Scarred for Life and the dangers of wearing synthetics

The Dangers of Wearing Synthetic Clothing

Many, many, many years ago I worked as a registered nurse in a South London hospital. I had brought with me from my home country New Zealand, my fine nylon or maybe it was an acetate graduation nurses uniform. One thing was clear it was made from a definite synthetic material.

One very cold evening just before Christmas I went to warm my derriere in front of an old heater. It was a very hot heater as well, required to warm up a large Nightingale ward (where you can see all the patients at once). As I walked away from this heater I had the awful realisation that the back of my uniform has just disappeared. It really had melted and shrivelled away. I was very fortunate not to suffer severe burns, though did suffer some embarrassment when I realised there were no extra gowns to wear.

I had to suffer the indignity of having to wear an elderly gentleman’s woolly dressing gown to cover up my now non existant back panel of my synthetic uniform, until my shift was over. Since that time I have been extremely careful not to wear synthetic clothing. I realise that most synthetic fabrics burn or melt like this and can be quite dangerous to burning your skin.

It is interesting that if you want to test the difference between pure silk and polyester that you put a flame to it. (Be careful how you do this as I have been burnt testing polyester fabric). Some unscrupulous people will often try to tell you their fabric is pure silk and get very nervous when you produce a match or lighter and say you will test it yourself.

They then will confess that their silk is not ‘worm silk’. Well what other kind is there? I ask, and they confess that most people cannot tell the difference. I was even told in a well known store in Sydney when I asked if she had any silk sleepwear that yes they did and pointed me to some ‘chinese silk’ which turned out to be synthetic polyester. This I stated is an insult to the Chinese who discovered the genuine article.

Just to let you know if you burn pure silk (both the warp and weft threads) it should burn like your hair. This means it may smell a bit like singed hair as they are both proteins, but will not melt like polyester. It burns like fine ash to nothing. This is also why wearing silk is much better for you if you have the misfortune to be caught in a fire, as you are less like to suffer burns from melting fabric.

Please feel free to add any of your stories like this to my blog.

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