Shun Chemical Filled Clothes


“Life is just chemicals. A drop here, a drip there, everything’s changed. A mere dribble of fermented juices and suddenly you’re going to live another few hours.”  ― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!


Between August and September 2014, two independent laboratories were commissioned by Greenpeace to test children’s shoes and children’s clothing from supermarkets. Greenpeace had the test results checked in a second laboratory if samples were classified as having a noticeable level of harmful substances per the organization’s own set of defining criteria.

In total, Greenpeace arranged for 26 samples (shoes and clothes for children and young adults) to be tested, all of which were bought from supermarkets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland between 26 May and 3 September 2014.

Even though they are harmful for humans as well as the environment, many chemical substances are still used in the textile industry and in the production of shoes, rainwear and sports equipment, even if the products concerned are specifically made for children. The Bremen Environmental Institute, one of the laboratories commissioned by Greenpeace, selected the substances to be analyzed depending on the material properties of the samples based on the following list of parameters: Acetophenone, 2-phenyl-2-propanol (2PP), N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF), nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), plasticizers (phthalates), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and per fluorinated chemicals (PFCs).

Dimethylformamide (DMF) is used as a solvent in the production of synthetic leather, leather and textiles. 2-phenyl-2-propanol (2PP) and acetophenone are frequently created in an uncontrolled manner as an undesired by-product in the production of plastic footwear such as clogs. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are contained in tar oils, some of which are used as plasticizers in the production of plastic and rubber. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) are widely used as a surfactant and detergent in wet processes in the textile industry or as a stabilizer and emulsifier in the production of plastic. Plasticizers in the phthalate group are widely used as additives for plastic products, such as in the plastic prints of T-shirts and pajamas. Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals are used to add a water-repellent finish to items of rainwear

Although there are more environmentally friendly alternatives for many of these applications, companies continue to use these chemicals. The present test is a continuation of previous Greenpeace tests that have focused on what were dubbed the eleven Detox chemicals. It includes additional harmful chemicals that are apparently used in shoe production, such as DMF, PAHs, acetophenone and 2PP. The greatest damage to the environment and human health exists in the countries of production, most of which are in Asia, where chemicals are released into the surface water.

  Number of questionable samples
 

 

 

Acetophenone

 

 

2PP (2-phenyl-2- propanal)

 

DMF (N,N-

dimethyl- formamide)

PAHs

(polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

 

 

Phthalates (plasticisers)

 

NPEs

(nonylphenol ethoxylates)

 

PFCs

(perfluorinated chemicals)

 

 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

 

0 of 3

shoes

 

 

0 of 3

shoes

 

 

1 of 3

shoes

 

 

3 of 3

shoes

0 of 3 shoes  

 

1 of 1

clothes

 

 

1 of 1

clothes

 
1 of 1 clothes
 
 

 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

 

 

0 of 3

 

 

 

1 of 3

 

 

 

 

2 of 3

 

 

 

3 of 3

 

0 of 3

 

0 of 1

 

not tested

 

not tested

 

 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

 

0 of 3

shoes

 

 

3 of 3

shoes

 

 

1 of 3

shoes

 

 

3 of 3

shoes

0 of 3 shoes  

not tested

 

not tested

 
0 of 1 clothes
 
 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

 

0 of 1

 

 

0 of 1

 

 

0 of 1

0  of 1

 

1  of 1

0 of 1

 

0 of 1

 

not tested

 

 

0 of 1

 

 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

 

0 of 1

shoes

 

 

0 of 1

shoes

 

 

0 of 1

shoes

 

 

1 of 1

clothes

0 of 1 shoes  

not tested

 

 

1 of 1

clothes

 
0 of 1 clothes
 
 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

 

1 of 1

 

 

1 of 1

 

not tested

 

 

1 of 1

 

 

0 of 1

 

 

1 of 1

 

not tested

 

 

 

 

1 of 1 shoes

 

 

1 of 1 shoes

 

not tested

 

not tested

 

not tested

 

 

1 of 1

clothes

 

not tested

 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

 

1 of 1

 

 

1 of 1

 

 

1 of 1

 

 

1 of 1

0 of 1

 

0 of 1

 

not tested

 

not tested

 

Supermarket

brand in Europe

 

not tested

 

not tested

 

0 of 1

shoes

 

1 of 1

shoes

 

1 of 2

clothes

 

1 of 1

clothes

 

not tested

 Relevant limit or reference values: DMF = 10 mg/kg, 2PP = 10 mg/kg, acetophenone = 20 mg/kg, phthalates = 100 mg/kg, NPEs: average limit, all evidence is listed, PAHs = 0.2 mg/kg in total, PFCs: see NPEs. For a description of the analytical methods used and supplementary tables showing the results for individual substances from the PAH, phthalate and PFC groups, please refer to the technical supplement to the report (in German) ‘Gefährliche Chemikalien in Kinderkleidung aus Supermärkten’ at www.greenpeace.de/detox

What are the dangers involved:

DMF is classified as dangerous to reproduction (it can harm the unborn child), acutely toxic and harmful to health when it makes contact with the skin. The German Committee on Hazardous Substances (AGS) designates DMF as a substance ‘for which it must be assumed from experience that there is a health-impairing effect due to intake through the skin’. It can also act as a carrier of other toxic substances. This means that toxic substances may penetrate the skin in combination with DMF although they are not otherwise absorbed on their own, or this happens only with difficulty.

There is evidence that 2PP can cause allergies in humans. It is irritating to the skin and eyes and it has a strong odor. Acetophenone is harmful to health and irritating to the eyes, and it has a very strong odor.

PAHs are a group of chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic and/or have a strong odor. They include benzo(a)pyrene (a component of tar oils) and naphthalene, which was once used in mothballs and gives off a distinctive tar-like odor.

PFCs, especially ionic PFCs such as PFOS and PFOA, are extremely persistent and hardly degrade at all when released into the environment, which is why they can be detected even in remote regions of the world. Due to their bio-accumulative properties, ionic PFCs have been detected in a variety of land and water organisms and in the blood and breast milk of humans around the world. Studies have shown that PFCs such as PFOS and PFOA can disrupt the hormonal system during the development phase and in adulthood, having a negative effect on the reproductive organs and the immune system. Furthermore, they have been identified as potentially carcinogenic in animal research.

NPEs are a group of synthetically produced chemicals that are very often used as surfactants in textile production or as plasticizers and emulsifiers in plastics. In the environment, NPEs degrade to form nonylphenols (NPs); these are toxic, persistent, bio-accumulative and can disrupt the hormonal system. There is evidence that NPs accumulate in the tissues of many creatures. The detection of NPEs in end products shows that these substances were used in the manufacturing process. This probably means that NPEs and NPs are discharged into the wastewater from factories. Moreover, NPE residues in the final products are rinsed out when washed, at which point they enter the public sewage systems of those countries where the products are sold.

Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers in plastics such as soft PVCs. Since phthalates do not create a chemical bond to the plastic, they enter the environment when the product is used and after its disposal. Phthalates are often found in indoor environments, for instance in air and in dust. They are also commonly found in human tissue, and the reported quantities ingested in children are significantly higher than in adults. There is a reasonable suspicion that phthalates are toxic to animals and humans and that they disrupt the hormonal system. For example, it is known that DEHP, one of the most commonly used phthalates, has an adverse effect on reproduction in mammals, can compromise the development of the testes in early childhood and may even have a negative effect on female fertility.

Greenpeace might have done this study based on apparel imported into Europe but these products are imported in US from the same Asian manufacturing hubs. This eye-opening report shows how important it has become to study your and your kids closet. Are these dangerous chemicals lurking in your kids clothes and footwear too?

Fashion is to charm and not to harm.

What you can do?:

  1. Just say no to sandals, shoes, boots or rain-gear made entirely or predominantly from rubber- or plastic-like materials. Keep an eye out when shopping for shoes treated with anti-microbial chemicals.
  2. Rid wardrobes of garments screen printed with plastisol, the thick, rubbery material used to create slightly raised designs and logos.
  3. Don’t purchase clothing promising stain-resistant, waterproof, or odor-fighting performance, technologies which utilize toxic chemicals.
  4. Steer clear of polyester, which frequently contains traces of antimony.
  5. Stick to natural fiber clothing, preferably organic.
  6. Don’t add insult to injury. Wash clothing in plant-based detergent without synthetic fragrance, which can contain hormone disrupting chemicals. And skip the fragrant dryer sheets.

Read here to know how to read a clothing label to protect your skin.

Read more on this report

Read more on a study done is US

Read more on http://www.greenpeace.de/detox.

Greenpeace is an international organization with no party affiliation and complete independence from the political system, political parties and industry. Greenpeace fights for the protection of natural resources with non-violent action. More than half a million people in Germany donate to Greenpeace, helping to ensure our daily work to protect the environment. Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization, consisting of 28 independent national and regional offices with presence in 40 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Pacific; and Greenpeace International, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as the organization’s international coordinating body.

Featured image courtesy: http://www.healthychild.org

 

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