially hazardous. The heat application enables the outgassing of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde. The harmful chemical can affect the person at night when the body comes into contact with bedsheets. Sleeping on synthetic bedding can release harmful chemicals, such as perfluorochemicals, into the air, which the skin absorbs. Animal evidence suggests a causal link between exposure to chemicals and damage to kidneys, the reproductive system, and the liver. Some people suffer from allergic reactions to polyester, including skin redness, itchiness, and contact dermatitis. People with severe reactions can experience blisters or hives on their bodies. They may experience sensations of tightness in the chest alongside pain or breathing issues.

What Are the Symptoms of Polyester Toxicity?

The symptoms of polyester toxicity are as follows:

  • Dryness.

  • Abnormally warm skin.

  • Redness.

  • Itchiness.

  • Presence of hives or blisters on the body.

What Can Be Used Instead of Polyester?

Cotton and silk can be used as an alternative to polyester. Cotton feels good on the skin and is the least expensive option. It is biodegradable or breathable as it comes from cotton plants. Cotton reduces the risk of exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

Hemp is another popular material that can be used instead of polyester. It is considered sustainable material as it requires less water to grow. It is renewable, biodegradable, and natural.

Silk is another alternative option but it is less affordable. It makes the skin feel more comfortable as compared to polyester.

Why Should Polyester Be Avoided?

Polyester should be avoided, especially in children, as it is made of cellulose and petroleum. They are not absorbable or breathable, which makes them cold in winter and hot in summer. It often holds an electric charge that produces static cling and requires chemical sprays. They require heavy chemical finishes. These toxic chemicals can lead to chemical sensitivities, allergies, and serious health problems. The best fabric to use is 100 % cotton. Polyesters are not biodegradable; they do not decompose for twenty years.

Conclusion:

Polyester belongs to the terminal branch in a chain of toxic and reactive precursors. Some research suggests that polyester carries carcinogens, and excessive wear of polyester can lead to problems such as lung and skin cancer. It can even cause respiratory infections. It should never be used in bed as it can lead to respiratory issues. It can lead to skin problems or can make the skin worse. It can also lead to itching, redness, dermatitis, eczema, and rashes. It is also dangerous for the environment. The electrostatic potentials generated by polyester may reduce the sperm count in men who wear polyester undergarments. It affects the immune system, especially in children.

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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

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