A couple of years ago, we decided it was time to get new living room furniture. After we had the furniture for a couple of weeks, I noticed I was having headaches more often. I did not relate them to the furniture purchase. As the headaches continued I started narrowing down what I was doing different. After a process of elimination I noticed I only got them when I was at home all day…still not relating it to the furniture. I would sometimes fall asleep on the new couch and wake up with a migraine. I thought it was just how my neck was positioned. Then it dawned on me that the only thing that was different was the new furniture. I went on line and looked up what kind of fabric covered the furniture….69% Polypropelene, 31% Polyester. YIKES!!
Polypropelene is a plastic. The chemicals contained in plastics can be quite harmful. Manufacturers often add different chemicals to plastics to give them the exact characteristics they’re looking for, like flexibility, strength, and reduced production cost. These components can include phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) — all of which alter hormone expression in nonhuman animals and humans.
Polyester is a very popular fabric choice – it is, in fact, the most popular of all the synthetics. Because it can often have a synthetic feel, it is often blended with natural fibers, to get the benefit of natural fibers which breathe and feel good next to the skin, coupled with polyester’s durability, water repellent and wrinkle resistance. Most sheets sold in the United States, for instance, are cotton/poly blends. (I also got new sheets and started waking in the mornings with headaches..the sheets were made of polyester.) It is also used in the manufacture of all kinds of clothing and sportswear – not to mention diapers, sanitary pads, mattresses, upholstery, curtains and carpet. If you look at labels, you might be surprised just how many products in your life are made from polyester fibers.
It contributes to our body burden in ways that we are just beginning to understand. And because polyester is highly flammable, it is often treated with a flame retardant, increasing the toxic load.
What does all of that mean in terms of our health? OEcotextiles writes:
Just by looking at one type of cancer, we can see how our lives are being changed by plastic use:
The connection between plastic and breast cancer was first discovered in 1987 at Tufts Medical School in Boston by research scientists Dr. Ana Soto and Dr. Carlos Sonnenschein. In the midst of their experiments on cancer cell growth, endocrine-disrupting chemicals leached from plastic test tubes into the researcher’s laboratory experiment, causing a rampant proliferation of breast cancer cells. Their findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives (1991).
Spanish researchers, Fatima and Nicolas Olea, tested metal food cans that were lined with plastic. The cans were also found to be leaching hormone disrupting chemicals in 50% of the cans tested. The levels of contamination were twenty-seven times more than the amount a Stanford team reported was enough to make breast cancer cells proliferate. Reportedly, 85% of the food cans in the United States are lined with plastic. The Oleas reported their findings in Environmental Health Perspectives (1995).
Commentary published in Environmental Health Perspectives in April 2010 suggested that PET might yield endocrine disruptors under conditions of common use and recommended research on this topic. 
These studies support claims that plastics are simply not good for us – prior to 1940, breast cancer was relatively rare; today it affects 1 in 11 women. Plastics alone are not responsible for this increase, but to think that they don’t contribute to it is willful denial.
So if you think that you’ve lived this long being exposed to these chemicals and haven’t had a problem, remember that the human body can only withstand so much toxic load – and that the endocrine disrupting chemicals which don’t seem to bother you may be affecting generations to come.
Both of theses chemicals are known as endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), and each affects different elements of hormone disruption (e.g. inducing estrogen-like activity, thyroid hormone homeostasis disruption, anti-androgens, and so on). Also, some chemicals are made of monomers, which have known mutation-inducing and cancer-causing qualities. And yet other compounds contain toxic metals.
These chemicals can enter the human body in any number of ways and at dramatically different levels. Many of them seep into the environment during the production process or as waste. They enter our waterways and other areas where they eventually make contact with humans.
Many health conditions can occur due to toxic exposure and overload including headaches, chronic fatigue, autoimmune conditions, inflammatory conditions, chronic lung conditions and joint aches to name just a few.(read more on chronic fatigue and toxins)
Look carefully at the things in your house that could be increasing your body burden. Limit the chemicals in your home! If you have small children, it is even more dangerous because they have immature immune systems. You can read more at Toxic Mistakes Expectant Mothers Make.
Look at what the fabrics you buy and choose not to purchase the cheaper sheets, furniture, clothing etc… because it will lead to health problems in the future. It is ultimately less expensive to by cotton or some other natural fiber.