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DIRTY SECRETS OF YOUR CLOTHES THAT MAY CAUSE YOUR SKIN AND HEALTH PROBLEMS EVERY TIME YOU WEAR THEM AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF.

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DIRTY SECRETS OF YOUR CLOTHES THAT MAY CAUSE YOUR SKIN AND HEALTH PROBLEMS EVERY TIME YOU WEAR THEM AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
Image: Mel Poole | Unsplash

 

I’m always amazed how people care about what they put in their bodies and don’t care at all what they put on their bodies. I agree it would be easier if every piece of the garment comes with the list of “ingredients” attached to it like it’s in case of food. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. At least not yet.

However, using this as an excuse is very weak and can cost you health.

Did you know that 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used in fashion manufacturing, most of which contain known carcinogens and hormone disruptors? They leak slowly into our largest organ – our skin – and deposit into our bloodstream upon every wear.

Chemicals that cause cancer, skin conditions, and reproductive problems, damage the immune system, affect the nervous system and provoke respiratory problems.

 

Fortunately, there is good news. Like in the case of food, knowledge is power. By opting for healthier clothes and being aware of what we put on our bodies, we can reduce exposure to unhealthy chemical cocktails.

 

Here is a list of frequently used toxic chemicals and handy tips on how to make healthier choices when it comes to fashion:  

 

AZO DYES

What is it?

“Azo dyes represent the most widely used chemical class of dyes in textiles. They may be biotransformed into aromatic amines by human skin bacteria. These aromatic amines might then enter the body through the skin. Twenty-two aromatic amines are known carcinogens. Therefore, they are banned for the use in textiles for clothing in the European Union.”

Where and why is it used?

Azo dyes are used in dyeing textile fibres like cotton silk, wool, viscose and synthetic fibres. They are considered to be easy to use, relatively cheap and to provide clear, strong colours.

What impact can it have on your health?

They are linked with skin allergies, contact dermatitis, asthma, intestinal and bladder cancer, and they can alter genetic material (DNA).

What can you do to protect your health?

Run far away from the garment with the warning label “Attention! This garment will lose dye and colour”  attached to it. I’m serious. Instead, opt for clothes dyed with natural indigo.

You can also buy second-hand clothes if the fact that somebody else wore these clothes before you, doesn’t bother you. However, be extra careful because they can spread dermatitis, scabies, and fungal diseases. Always wash second-hand clothes with warm water and disinfectant and iron on both sides.

Personally, I prefer to invest in naturally dyed or azo-free clothing like FEEL GOOD COUTURE™, that will serve me for years.

 

 

BENZENE

What is it?

Benzene is found in crude oil and is a major part of gasoline.

Where and why is it used?

It’s used in the textile industry in dyestuffs like synthetic indigo, emulsion concentrations of pigment printing as well as in the production of nylon and other synthetic fibres. (Seriously, why people put on the bodies the synthetic fabrics that suffocate their skin? Why? Why?)

What impact can it have on your health?

It’s easily absorbed by the skin and it can cause aplastic anaemia, acute leukaemia, bone marrow cancer, and immune system dysfunction.

What can you do to protect your health?

Choose clothes made of natural fabrics that are dyed in a natural way.

 

 

CARBON DISULFIDE

What is it?

Carbon disulfide is a clear liquid that vaporizes at room temperature and is readily absorbed by inhalation. 

Where and why is it used?

It’s used in the production of viscose rayon fibres and cellophane films.

What impact can it have on your health?

It affects the nervous system, causes toxic degenerative brain disease and acts by damaging the sensory capacity of nerves, plus it increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. (Pretty serious, huh?) 

What can you do to protect your health?

Again, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid synthetic clothes and invest in healthy natural fabrics like organic or Pima cotton, silk, Tencel®, hemp, cashmere, merino wool.

 

 

CHROMIUM IV

What is it?

It’s a catalyst in the dyeing process of wool and cotton and in tanning the leather clothes. In fact, most leather is tanned using chromium (from 80 – 95% of all leather produced uses chrome tanning).

Where and why is it used?

The leather is tanned with chromium to prevent it from decomposition and to disperse the dyes. (Yak….)

What impact can it have on your health?

The most frequent are allergic reactions, lung cancer, nasal irritation, nasal ulcer, contact dermatitis and asthma. It can also cause the damage of the immune system, kidney, and livers.

What can you do to protect your health?

If you can’t live without this biker leather jacket, choose vegetable tanned one. You will not notice the difference in colour and your body will be much happier.

 

 

DIOXINS

What is it?

Dioxins are known as one of the strongest poisons which man is able to produce. They are highly toxic chemical compounds that are harmful to health. 

Where and why is it used?

In relation to textiles, dioxins are used as a preservative for cotton and other fibres during sea transit, as well as in cotton bleaching. It’s also found in some dyestuffs. 

What impact can it have on your health?

Dioxins cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

What can you do to protect your health?

Buy less but better clothes from green companies; clothes that are made of natural fabrics, without toxic dyes and finishes. Often, they are skin-planet-and-pocket-friendly and will last longer because of high-quality fabric and finishing.

 

 

DMF (DIMETHYLFORMAMIDE)

What is it?

DMF is as a solvent with a low evaporation rate.

Where and why is it used?

DMF is used in the production of acrylic fibres and polyurethane products as well as in the manufacture of artificial leathers, films and surface coatings. 

What impact can it have on your health?

DMF was proved to cause the cancers in humans, and it is thought to cause birth defects.

What can you do to protect your health?

To be sure your clothes are safe for you and the environment, look for products with bluesign® product label or any other textile certification that is globally recognized.

 

 

FORMALDEHYDE

What is it?

Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound that is present in nature in small quantities. It’s colourless with a strong pickle-like odour. 

Where and why is it used?

When made into a resin, formaldehyde is used in textile finishing after manufacturing to make them wrinkle and parasites resistant during shipping.

These finishes are most likely to be used on fabrics that otherwise crease easily, such as cotton, blended cotton, wool, corduroy, and all sort of synthetic fabrics.

What impact can it have on your health?

Formaldehyde can cause eczema, asthma, lungs cancer, allergic skin reactions, rare cancers, and heart palpitations.

What can you do to protect your health?

Wash your new clothes before you wear them! Formaldehyde is very water-soluble, and washing the new garments before wearing will generally reduce the amount of formaldehyde and other harmful agents released from the fabric.

The other thing you can do is to avoid clothes that are labelled “easy care”, “wrinkle-free” or “shrinkage-free” because chances are that these properties are due to formaldehyde.

You can also opt for second-hand clothes that often contain much less chemical residue than new garment simply because they were already washed several times.

If you are not a fan of vintage clothes and you don’t like ironing, choose clothes made of Tencel®. This fabric has natural anti-wrinkle properties, is super smooth, breathable, which makes it perfect for people with skin conditions.

 

 

PFC (PERFLUOROCARBON) 

What is it?

PFC is a persistent pollutant that does not break down when it is released into the environment. 

Where and why is it used?

Often the outdoor clothing is treated with PFC to enable fabrics to repel water, stain, and oil. In other words, PFC makes the clothes waterproof.

What impact can it have on your health?

PFC is quite harmful. It can cause liver toxicity, developmental changes, immune system alterations, testicular and kidney cancers, as well as obesity. 

What can you do to protect your health?

The best way to protect yourself from PFC is to look for PFC-free outdoor garments. Another alternative is superfine merino wool that has natural water-resistant properties. Not to mention that it is probably the only wool that beneficial for eczema sufferers as it alleviates its symptoms.

 

 

TRICLOSAN & NANOPARTICLE SILVER

What is it?

Triclosan and nanoparticle silver are antibacterial and antifungal agents.

Where and why is it used?

Both are used to produce the water-resistant outdoor garment as well as in sport garments to give the clothes “anti-odour” properties. They are also used in the production of polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and acrylic fibres.

What impact can it have on your health?

Triclosan and nanoparticle silver can cause liver and inhalation toxicity, hormone disruption and DNA damage. 

What can you do to protect your health?

choose Organic cotton, hemp or Tencel®

 

 

PHTHALATES 

What is it?

Phthalates are chemicals that make plastic soft and flexible. 

Where and why is it used?

Phthalates are added to clothes to increase their flexibility, longevity and durability. They are often found in common synthetic leather substitutes. 

What impact can it have on your health?

They cause breast cancers, adult obesity, reduces testosterone in men and women and may cause birth defects.

What can you do to protect your health?

Instead of choosing the synthetic fabrics, go for natural ones. Organic cotton, hemp or Tencel® are great and much healthier alternatives.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE

Use the below rules when you navigate in this tricky fashion world:
  1. Buy less but better.
  2. If possible, do the research before purchase.
  3. Always wash the new-purchased clothes before you wear them.
  4. Invest more in clean (healthy) fashion: fibres that are natural, skin-friendly, biodegradable, and treated with non-toxic dyes.

 

 

 

Sources:
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00003-019-01245-1
https://www.nicnas.gov.au/chemical-information/factsheets/chemical-name/formaldehyde-in-clothing-and-textiles
https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/chrome-free-leather/
https://remake.world/stories/news/there-are-hidden-chemicals-in-our-clothing/

 

 

 

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