Monday, December 08, 2008

Cancer Causing Cutting Mats?

I went to Joanne's today, looking for bubble jet set. They didn't have any. And danged if I was going to buy those "Printed Treasures" pre treated sheets of muslin...at $18 a pack just to print labels!

I usually just use my laser jet printer because the black ink on that is permanent...but...low and behold, my old trusty 1995 HP Laserjet 4p has given up the ghost. It amazes me that at the time that technology was new, the printer cost me over $900.

I came home, after finding NO bubble jet set. And who wants to soak fabric to use it anyway?

I looked at the pre-treated sheets of fabric... the Printed Treasures envelope says if you HAVE to wash the item, to NOT USE DETERGENT?

I came home empty handed and logged into Amazon. I found a GREAT HP laserjet marked down from $224 to $99 with free shipping! I'm a happy girl.

But the point of this post, isn't about the laser jet...it's about the new mat I bought at Joanne's. I really LIKE the Fiskars mats because they are 2 sided. It's like getting 2 mats for the price of one, and they last twice as long. When one side gets all carved up, I simply flip it and use the reverse side. It has markings on BOTH sides.

They had Donna Dewberry mats 50% off! And I liked the lilac/blue colorway. But as I'm standing there in the checkout line I read the lable..get this! It says:

WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and/or reproductive harm.


ACCCCCKKKKKKK!!!

Just what ARE these chemicals in these mats and why are they in there in the first place? Are there any other brands of mats that carry the same warning?

Maybe if we were to INJEST the mat particles it would be bad, but...is rotary cutting in moderation upon said mat going to be causing us any issues? Or is the chance of slicing off a finger with the cutter itself more of a likelihood than any adverse affects from chemical infused cutting mats?

It's just weird. It boggles my mind. Is there anything else these could be made of to be safe to use? Or do we just chock this up to our modern world of pollutant-laced living? In my kitchen alone there are chemicals for dishwasher detergent, cleaning agents, spray cans of aerosol PAM for cooking, etc. The bathroom is much the same, the garage? Loaded with chemicals for insect repelling, antifreeze, lubricants, cans of left over paint...why should a lowly lilac and blue cutting mat push me over the edge?

Living Dangerously in a Chemically Infused Paradise in Wallburg, NC

30 comments:

Teri said...

I noticed that warning when I bought mine also. I have the exact mat as you, and I love it because I hardly ever use those colors of fabric so it is easy to see the edge. About the warning...I think they are just trying to defer the liability.

julia said...

Hi Bonnie,

uhhmmm...don't know what to think of the warning on the cutting mat & if I'd see this I probably wouldn't buy it...cancer is a bad word... but then again, sunlight can also cause cancer...very difficult to decide, especially because they don't specify the chemicals...

First I thought I misread - do you really use your laser jet for printing on fabric??? I've never heard that...always thought you only can print with ink jet printers...is it the same procedure??? {Sorry if I'm asking stupid question but I'm quite excited because I only have a laser jet...}

Cheers, Julia

DangAndBlast! said...

It's just a California thing -- notice it's not known to other states to cause any problems. Basically, anything that, if powdered, heated, and ingested in massive quantities could cause a problem for 5 out of 1000 people after 45 years of constant use, must be labeled that way in Cali. (My favorite: a rental car with one of those notices pasted quite unremovably to the driver's window -- I'd think they'd also have another notice saying that the notice above is likely to cause unsafe driving and possibly death!)

Brenda said...

Hi: I did a story once on a Disney toaster that carried that warning: I understand California requires that warning be placed on any product containing lead. I think if you chewed your mat, you'd be in trouble. But it might be worth a call to the manufacturer.

Robyn said...

I agree...this really is weird.
A few years ago...we went organic (as much as is humanly possible that is)...due to my son's reactions to chemicals in our detergents etc...He has asthma. Changing made a huge difference to his quality of living.
I know plastic is plastic, but surely there is some process by which they can reduce the toxicity to the end user.
Maybe it is just a disclaimer....it sure would be sad to think otherwise.

Shari said...

Yes, it's probably about liability. And it's only in the state of California, evidently. And you'd probably have to eat a lot of mats...
I don't actually use the lines on my mat for anything but a quick reckoning. I have a thick white one that's lasted me about 12 years so far.

Jessica said...

Well, since it says these chemcials are "known to the State of California to cause cancer" I think you should be ok living in North Carolina, don't ya think? Now, I'm in Washington State, just a few state lines away. I sure hope those cancer chemicals don't decide to start causing trouble up here, too!! :D

Quilt Pixie said...

Given the chemical sensitivities in my home I've become really careful at weeding through as many "extras" as possible... One thing I know about all my cutting mats is they are awfully smelly when I first buy them. I think its a fermeldhyde like chemical given my reaction (which would explain the caution label you read). The solution I've found is to let new mats "air out" in the garage or outside by removing their plastic wrap, a few days before moving into the studio -- makes a HUGE difference...

GailM. said...

Bonnie. Can we step back to the Laserjet for printing labels. I always thought you couldn't use a laser for printing fabric. You say you do... Gesh, I didn't know you can do that. I have an HP color Laserjet. Do you think I can print colored labels. That would be so awsome... even black and white labels will be great. Are there any special techniques... or is it the same as using an inkjet. iron on the muslin to freezer paper, and put through the manual feed?

Howdy said...

LOL - I've noticed that kind of Warning on a lot of things... apparently those folks in California have adverse effects from just about anything and everything.

Good Thing you don't live in CA!

Just don't eat off it or take a nap on it and you should be good.

Paula said...

I agree....it's not pollutant laced living, it's litigation loving lawyers they are protecting THEMSELVES from!!

Katney said...

And my friend just gave me an article she printed out about lotions and aromatherpay stuff. Yikes!

But, were these chemicals tested by ingesting megadoses into labrats? Or with normal use? I agree it's to forestall possible future litigation. And I lost my mother, my father, my sister, and my sister-in-law to cancer. Did environment have something to do with it? Who is to say? I'm not going to blame it on anything liek a cutting mat, though (except my SIL's cigarettes, but that's another story.)

Susan said...

I bought a large pink and yellow Fiskars mat last year, and found that it gave off what are referred to as "noxious fumes." It smelled so bad -- a skunky smell -- that I wrote the Fiskars company, but their customer service person blew me off, she seemed offended that I had criticized their product. It was winter when I got the mat, so couldn't leave it outside to air in the hope the smell would improve -- I was afraid it would freeze and crack (I'm in Madison, Wisconsin). I hadn't noticed a warning label, but I finally got rid of it because the smell was so awful. Now I wonder if I was inhaling toxic chemicals!

Pika said...

We have a law in California that covers many chemicals and things like lead. That company wasn't just protecting themselves against lawsuits, they were following the law. My guess is you don't want to ingest your cutting mat.

Mercy's Maid said...

I noticed that on my fiskars mat too. But luckily, I don't live in California, so it's totally safe for me to use it. :)

julieQ said...

Just don't get hungry and nibble a corner, and I bet you will be fine!!

Peachy said...

I agree completey with Susan. Fiskars' cutting mats are toxic smelling! I love to cut on them though...they are my faves. A few years ago I purchased the folding one (didn't last long since after folding it to take it to bees, it fell apart in less than a month) and when I brought it home it was quite strongly perfumed with that chemical smell. I did air that one out in the garage.
About a year ago I purchased the double sided Fiskars yellow/pink mat. It, too, had a distinct odor and upon the advice of a friend, soaked it in cold water to remove the smell. That work and did not affect the mat as a hot water bath might.

karenfae said...

Bonnie at this web site http://www.cjenkinscompany.com/product_p/sliirrmirfabric-w.htm you can get fabric sheets ready for the printer cheaper than other places. They package it as having minor imperfections but I have not had anything major wrong with them other than a tiny speck of gray on one out of the whole package.
Karen
http://karensquilting.com/blog/

Beth said...

I live in California, it's posted in a lot of places, and all gas stations. I think it might have something to do with things being oil based, but don't quote me on that.

Quiltin' LibraryLady said...

Hey, I got one of those Fiskars mats this summer, so I'm right there with you in that Chemically Infused Paradise. Better living through chemicals, ya know?

D2Quilter said...

Bonnie, Just so you know almost every restaurant in Calif. has a warning like that in the waiting area. My DH and I totally walked out of the first restaurant we stopped to eat at because of the sign. Then we noticed them in almost every one we stopped at after that!!! LOL! I'm mean we could prove that almost everything causes Cancer and I guess those Californians want to make sure we all know about it! Good luck with your mat. Sounds like you and Mary were on the same wavelength!

Lori in South Dakota said...

Just don't eat 100 mats this week. I think it is like the eating hot dogs--if you eat 100 of them a day you may get cancer. Along with a bad bout of indigestion!

Ruthie said...

Thanks so much for sharing the label information.

AllyJo said...

I know you like cats and quilting, so be sure to check out my post today. It will give you a giggle. Does your cat do this to you?

I have your book on my Christmas list. Thanks for sharing your life and inspiration with the world.

YankeeQuilter said...

I am a bit sensitive to chemicals too and find that I periodically need to wash my mats. Sounds crazy I know but a quick wipe down with some light dishwashing soap then with some white vinegar and I am fine. Even carrying my new mat around the store last week left me with a rash on my right arm! (and I am in Georgia not California...maybe it was a California mat?) Anyway, most likely there is something in the mat that I disturb as I use it...

In the big scheme of things...mat cancer isn't something I am worried about though!

MissaB26 said...

Take a look at this article at CNN - it explains the labeling.

http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/tag/elizabeth-landau-cnncom-health-writerproducer/

Tracy said...

I have had this exact mat for several months. I missed the warning when I took the sticker off but remember the smell. It went away and has been lovely to use. Hopefully it is just CA being overly cautious.

Diane said...

Perhaps it only causes cancer in rotary cutting RATS.

Carol said...

As a 4th generation Californian, I'll be the first to admit that the laws of my home state often create more confusion than anything else. I think that warning label on your cutting mat is probably due to our California Proposition 65, passed in the 80s, to protect drinking water, etc. It also passed due to public response to the news that a number of beautiful, imported pottery plates and cups, etc. were finished with glazes containing lead. Concern was that lead in the glazes could transfer to the food and drinks served from the dinnerware.
http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/p65faq.html

So many people often ignore product warning labels for insecticides and other dangerous items. Later they find themselves facing health concerns as a result. Just use common sense and don't eat or inhale pieces of your cutting mat, and I'm sure you can feel safe using it!

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

That's as bad as the residents of Dallas Co who don't want the city to spray to stop the west nile epedemic they are experiencing are you kidding me. Which is worse????????????????????