Sep 28, 2021

Hidden Chemicals in our Clothes

Posted on Sep 28, 2021 by FelipeTadd

Hidden Chemicals in our Clothes

Would you reconsider the little black dress if it puts your body at risk for cancer? Unlike the nutritional information on the back of our favorite dishes, there is no clear ingredient list for clothing.

Toxic plastics are visible in the many stages of a garment: from the factory floor where workers are exposed and breathe their fumes, to runoff from dyes and corrosive equipment products that flow into our water sources and agricultural systems, even toxic substances that are washed away. They enter our largest organ, our skin, and are deposited into our bloodstream each time we use them.

Various Chemicals Present in our Clothing

1. Conventional cotton (not organic).

As a chemical-intensive crop, conventional cotton makes up 25% of the insecticides used worldwide. The residues of these toxins are transferred from the soil to the seed capsule and thus penetrate the fibers of our conventional cotton clothing. According to many organic cotton clothing wholesale manufacturers, unlike organic cotton, several toxic synthetic chemicals are also required when processing conventional cotton. Some of these chemicals include silicone waxes, petroleum cleaners, plasticizers, heavy metals, flame retardants, ammonia, and formaldehyde. Body heat and sweating accelerate the absorption of these residues into the skin.

Instead, choose organic:

Organic fabrics are not only better for your body when organic cotton also preserves the country's biodiversity. Growing and harvesting organic cotton also uses 71% less water and 62% less energy than traditional cotton, making it the greenest option.

2. Synthetic and high-performance fabrics.

Did you know that your skin helps you stay healthy by excreting up to 1 pound of toxins every day? Petrochemical fibers such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, acetate, or triacetate limit the release of toxins. Don't be fooled by popular marketing terms like "sweat-wicking" or "high-performance fabrics." These unusual requirements correspond to a high proportion of synthetic fibers that suffocate your skin. Wearing synthetic fabrics can cause anything from headaches and nausea to rashes and breathing problems.

Instead, choose natural materials:

Unlike synthetics, natural materials like organic cotton, linen, silk, wool, and hemp allow the body to breathe properly, detoxify, and regulate body temperature. Natural fibers are also inherently biodegradable and can be composted, while synthetic fibers do not break down and can live in landfills for hundreds of years.

3. New clothes and wrinkle-free fabrics.

New clothing is the consumer's choice because of its shiny, ironed, and unworn appeal. But what is this "new" smell that we have come to appreciate? Well, it's just a mix of toxic finishing treatments like urea and formaldehyde resins. Formaldehyde is used primarily in construction and for the preservation of dead bodies and has been linked to dermatitis and lung cancer. Why do we use this known human carcinogen on our clothes?

Instead, choose second-hand or Tencel clothing:

With used clothing, you can be sure that the garment has been washed several times and that the chemical residue is significantly less than with new clothing. If secondhand clothing isn't your thing, be sure to wash your new clothes with a skin-friendly detergent before wearing them to reduce exposure to formaldehyde and other harmful finishing agents. If you hate ironing, try Tencel, a type of viscose that doesn't wrinkle and has a fluid drape. Tencel is made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus in a closed loop and requires fewer chemicals than other semi-synthetic fibers like Modal.

4. Weather-resistant and/or flame retardant fabrics.

For outdoor enthusiasts, weather-resistant clothing is preferred, but at an unexpected price. The culprit is called PFC (perfluorocarbon) and it can be found in non-stick household items, as well as clothing and footwear that are supposedly dirt-repellent and waterproof. Exposure to PFC has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, obesity, and a decreased response to vaccines. From an ecological point of view, PFC production can contaminate surface water, drinking water, groundwater, air, and dust. In fact, in 2015, PFC runoff from a DuPont manufacturing plant in central Ohio Valley was blamed for major birth defects and other health problems in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Instead, choose PFC-free, flame retardant, and/or organic wool:

As part of its Detox campaign, Greenpeace has been actively encouraging popular outdoor clothing brands to set schedules for the removal of PFCs, a free alternative that can protect the body from freezing temperatures, since 2012. As An alternative to our ancestors, organic wool was the weather-resistant fiber of choice because it is naturally water and flame retardant, and hypoallergenic.

5. Exercise material and antibacterial fabrics.

Much of this is because marketers convince us that we are never clean enough when in reality a little dirt keeps our immunity intact. The fitness industry in industry is known for using synthetic chemical blends and fungicides to make their products "antibacterial." These chemicals include triclosan, a coating related to the liver, and inhalation toxicity that has been shown to cause liver cancer in mice; and silver nanoparticles, which give the garment "anti-odor" properties and have been linked to hormonal imbalances and DNA damage. Phthalates are commonly used in workout clothing that has been designed with printing or dyeing. This emollient has been linked to cancer, obesity in adults, and decreased testosterone in both men and women.

Instead, choose organic cotton, hemp, or Tencel:

Hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly fibers. It is resistant to drought and does not require pesticides or fertilizers. As a material, hemp is very light and breathable like flax. Tencel is a semi-synthetic fabric made from traceable eucalyptus pulp. Since it is a high-strength cellulose fiber, the result is a strong fabric that is also highly absorbent.

6. Black clothes, denim, and azo dyes.

Have you ever seen the warning sign “Attention! Is this garment losing color and color in a future pair of jeans? In conventional dyeing processes, 35% of the color is washed off after dyeing, while only 65% ​​remains on the fabric. Azo dyes, the industry's first choice, release chemicals known as aromatic amines that have been linked to cancer. Dark colors like brown and black contain higher concentrations of p-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical that is sensitive to skin allergies and can cause contact dermatitis.

Instead, choose used clothing, natural colors, or non-azo:

When buying clothes in light or bright tones, ask the brand if they use dyes that do not contain azo. Natural dyes are also a great alternative because they come from plants and other dyes extracted from the earth. Did you know that natural indigo is not only the greenest option, but it also provides jobs for artisans and has Ayurvedic health benefits such as immune-boosting, skin detoxification, and antibacterial properties?

7. Leather.

Many avoid leather because of its negative effects on animals. What doesn't get a lot of air is the many toxic chemicals needed to tan leather. Tanning is the process of turning animal skins into leather and 90% of the leather goods you can find in stores today have been chrome tanned. Although vegetable tanning is a natural option, chrome tanning speeds up the process, creates a finer and smoother leather than vegetable-tanned, and can be dyed in a variety of colors. Despite the above benefits, chromium contributes to some serious health effects.

Instead, choose vegetable-tanned or innovative leather alternatives:

Instead of a harsh chemical cocktail, vegetable-tanned leather uses tannins obtained from vegetables, tree bark, and other natural plants. Innovative and clean leather alternatives such as Piñatex, made from pineapple, and Muskin, a biodegradable leather made from mushroom caps, are entering the market.

Hope this article is helpful to you. If you have any questions or other advice on working with clothing manufacturers, feel free to contact us - Felipe Tadd