Recently, I was tested for heavy metal poisoning and the tests showed abnormally high levels of 4 different metals, and not-so-good levels of another three. One of the metals that was abnormally high was Antimony. Now I remember this metal, barely, from college chemistry courses, but how on earth did it end up in me, and in an elevated amount?
It seems Antimony is used in fireproofing textiles and plastics. It can be found in battery electrodes, ceramics, pigments, and gun powder. It can also be found in soft plastic bottles used for water and the water can become contaminated depending on storage conditions.
Blankets, mattress covers, and even clothing have been treated with this chemical. And much like the spraying of insecticides and fungicides (biocides) on clothing, manufacturers do this to extend the life of their products and theoretically increase public safety. The big problem is that the toxic effects of all of these chemicals are being discovered later. This stuff can be absorbed right through the skin, our largest organ.
No, not all things in life can be improved through chemistry. In fact, some of this chemistry may prolong the life of our clothing and fabrics, but it may also be killing us and our babies. It turns out, our clothing may remain long after our bodies return to dust.
You see, some New Zealand researchers proposed a hypothesis, gathered evidence, and then other experts set out to disprove their hypothesis and research.
Boiling this all down, the theory is like this:
Mattresses and mattress covers contain the fire retardant chemicals Antimony, Phosphorus, and Arsenic;
These chemicals can be broken down by molds to form the toxic gases of Stibine, Phosphine and Arsine;
In particular, Antimony can be broken down by the mold Scopulariopsis brevicaulis to give off the gas Stibine;
This mold is present in mattresses and mattress covers, especially once they become damp with a baby’s bodily fluids;
Stibine is a very powerful neuro-toxic gas that is heavier than air and in the breathing zone of infants;
A small amount of Stibine, when inhaled, can produce respiratory paralysis;
Infants dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (“SIDS”) have been confirmed to have elevated levels of Antimony in their bodies;
Although the “UK Expert Group on Cot Death Theories” could not substantiate and is said to have discredited this theory, in New Zealand, where parents followed a protocol of sealing up these mattresses and covers, no further crib deaths have occurred.
There are theories questioning the motivations and financing of the UK Expert Group.
Reading all of this information, I can’t say one way or the other if these types of fire retardants cause SIDS. I can, however, say with reasonable certainly, that I am only one of many who are now contaminated with this chemical that does not belong in our bodies. And because of multiple chemical exposures, my and other people’s bodies’ natural detoxification processes have become overwhelmed producing all sorts of disabling effects.
Another thing I can say is that I’ve never met a corporate entity that hasn’t put profits over people. One just needs to look at the tobacco industry to guess how this will play out.
For years there will be denial that the product is unsafe. Research will be stymied because of big money and influence brought to bear on regulating agencies. Deaths will continue. Maybe someday a plaintiff will prevail in a lawsuit. In the meantime, fearing litigation, some producers may change their lethal chemical mix to another lethal chemical mix in order to keep moving the ball making it harder to make the connection between chemical exposures and illness.
Delay in correcting the problem equals more money for the companies and their shareholders, while increasingly turning the planet into a toxic waste dump.
If you’re interested in reading more, I have included some links.
It seems Antimony was also used by the Egyptians in the form of Stibnite as a black eye makeup.
Postscript: How these chemical exposures will ultimately affect us is a big question, but it can’t be good when toxins keep turning up in our bodies. The CDC’s most recent report indicates that some 212 chemicals tested for, which are not supposed to be in our bodies, were in most people’s blood or urine.
Images: These images were found in the Internet in the public domain and no other attribution could be found. The feature image was linked to a webpage called Live Science.