Protection From Toxic Chemicals in Clothing

April 18, 2015

by Paul Fassa, Natural Health Journalist

( Even after avoiding GMOs and produce from soil soaked herbicides and heavily sprayed with pesticides, purifying your water to remove chlorides and fluorides, even purifying your inside air with plants or mechanical means, you still have another chemical hazard issue to deal with – protection from toxic chemicals in clothing.

Do you know your clothing contains a lot of heavy residue from toxic dyes and processes, and some synthetic textiles used for clothing are toxic themselves? Do you know how heavily sprayed conventional cotton is?

Toxic chemicals are almost always used for processing garment fibers and also for manufacturing clothes. Asian and third world countries manufacture most textiles and clothes, and their industrial pollution and workplace chemical safeguard standards are usually lacking or ignored.

I am not fear mongering. I simply prefer to disclose the ugly truth as a warning with tips on how to minimize the danger in the second part of this article. This is worthy of consideration as clothing clings to our largest organ – the skin.

How the Garment Industry is Harming You and the Environment

After clothes are made, they are often covered with formaldehyde to keep them from wrinkling or becoming mildewed during shipping. Several severe allergic reactions to formaldehyde have been reported, and investigations have discovered up to 900 times the recommended safe level of formaldehyde in clothing shipped to brand name clothiers from factories in China and Southeast Asia.

Synthetic materials are produced with toxic chemicals, and while they may not produce immediate reactions for most, the long term accumulation of these toxins added to our polluted air, water, and food can cause numerous health ailments, including cancer.

Clothing that doesn’t require ironing or is labeled wrinkle free may even contain perfluorinated chemicals (PFC) used to make Teflon – this carcinogenic chemical is known to cause health issues. Another commonly used clothing or textile factory chemical is nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE). Known as endocrine disruptors like BPA, nonylphenos have been dumped into adjacent waterways killing a lot of fish and wild life.

This negative effect on sea wildlife is primarily why various concerned agencies in Europe and America restrict its use. But there are no restrictions where the clothing and textile factories are located in China and Southeast Asia.

Dr. Richard Dixon of the World Wildlife Federation warns about the ecological impact on wildlife: “Urgent action is needed to replace hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives especially in clothing and other consumer products.” (Emphasis added).

Additionally, black clothing and dyes for leathers often contain p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), which can produce allergic reactions. Carcinogenic flame retardants can appear in bedding and nightwear.

Lastly, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dioxin-producing bleach have been used by textile industries, where the materials for clothing are produced. Dioxin is the active ingredient for Agent Orange. Google that if you weren’t around in the 1970s and ’80s.

Almost all textile products come with toxic chemical influences: Towels, bedding, carpeting, and curtains are included. Commonly used flame retardants are retarded. They don’t stop fires and their undetectable off-gassing is carcinogenic. No wonder enclosed inside air is more toxic than outside air in most areas.

Here’s How to Protect Yourself from Clothing Chemicals

If you launder with common supermarket toxic detergents, switch to natural detergents. It will take a few washings to remove the residual toxic detergent ingredients completely.

Read clothing labels and try to avoid synthetic materials such as Rayon, Nylon, Polyester, Acrylic, Acetate or Triacetate as much as possible. Also avoid no-iron, wrinkle free and preshrunk items.

Basically, try to stay with the 100% pure organic cotton or hemp clothing. There are those options, pricey, but available online. Reportedly less pricey options can be found here.

Wash and dry clothes containing synthetic materials three times before wearing. Some folks add baking soda (not baking powder) to help neutralize new clothing chemicals while using only natural detergents, of course. Also, avoid those dryer sheets that prevent clinging unless you can find them without toxic chemicals.

Stay away from dry cleaners that use perchloroethylene, commonly known as PERC. There are actually some that don’t. Find them or forget dry cleaning.

Even used clothing purchased from thrift stores may be sprayed with some chemical before they’re put up for sale. You may be able to smell that chemical odor. Wash with natural detergent, borax, and/or baking soda at least once before wearing for the first time.

Go here on this site and determine which detox solution or solutions suit you, and perform them as often as practical. Spring cleaning should also include your body.


Images: (graphic explanation of garment industry toxic pollution cycle)