By Rosa Deluca
Tests conducted in Britain by Greenpeace have found residues of hazardous chemicals in children’s clothing and shoes sold by major brands, including fast fashion, sportswear and luxury brands. Eighty-two items were studied and traces of toxins were found in all but six. The study confirms that the use of hazardous chemicals is still widespread – even during the manufacture of clothes for children and infants. Let that sink in for a moment. Yikes.
The chemicals detected included hormone-disrupting nonylphenol ethoxylates and phthalates, reproductive and immune toxins in the perfluorochemicals family, and antimony (a material similar to arsenic and organotins), which can damage immune and nervous systems. Greenpeace said that while amounts were small and there’s no evidence that children wearing the items would be harmed, precaution nevertheless called for an end to their use in textile production. But until manufacturers change their ways, here’s a few things parents can do:
•If you buy something that you suspect is toxic (like it smells bad), wash it, wash it, wash it! The more you wash it, the more the toxins will be removed.
•Just say no to sandals, shoes, boots or raingear made entirely or predominantly from rubber or plastic-like materials. Keep an eye out when shopping for shoes treated with anti-microbial chemicals.
•Rid wardrobes of garments screen printed with plastisol, the thick, rubbery material used to create slightly raised designs and logos.
•Don’t purchase clothing promising stain-resistant, waterproof or odor-fighting performance technologies, which utilize toxic chemicals.
•Steer clear of polyester, which frequently contains traces of antimony. Stick to natural fiber clothing, preferably certified organic cotton, or select clothing manufactured in the US and Europe where regulations are generally stricter. Or buy or accept pre-loved clothing from friends or second-hand shops (the more the fabric is washed, the less toxins the fabric will retain).
•Don’t add insult to injury. Wash clothing in plant-based detergents without synthetic fragrances, which can contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. Let your clothes line dry. Literally, air them out. The sun will also help the toxins to break down faster.