Dangerous chemicals

Most consumers are unaware of the dangerous chemicals contained in their clothing and some of their home textiles. Would you have gone for that beautiful dress or that new piece of furniture if you knew that they could put your health at risk? Chemicals are used for the production of almost every textile: clothing, beddings, curtains, towels, etc. In fact, the textile industry makes use of over 8000 chemicals, but only a few people know that those chemicals may be harmful.

These dangerous chemicals are affecting not only our health but also have a negative effect on the environment. Although many of us are making conscious efforts to eat right and healthy, use natural hair care, skincare, and makeup products. But our clothes, as well as home textiles, could counter the results we are trying to achieve by using and consuming natural products. 

Most trendy wears are made out of fabrics produced using dangerous chemicals. Although they are usually quite cheap and affordable, is it worth it? We shouldn’t ignore that whatever we are exposed to, our skin easily absorbs it. So, what are the chemicals used to produce our clothing? And how can we protect ourselves from this harmful chemical? 

Nonylphenol ethoxylates and polyphenols(NFE) 

In 2013, Greenpeace carried out a study on two kids clothing factories in China, which together made up 40% of all the kid’s clothing manufactured in China and exported to other countries. The result of this study showed that more than half of all products contain NFE substances. 

This substance is largely found in the industrial detergent used for washing textiles. The accumulation of this chemical on the body can lead to the disruption of basic hormonal functions as well as reproduction functions.

Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFC) 

These are used in the manufacturing of water-repellent clothing such as raincoats. A study, according to the National Institute of Ecology and the Environment carried out on animals to show the effects of PFC compounds, demonstrated disruption of the normal activity of the endocrine system, reduced the basic functions of the immune system, and had a negative impact on liver and pancreas function.

Metals 

They are used for different purposes, including metal complex dyes, mordant, pigments, catalysts in synthetic-textured fabrics, antimicrobial agents, synergists of flame retardants, as odour-preventive agents as well as water repellents. This means that, in one way or another, metals are used in the manufacturing of almost all types of textiles. Although, when present in low concentration, they may not be considered harmful, a high concentration can cause severe health implications. 

Formaldehydes 

This chemical substance is used on clothes to make them wrinkle-resistant and protect them from fungi and bacteria especially during transportation. It can cause skin and respiratory irritation. Here’s an article talking about the use of this substance: Toxic dyes, lethal logos, cotton drenched in formaldehyde… How your clothes could poison you.

Azo dyes 

The use of those dyes has been banned by many countries. Despite this, the Azo dyes are still one of the most common dyes used for textiles. Azo dyes are highly carcinogenic.

Azo Dye

What are the health implications of these dangerous chemicals? 

Chemicals in clothes and home textiles may cause: 

  • Cancer 
  • Nausea 
  • Skin irritation 
  • Respiratory irritation 
  • neurotoxicity 
  • Liver, kidney, and lung disorders 

Preventive measures to take to avoid dangerous chemicals

It is important that you place your health above fashion or whatsoever. Buying a dress, home textile, or any other material that contains these harmful chemicals at relatively low prices may seem like a great idea, but at what expense? 

  • When buying clothes, ensure not to buy those with wrinkle-free or stain-resistant signs no matter how cheap or fine they may be. 
  • It would be preferable to wash the new clothes before using them.
  • Check out the manufacturing process of a brand and ask questions before making a purchase. The Relixiy weighted blanket UK, by using only OEKO-TEX certified materials and performing independent lab checks on every batch of products is at the frontline against the use of dangerous chemicals for textiles.

Additional sources:

BrightHub

Greenpeace – Dirty Laundry

Greenpeace