Though it is created from wood, rayon undergoes an intense chemical process to transform it into a fiber, that is toxic to humans and to the environment if not responsibly cared for. Author and University of California professor of medicine Paul Blanc compares the industrial hazard of rayon to asbestos, lead, and mercury.
When rayon is conventionally produced, about half of the chemicals are not recaptured. This leaks the main chemical used in this process, carbon disulfide, into the environment, leading to the death of animals, birds, or fish, and death or low growth rate in plants. This chemical also presents health concerns to frontline workers exposed to it.
The EPA describes acute exposure symptoms as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headache, mood changes, lethargy, blurred vision, delirium, and convulsions and chronic exposure symptoms as behavioral and neurophysiological changes, decreased sperm count and menstrual disturbances.