Have you ever bought a piece of clothing that claims to be wrinkle-free, water-resistant or stain-resistant? Maybe you’ve though “wow, that’s cool”.
Well, it turns out it’s not so cool after all…
WATER AND STAIN-RESISTANT
If your clothes claim to be water, stain, oil, grease, or heat-resistant, chances are they’ve been treated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). These are a group of highly toxic chemicals that build up in our bodies over time and never break down in the environment. Because of this, they are also called “the forever chemicals” (1). PFAS are problematic because:
- PFAS have been linked to a variety of health risks including cancers, hormone disruption, liver problems, thyroid problems, reproductive harm, and fetal development (1).
- The chemicals pollute at throughout its production cycle. They contaminate the manufacturing facilities while also making their way into our aie, water and soil (1).
- Manufacturers are not required to disclose their use of PFAS (1).
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling, flammable chemical applied to make clothes wrinkle-free (2). If your new shirt smells like chemicals, it has likely been treated with Formaldehyde. This chemical can be problematic because:
- Inhaling the chemical is linked to nausea, asthma, and cancer, while wearing it is often associated with dermatitis. Symptoms linked to dermatitis include rashes, itchiness, blisters, and dry skin (3).
Antibacterial clothing is often treated with triclosan, silver nanoparticles, or phthalates.
- The FDA banned the use of Triclosan in soaps because they could not prove that it was safe or useful. The chemical has been linked to disruption in hormonal development, a reduction in bacterial resistance and an increase in allergies (4).
- Silver nanoparticles have been linked to hormone disruption and DNA damage (5).
- Phthalates have been linked to cancers and hormone disruptions.
- These chemicals get released into our air and waterways as we wear and wash our clothes.
- Look for natural alternatives (such as organic cotton, linen, silk etc.) and stay away from synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon, acrylics etc.) Make sure they have certifications (see point #2).
- Look for certifications such as OEKO-TEX and GOTS. This means the fabrics have not been treated with harmful chemicals or toxins during the development process.
- Always wash your new clothes before you wear them. Although they will still contain chemicals (unless certified organic) it could help reduce skin irritations.
DOING OUR PART
Cea wants to be part of the solution, which is why we created our pieces from GOTS certified organic cotton and OEKO-TEX certified dyes. We want you to feel confident when buying and wearing our clothes, knowing they are better for your skin and better for the environment. Read more about our sustainability practices here.
1. April 06, 2022 Courtney Lindwall Molly M. Ginty. “‘Forever Chemicals’ Called Pfas Show up in Your Food, Clothes, and Home.” NRDC, 11 Aug. 2022, https://www.nrdc.org/stories/forever-chemicals-called-pfas-show-your-food-clothes-and-home.
2. “Formaldehyde - Cancer-Causing Substances.” National Cancer Institute, National Cancer Institute, 14 Feb. 2019, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde.
3. Bendix, Aria. “7 Toxic Chemicals Hiding in Your Waterproof, Stain-Resistant, and Wrinkle-Free Clothes.” Business Insider, Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/toxic-chemicals-in-clothes-cancer-2019-7.
4. “What Is Triclosan and Why Should You Avoid It?” What Is Triclosan and Why Should You Avoid It?, Nourished Life, 5 May 2017, https://www.nourishedlife.com.au/article/3243/what-triclosan-why-should-you-avoid.html.
5. Dupree, Lydia. “The Dangers of ‘Resistant’ Fashion.” LinkedIn, 5 Apr. 2022, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dangers-resistant-fashion-lydia-dupree.