You could be wearing toxic clothing and you don’t know it

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We are aware of the toxins in pesticides that make their way to our food, but the chemicals in our clothes are rarely thought of as a concern. Despite our measures to avoid chemically-sprayed foods and toxins in our drinking water, what we often don’t hear about is the possibility that the clothes we’re wearing may be toxic for you. Clothing manufacturers utilize many chemical and mechanical processes in order to make the functional and fashionable clothing that we wear everyday. What most of us don’t realize is that they may contain substances that are potentially hazardous to the environment and to our own health and well-being. The most common substances used in the production and processing of fiber crops include pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

A few common toxic chemicals used in the production of clothing materials and textiles are:

  • Formaldehyde is a transparent, flammable, strong-smelling compound that is used in permanent press, embalming process, and household products. In 2005–2006, it was the 7thmostprevalent allergen in patch tests.  The Department of Health and Human Services classifies formaldehyde as “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen”.
  • Sulfuric acid is a clear, dense, oily liquid principally used in the production of fertilizers, for example, superphosphate of lime and ammonium sulfate. It is commonlythe major ingredient in acidic drain cleaners. It is known to be highly corrosive, which can cause redness, pain, burns, and blistering that can lead to permanent scarring.
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylates range from transparent to light-orange oily liquids or waxy solids, and are considered to be chemically stable and unreactive. It is a surfactant that is used in textile and paper processing, paints, resins, protective coatings, and pest control products. This type of chemical could affect our endocrine system and bring about adverse effects in humans and animals.

Awareness of unsafe substances used in clothing and fabric should not be taken lightly. Find out what goes into manufacturing your clothes. Determine whether these textile chemicals are absorbed by your skin, and what this means to your health. Switching to organic and eco-friendly fabric may not be the at forefront of our minds when thinking about living a healthy and green lifestyle, but we can still opt for positive choices by going for the safer alternative whenever possible.

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