Concerns about Optical Brighteners
Article by John Mathias of Home Scents – http://www.homescents.co.uk
These are dyes that absorb light in the ultraviolet and violet parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, releasing the light to the blue area --- that's grabbed your attention, I bet! Don't nod off just yet, it gets more interesting. Basically, OBs make fabrics, paper, etc look brilliant white, while having little effect on cleanliness. Added to laundry detergents, they make clothes APPEAR cleaner. They have taken the place of the old fashioned " bluing" which did much the same job. Some of these brighteners can cause allergic reactions on contact with the skin. OBs are toxic to fish and cause bacterial mutations; not doing the planet much good, especially as they are slow to degrade.
Also of much concern just now is how much residue they leave in Natural nappies. More and more mothers are reporting leaking and wicking in the nappies when washed in mainstream detergents. The chemicals in these products leave residues that stay on the fabrics, increasing the chances of being absorbed through the skin. Promises of "brighter" "cleaner" "whiter" etc on packets may well point to that packet being full of OBs. Look on the back label of any of the Supermarket Suspects and you will find a distinct lack of ingredient info. Look on the back of any Home Scents product and you will find every ingredient listed….all Good things.
Optical Brighteners can be found in some cosmetics. When used to wash and condition grey or blonde hair, they help increase the sparkle. They are also used in face powders and eye make-up.
As yet, the actual harm they do is not fully understood. Finally, this report gives a different slant to the problem.
9/4/2007 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -
"Laundry additives known as "optical brighteners" should not be used for washing the Airman Battle Uniform.
Laundry instructions for ABUs specify not using any laundry detergents that contain optical brighteners.
Optical Brighteners make the ABU more detectable by night vision equipment and make the ABU more visible in a low-light environment of any kind, by reflecting more of any available light.
Optical brighteners are chemicals that absorb the ultraviolet and violet region of colors in a fabric. They trick the eye into seeing a brighter shade and reflect more light.
Near Infrared (NIR) capability of the ABU is degraded when washed with detergents containing optical brighteners. Because most commercial detergents contain optical brighteners, there is generally no indication on the packaging.
The Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) is the service-distinctive camouflage battledress uniform for the United States Air Force
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