HOW GREEN ARE YOU? – When we mention DETOX what do you think of?
No doubt your mind goes to detoxing your body, but there is much more that needs detoxing, such as your house, your car, your garden, and yes your wardrobe.
Naturally if you are like many of us, we take one step at a time. But let’s look at what you put on close to your skin, your clothes and what you wash them in.
Laundry products are rife with chemicals, anything with “Fragrance” is asking for trouble as fragrance is petroleum based and linked to many health conditions ranging from allergies to hormone disruption. Some are even suspected carcinogens. Manufacturers do not have to list these on the product. Even unscented products may contain these to mask the smell of other chemicals so check the label for “Parfum” or “fragrance”.
Fabric Softeners: these have chemicals such as quats, which are linked to reproductive harm and respiratory problems such as asthma. Chemicals listed may read any variant of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate. Distearyldimoium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride.
Laundry detergent: a toxic group of chemicals often found here along with being used in manufacture of clothing, are nonylphenol ethoxylates. Lab studies have found that when these break down they can be connected to reproductive and development harm. These chemicals end up in the environment through going down drains. It has been found in breast milk. The EU has banned these chemicals in the production of clothing and many US firms have voluntary followed this lead.
As with Shampoo, Laundry detergent uses SLS (Sodium lauryl sulfate) to remove dirt and give the foaming action, however the contra indication of this is skin , eye, and lung irritation. Along with indications that it is toxic to our aquatic environment. Other surfactants are sodium laureth solfate (SLES), Ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES), and ammonium lauyl sulfate (ALS).
Be aware that SLS and SLES can be plant derived, so you need to watch out for them even in “Green” laundry detergents. These are fine.
Brightening agents in your detergent: these chemicals do nothing but add a coating to your clothes reflecting the light to make them look brighter. They have been known to cause skin irritation along with accumulating in aquatic sediments and causing harm to aquatic life.
Formaldehyde: This can show up on your clothes when purchasing or in detergents but may not be listed on packaging. Fragrance is a great hiding spot for this chemical as when it reacts with ozone it creates formaldehyde. Clothes dryer sheets are a perfect example of this reaction. There are some preservatives, especially one known as quaternium-15 and any with “urea” in the name, release small amounts of formaldehyde over time into your laundry products and clothing. Formaldehyde should be avoided at all costs as it is linked to cancer and other health issues. You are no doubt exposed to it daily through different household products, your furniture, maybe your carpet or even your kitchen cupboards.
WE HAVE LOOKED AT YOUR LAUNDRY NOW LET’S LOOK AT WHAT YOU WEAR!!!!!!!
The clothing you are currently wearing may contain toxins without you being aware, and these toxins along with environmental toxins have the ability to cause cancer, hormone disruption, liver damage neurodegenerative diseases (particularly dementia and Alzheimer’s), diabetes and gut issues and much more. How often do you think of toxic clothing, and considering you are in contact with it for many hours at a time, and chemicals can be absorbed through the skin. Some chemicals used in manufacturing remain in clothing even after washing. So Lets see how we can avoid the most dangerous fabrics.
Waterproof Fabric “forever Chemicals” (PFAS): Waterproof or water-resistant clothing may contain a number of chemicals, including some known as “forever chemicals”. PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) or PFCs (perfluorochemicals) were nicknamed “Forever Chemicals” because of how long they persist in the environment, which can last for thousands of years. They became popular because they could resist water, heat, and stains.
The downside is that various PFAS have been linked to prostrate, kidney and testicular cancer, reproductive issues, hormone disorders, liver damage, developmental problems, reduced immune response, and ulcerative colitis.
Due to these damaging findings, certain PFAS (particularly PFOA) have been phased out., but other chemicals from the same family are still used, especially in waterproof outdoor gear.
If you absolutely need waterproof clothing look for PFAS free, several brands now are producing this type of outdoor gear.
Blue Jeans and Dark dyed clothing: AZO DYES: Azo dyes are the most commonly used synthetic dyes not only in the clothing industry, but also in the printing industry, paper manufacturing, food, cosmetics, and other industries. You will come across them in a number of different fabrics (even natural fibers that have been dyed synthetically), but they are most commonly used for blue denim clothing and will be most concentrated in dark blue, black, or brown clothing. Azo dyes tend to be water soluble, which is why clothing that contains them often carry a warning to avoid washing them with other clothing the first couple of times. This being the case indicates the dye can come off on your skin and be absorbed into your body. Azo dyes can cause skin irritation for those sensitive to the chemical p-phenylenediamine. What is more important is that certain types of azo dyes release chemicals known as amines, which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) even some that do not release amines have been labelled potentially carcinogenic. The EU have banned certain azo dyes known to release carcinogenic amines, but other countries still use them.
Try to purchase light coloured clothing to limit exposure, or undyed natural fabric, or plant based dyed clothing.
Wrinkle-Resistant Fabric- Formaldehyde: yes we come back to the dreaded formaldehyde !!!!
Formaldehyde is a strong smelling chemical that’s often used for embalming—and to keep your clothes from wrinkling. You will most often find it in fabric that is labelled “wrinkle-free,” “permanent press” and “static-free” but it may be present in a wide range of clothing, manufacturers still use it very frequently. This is extremely unfortunate from a health perspective because formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies and is also linked to several types of cancer in humans. Besides cancer, formaldehyde can also cause skin irritation, respiratory issues and nausea. As the garment is meant to remain wrinkle free its entire life, this meaning the chemical may remain in the fabric for many many washes or even the life of the garment.
As it is not mandatory to list this on the label- but a few manufacturers have chosen to not use this and state this on the label- look for these.
Stain- resistant Clothing: Chemical Solvents & More PFAS:
A solvent is defined as a substance that can dissolve or disperse another substance. That doesn’t sound very harmful on the surface—and after all, even water is considered a solvent—but the solvents most often used in clothing manufacturing are not benign. Harsh chemical solvents are used to dissolve stains and keep them from appearing (i.e. stain-resistant fabric), to inhabit bacterial growth, and to act as flame retardants. They are also frequently used in the production of dyes and printing inks. This means they can be present in a wise range of clothing but are most likely to be found in water-and stain-repellent clothing and dyed or printed clothing.
Solvents like benzene, trichloroethylene, and others are classified as carcinogens, meaning they are known to cause cancer. Others, like 2-methoxyethanol and methyl chloride, can cause reproductive harm. Still others are neurotoxins that can damage your nervous system and brain. Not only are you exposed to these toxins simply by wearing clothing, they are extremely hazardous for the workers who have to handle the chemicals during manufacturing and often end up contaminating the soil, water, and air around factories as well.
Stain resistant clothing is most likely to contain PFAS chemicals as well.
Printed Clothing: VOCs & Plasticizers:
VOCs is an abbreviation for volatile organic compounds. This refers to a wide range of chemicals that are all toxic and can all be emitted into the air where they are easily inhaled. Some of the chemicals already mentioned in this report are considered VOCs, specifically formaldehyde and many different types of chemical solvents, but there are also Many more—too many to list.
There are two main dangers associated with VOCs. First, as mentioned, they are extremely easy to inhale, which means they enter your system quickly and can eventually end up in your bloodstream. And you really do not want to be inhaling VOCs because of the second danger; They are linked to numerous health issues, including chronic respiratory problems (like Asthma), cancer, liver and kidney damage, throat and skin irritation, and chronic headaches. Numerous types of clothing may contain VOCs, you can always tell by the “New clothing smell”, which actually comes from a number of chemicals off-gassing into the air- ALWAYS WASH NEW CLOTHES SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE WEARING THEM. However, clothing with letters or a design are most likely to contain a number of VOCs. This is because VOC chemicals are often used to make the printing dye and get certain types of designs to adhere to the fabric. Some images and logos that are raised off of the fabric may also contain plasticizers (used to make materials flexible), which are linked to endocrine disruption, decreased fertility, and reproductive issues.
Leather Jackets, Etc: Chromium:
Real leather products are made from animal hides by a process known as tanning. The hides are put through a variety of treatments to make them more durable, more pliable, and more water-resistant. Historically, the processing of leather largely relied on the use of tannins, which were acidic hasfrom. However times have changed and most leather is now treated with chemicals known as chromium salts. Hexavalent chromium is a specific type of chromium used widely in leather tanning and other industrial processes. It is very toxic to human health and is a known carcinogenic, Coming in contact with Hexavalent chromium can cause skin irritation (and worse), and it’s even more hazardous for those who work with it, potentially causing lung, nasal, or sinus cancer, kidney and liver damage, skin ulceration, and eye damage.
Some leather products were even banned from entering the EU in 2014 because they contained chromium, but other countries still use it, as in the past leather clothing from China has been found to contain high levels of chromium.
So I hear you say— lets go Faux/ Vegan—- READ Below
FAUX/VEGAN Leather and activewear: Plasticizers & Phthalates:
For those who choose not to wear animal products/leather, vegan leather is an attractive alternative, but it has a very misleading name.
The word “Vegan” in the name gives the impression that faux leather is “healthy” and non-toxic, but this is usually far from the truth. Most types of vegan or faux leather are made from plastic polymers, mainly polyurethane (as in the case of PU leather) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). You do not want either of these products to be in contact with your skin for long periods of time. Plastics are known to contain various endocrine-disrupting chemicals, especially a type known as phthalates. You may have heard of phthalates because they are everywhere (shower curtains, nail polish, steering wheels, etc). Studies have linked phthalates to hormone disorders, reproductive problems, Asthma, allergies, INCREASED cancer risk.
And unfortunately, vegan leather isn’t the only place you will find phthalates.
The comfortable activewear and sportswear that everyone loves are often made with plasticizers to make them softer and more durable, which means they are also full of phthalates and other hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Its worth looking online for Vegan leather made from cork, or active wear brands that do not use plasticizers.
Synthetic Fabrics: Petroleum-Based Chemicals:
Most, if not all, synthetic fabrics have a boat-load of chemicals added to them during the manufacturing process. Polyester, for instance, is a hugely popular synthetic fabric that is usually derived from petroleum. Not only is it incredibly destructive to the environment during production (and disposal), polyester fabrics have also been found to shed microplastics with each wash.
Microplastics are being discovered in more and more places all over the world, particularly in bodies of water, and can be ingested by both animals and humans.
The long term health effects of microplastics aren’t known yet (research on this has just begun) but chemicals from plastic are already linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and more.
Polyester is not the only one, most other synthetic fabrics contain some amount of plastic and petroleum-derived chemicals. Spandex is made mostly of polyurethane (the same problematic plastic in vegan leather), and nylon is usually made out of chemicals from petroleum and coal. Even rayon, which is made from trees and bamboo, goes through a chemical-intensive process to get it to the end fabric.
The bottom line is any man made/ synthetic fabric has chemicals used on it to get it from start to end. You may look for bio-polyester which uses natural materials rather than petroleum, but it will still be chemically treated as it is a man made synthetic.
Conventional Cotton: Pesticides & GMOs:
Cotton is a natural fiber that has a lot going for it— breathability, durability, ect—but not when it’s conventionally grown and sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.
Many conventional pesticides and herbicides are highly toxic and have increasingly been linked to health problems like hormone disruption, cancer, respiratory issues, and developmental problems.
Ther’s growing awareness over the dangers of pesticides used on the foods we eat (discussed in previous newsletters) but most people are not as aware of the amount of chemicals used on the “natural” clothing they wear. Cotton can be particularly hazardous to your health because it’s one of the largest GMO crops in the world. For those who wish to avoid GMOs, this is bad in itself, but it gets worse.. There are two main types of genetically modified cotton. One type makes the cotton more resistant to a pest known as the bollworm and the second makes it resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides (the widely used chemical that has now been linked to cancer).
This means that the second type of GMO cotton crop is specifically engineered to have more glyphosate sprayed on it—more of a potentially cancer causing chemical.
So to avoid conventional cotton and not have this near your skin, choose organic cotton where possible.
WELL NOW YOU ARE MORE AWARE OF THE TOXINS IN YOUR WARDROBE…..
How can you choose better in future.
READ THE LABEL BEFORE YOU BUY.
Most of us are very used to reading labels on all our food items- this will be very similar. Natually you will not find all chemicals listed. But your key items to look for are:
What fabric is the clothing made of? Is it natural, Synthetic, Recycled…?
Is it..”stain-resistant”, “wrinkle-resistant”, and “waterproof”, these indicate it is highly toxic, avoid or research the brand and ensure treatments are PFAS free.
Look for descriptions such as “undyed” or “naturally dyed”
TRY TO CHOOSE THESE FABRICS INSTEAD:
Given how many chemicals are used to make any type of synthetic fabric, natural textiles are a much better and healthier choice. Farics to look at are as follows:
Organic Cotton: As mentioned earlier, cotton can be a high quality, very breathable fabric as long as it doesn’t have chemicals from pesticide and insecticide residue. It can also be a very sustainable crop, although much work needs to be done in this direction. According to the Textile Exchange, only about 22% of the world’s cotton is sustainable. They hope to raise this number to 50% by 2025, which would make organic cotton a much more eco-friendly and non-toxic clothing choice.
Hemp: Hemp may just be one of the most sustainable crops on earth. Related to the marijuana plant but with no ability to get anyone high, hemp grows easily in many types of soil and naturally needs few to no pesticides or herbicides. This means that even non-organic hemp has a much lower toxic load than most other fibers. Hemp also requires only about half the water cotton needs in a growing season and can produce double the fiber yield of cotton in the same amount of growing space! The only downside to hemp is that it’s still a relatively new fabric due to a long-time ban in the US on hemp products, but it’s slowly picking up steam.
Linen: Linen may be considered an “old-fashioned” fabric—and indeed dates back to around 8000BC !— But it deserves a comeback. Linen is made out of fibers from the flax plant, which is another crop that naturally needs few pesticides or herbicides to thrive. These fibers produce a biodegradable fabric that is long-lasting when well-cared for and can hold up to a lot of use.
Bamboo: Bamboo is an extremely fast growing crop that requires little water and no pesticides to thrive, which gives it a lot of potential for producing less toxic fabric. And while bamboo can be a great clothing choice, it comes with a few “buts”. The biggest downside is that bamboo is a much tougher substance than cotton, hemp, or flax, which means it has to undergo much more processing to become a soft, comfortable fabric. This can mean a lot of chemical use, depending on which company brand is making the clothing and what their standards are. So do a little research into the company you are buying from.
Tencel: Tencel, or Tencel Lyocell, is actually a brand name fabric that is quickly becoming an excellent alternative to some synthetic fabrics. Its technically a type of rayon that uses sustainably grown wood pulp and a closed -loop processing system to cut down on harmful waste that might enter the environment. Because the manufacturing still uses chemical solvents, Tencel is NOT 100% non toxic, but is much better choice than conventional rayon or viscose. Notably, it can be used in activewear to replace “plastic” fabrics as well as added to many other types of clothing.
NEXT NEWSLETTER WE WILL LOOK AT CERTIFICATION LABELS FOR ORGANIC AND NON TOXIC CLOTHING.