Martin Fox, Ph.D. author of Healthy Water for Longer Life describes that we absorb more through our skin than through ingesting. In a 15-minute bath, the average adult absorbs 63% of the elements in the water. Drinking 2 liters of water, the absorption rate of elements is only 27%.
As we can get sick with “sick” clothes, healthy clothes can make us healthier. There are several ways our skin can guard us, as it stays guard outside our body for our inner body. Skin is our bodyguard for our inside. It keeps our inside in. If our skin is not healthy it cannot protect us, it cannot breathe and regulate body temperature. Unhealthy skin cannot sweat right, invigorate and synthesis vitamin D properly.
Not that long ago, people were stuck to the natural fibers: wool, cashmere, cotton, silk, linen, and hemp.
But if you take a look at your clothing labels today, you are likely to find materials like rayon, polyester, acrylic, acetate and nylon. And your shirts and slacks may be treated to be wrinkle-free or stain resistant.
These technological advances in fabrics may make our lives simpler, but at what cost? Chemically treated natural and synthetic fabrics are a source of toxins that adversely affect your health and the health of the planet.
Here’s our short list of fabrics to avoid, and the healthy ones to pick instead.
Top 6 Toxic Fabrics
1. Polyester is the worst fabric you can buy. It is made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid.
2. Acrylic fabrics are polycrylonitriles and may cause cancer, according to the EPA.
3. Rayon is recycled wood pulp that must be treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.
4. Acetate and Triacetate are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.
5. Nylon is made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.
6. Anything static resistant, stain resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, stain proof or moth repellant. Many of the stain resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon.
Keep in mind that many fabrics (including natural fibers) undergo significant processing that often involves:
- Petrochemical dyes
- Formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Dioxin-producing bleach
- Chemical fabric softeners
These additives are often toxic to the human body, may contain heavy metals and can pollute our environment.
With these kinds of warnings, what can you do?
If you are chemically sensitive or just want to surround yourself with healthy fabrics, there are new options.
The more synthetic clothing you wear, the greater your risk of absorbing toxic chemicals that harm your health. Skin is the largest body organ and when toxins are absorbed through your skin, they bypass your liver, the organ responsible for removing toxins. You also may not realize that your skin keeps you healthy by venting up to a pound of toxins per day.
Petrochemical fibers restrict and suffocate your skin shutting down toxic release. Meanwhile, they contribute to your total toxic burden and may become the “tipping point” for triggering the onset of disease.
Two contributing factors:
- Toxic buildup in your body
- Multiple chemicals that interact together to create even worse problems than the individual chemicals by themselves.
Skin rashes, nausea, fatigue, burning, itching, headaches, and difficulty breathing are all associated with chemical sensitivity. If you have mysterious health symptoms that you can’t seem to get control over, it’s worth checking out whether your clothes could be the problem.
Here’s what you can do:
Choose natural fibers.
- Cotton — preferably organic. It remains the “king” of textiles. Organic accounts for less than 1% of worldwide production.
- Flax — one of nature’s strongest fibers.
- Hemp — grows without any need for fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides because it’s naturally insect-resistant. Its fibers are reported to be four times stronger than cotton. This is NOT the hemp known for its mind-altering properties!
- Silk — known as the “queen of fabrics”. Watch out for the use of synthetic dyes in silk.
- Wool — most of today’s wool is contaminated with chemicals, i.e., pesticides used to kill parasites. But organic wool is becoming more common.
- Other — alpaca, angora, camel, cashmere, mohair, ramie, aluyot. Read more
Best is to go organic.
The Organic Trade Association estimates that one non-organic cotton T-shirt uses one-third pound of pesticides and fertilizers. Cotton production uses one-fourth of all the world’s fertilizers. It’s another good reason to choose organic cotton to add to the ones above.
When we choose organic cotton clothing, we not only benefit directly from its superior comfort and durability, we also help to minimize harm to our health and the planet’s ecosystems. From seed-preparation to weed control and harvesting, organic growing methods have proven to be safer because they rely on toxic chemicals. Organic cotton involves untreated seeds, crop rotation and water retention in the soil by adding organic matter, hand removed weeds from the crops and natural biological practices for pest control.
Organic cotton represents safe and sustainable practices. People with allergies and chemical sensitivity especially benefit from organic cotton clothing, as conventional cotton may retain harmful toxic residues. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, organic cotton will just feel better on your skin.
Organic farming is not only safer and healthier for farmers, but also encourages just economic systems in the supply chain. It provides an economically viable and socially acceptable alternative to large-scale farming and dependence on subsidies.
So why wait, let’s make a start. Check out organic cotton clothing option next time when are you are in stores. Don’t let babies, toddlers and kids wear toxic clothes. They are soft and they need soft. Nature has given us the best option. 100% organic cotton.
Be safe buy safe.
“Killer Clothes” written by Anna Maria Clement, PhD, NMD, LN and Brian R. Clement, PhD, NMD, LN