A couple Fridays ago, I had a student tell me Ross had yoga mats for $9. Yes, you can find dirt cheap, sticky mats, but if you think the price tag is the only cost think again.
Cheap sticky mat = Polyvinyl Chloride, PVC
The manufacture of PVC is linked to many harmful effects on the environment and is associated with negative health implications for humans. In fact, just recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set new, tougher guidelines for emissions and work practice standards for PVC manufacturing plants. Unfortunately, these guidelines have no effect on PVC production overseas. Facilities outside of the United States still emit pollutants into the Earth we share.
You may be more familiar with PVC as irrigation tubes/pipe. In its ‘natural’ form PVC is rigid and hard…think about practicing on a sheet of plywood and carrying that back and forth to the studio! To soften the PVC and make it more pliable, chemicals known as phthalates are added…a lot of phthalates. These chemicals and PVC do not bind. Rather the phthalates are emitted or released over time. Every time you use your mat you are breathing in and absorbing phthalates through your skin. Phthalates have been linked to causing cancer and fertility issues in both males and females. Phthalates are also thought to contribute towards asthma and autism.
Another chemical used in the manufacture of cheap (ie PVC) yoga mats is chlorine. As a by-product of this process dioxin is formed. Dioxin has been shown to cause cancer and is linked to birth defects as well as fertility and pregnancy complications. The EPA lists the safe level for dioxin exposure at essentially zero (0.0007grams/kilogram of body weight/day). Levels of dioxin increase in our bodies due to the fact they’re fat-soluble as opposed to water-soluble. Some studies have shown our exposure at more than 1000x the ‘safe’ level.
Mercury, a heavy metal, is used to produce chlorine. Large quantities of mercury are released into the environment—contaminating air, water, and land. Any form of mercury is toxic and can “permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys.” There are extra protections manufacturing plants can incorporate to reduce emissions. There are even other, more eco-friendly processes for producing chlorine, but extra protections and eco-friendly processes cost more. And in this global economy, the bottom-line has been king. The bottom-line will continue to be king unless—or until—people demand more.
So next time you’re thinking of buying a new mat—or maybe you need to re-evaluate the mat you have—be sure to include all the costs!
Why would you use a mat that’s hazardous to your health if you’re trying to improve your health?
You wouldn’t….Embrace Activism instead! Using Embrace Activism yoga mats will give you the reassurance you're not doing more harm than good with your practice. There are no phthalates in Embrace Activism yoga mats. Heavy metals were not used in their manufacture and they are latex-free. Plus you will feel gratified knowing your practice is doing more than just good...it's making a difference!
Health, Wellness & CURES!!