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December 11, 2017 4 min read

Unlike food or drugs that are carefully regulated by agencies like USDA or the FDA, clothing lacks a unified government regulating agency. With nanotechnology advancing further, many clothing companies are producing textiles in China with wrinkle-free, stain-free, or antimicrobial properties. The overwhelming majority of these chemically treated fabrics made in China are produced with toxins like pesticides and carcinogens that can negatively affect your health.

The clothing business is a trillion-dollar industry and it has become standard practice to manufacture clothing abroad using many blends of nearly 8,000 industry-accepted synthetic toxins. Anyone with known chemical sensitivities can tell you that such toxic clothing can be detrimental to your health, causing skin rashes, infertility, respiratory illness, and even cancer. Most consumers believe their clothing is safe, but as textile technology has advanced, chemical processes have become so ubiquitous, and sadly this is no longer true.

fabric rolls

Synthetic Fabrics are Manufactured with Multiple Chemicals

Wearing primarily synthetic fabrics puts you at a greater risk of absorbing chemicals from your clothing. Skin is our body’s largest organ, and it absorbs chemicals that are placed both on its surface and within the body. This makes us extremely susceptible to chemicals that are absorbed from clothing. These toxins are carried from our skin into our lymphatic system and then into our livers.

On average, our skin expels about one pound of toxins each day. Synthetic fabrics like Nylon that use petrochemicals restrict this natural ventilation thereby suffocating skin from releasing toxins. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylics undergo chemical processes that have been proven to cause cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Rayon, acetate, and triacetate fabrics even contain wood pulp known as cellulose.

The Most Technologically Advanced Fabrics are the Most Harmful

The most dangerous fabrics by far, whether it is clothing, table linens, towels, or bed sheets, are those that make heavy promises using nanotechnology. It is important for consumers to be extremely careful when purchasing clothing that promises to be stain proof or resistant, wrinkle-free, static proof, or with antimicrobial properties. These types of clothing are often manufactured in China using perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), formaldehyde, or petrochemical dyes that are known to be toxic to humans.

Organizations such as the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) are so concerned about toxins in clothing that they have issued a warning to parents advising them to check their children’s clothing labels for harmful chemicals such as PFCs. Their report identified that fabrics containing formaldehyde produced a 30% increased risk of lung cancer or skin disease. Unfortunately, unlike other governments, the United States does not restrict the use of formaldehyde in clothing.

Made in China label

Beware of Clothing Made in China

Clothing made in China is the worst offender. They often contain high levels of formaldehyde in addition to a slew of other known toxins. In addition to the chemical processes of fabrics, the dyes used can also be harmful. While dark blue is a very enticing color, disperse blue dye #1 is classified as a carcinogen that produces malignant tumors in lab rats. This is in addition to several other dyes that are also known carcinogens.

To make matters worse many sellers using these unscrupulous Chinese clothing manufacturers list their products using false claims. Some even place fake FDA-approved labels on their products or listings in an attempt to make themselves seem more official. Consumers need to be aware that any such claims are always false when it comes to clothing as there is no government agency that regulates clothing, and certainly not the Food & Drug Administration.

The Appeal of Synthetic Fabrics is Not Worth the Risk

Recently, the U.S. Marine Corps decided to ban troops based in Iraq from wearing synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and acrylic even when off-duty. This is because too many soldiers have suffered from burns or fabric that adhered to their skin in the high temperatures. Even flame-resistant fabrics have been proven to be toxic and many people question whether those too cause more harm than good.

As for the use of synthetic materials in athletic wear and socks, the benefits of antimicrobial fabrics might not be as great as once thought. One study compared the use of a linen shirt with a polyester one over the course of five hours while exercising. It found that those who wore natural linen performed better than those who wore the synthetic polyester. Other studies have even discovered that synthetic fabrics could cause muscle disruption and fatigue.

Look for Organic, High-Quality Fabrics Instead

Instead of purchasing synthetic fabrics that make grand promises often not backed up by science, wear natural textiles that have been worn since ancient times. Look for cotton, linen, silk, hemp, wool, or cashmere.

The use of organic, raw textiles is superior to synthetic ones. They are naturally strong and require little processing before being worn. These natural fabrics have also been proven to last longer. Try to source these products from reputable sellers who have purchased high-quality organic fabrics.

While there is no governmental regulating agency for clothing, there are reputable certifications in textiles that are a great indicator of a high quality, natural fiber. Sellers like us who only use Okeo-Tex certified products ensure that their products are manufactured to the highest sustainable standards and are tested to prevent the use of harmful chemicals.

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