Recently we have seen an increase in the use of viscose in various kinds of fabrics, such as clothing, furniture, and rugs. We want to get the word out of the extreme health concerns associated with this product, as well as the danger to the environment.
Viscose, also known as “Bamboo Silk”, is really nothing other than an old product known as “Rayon”, which has been around for over 100 years. Due to health concerns, Rayon is no longer produced in the USA or Europe. It is now produced in China, India, and Indonesia.
Employees are not protected with proper health standards. These countries have poor health and safety standards that do not protect their employees, as well as less stringent standards to protect the environment.
Carbon disulfide exposure leads to acute insanity in those it poisons. Reports show higher levels of coronary heart disease, birth defects, skin conditions, and cancer, not just in textile workers but also in those who live near viscose factories.
After the industry’s mid-century high point, viscose manufacturing found itself at the forefront of those hazardous industrial processes exported to the developing world, starting in the 1960s and continuing through the decades. Viscose is still widely used today. It is currently being branded as a renewable, eco-friendly product and cleverly sidesteps the inconvenient reality that carbon disulfide, whether mixed with softwood pulp or bamboo or straw, is anything but green and extremely dangerous to those who manufacture it.
Viscose is made by using cellulose wood pulp that is treated with caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) at a high pH. Carbon disulfide is added to that solution. The mix is churned, allowed to “ripen” and then mixed with more caustics to form a syrupy semi-liquid that is what they call “viscose”. The Rayon syrup is forced through tiny spinning nozzles submerged in a bath of sulfuric acid, like sprinklers irrigating a garden. It is in this environment that the extruded filaments of viscose rayon fibers coagulate and grow. This is a highly polluting process and releases many toxic chemicals into the air and waterways surrounding production plants.
Concerns regarding the devastating impact of wood pulp production on forests, people and vulnerable animal populations have also been raised. The production of viscose contributes to the rapid depletion of the world’s forests, which are being cleared to make way for pulpwood plantations. It is estimated that around 30% of rayon/viscose used in fashion is made from pulp sourced from endangered and ancient forests. This leads to habitat destruction, creating a significant threat to endangered species, and often human rights abuse and land grabbing from Indigenous communities.
As a company, we are committed to sustainable cleaning practices as well as the health and safety of our employees. We feel the need to spread the word about this product. Although there are no documented health concerns with ownership or use of these products, the creation of the fibers affects those in the manufacturing plants and surrounding areas. Alameda does not purchase anything with viscose or its blends for our use.
Our hope is that with proper education, the use of viscose will cease.