Every parent wants the best for their children. There is enough to worry about in a busy parent’s life and learning about the toxins used in the little one’s clothing must come as a major shock! According to new research, a wide range of harmful chemicals is being used in the making of kid’s clothing. Even the most renowned brands also produce kids' wear made of such chemicals.
Although the risk to children is acute as the chemical concentrations used in making clothes is minimal, the major drawback lies when these hazardous chemicals are released into the ecosystem where it can severely harm wildlife.
The report tested for 6 main harmful chemicals that are used immensely in the textile industry for kids' wear. Here is a list of these chemicals and how they are used and what risks they hold for humans.
3. Organotin Compounds
4. Nonylphenol Ethoxylates
5. Heavy Metals
6. Perfluorinated Chemicals
These are a group of chemicals that are mostly used to increase the flexibility and durability of plastics. They are highly used in the making of dyes, rubber, PVC, and artificial leather in almost all the textile industries. According to a survey, these chemicals are abundantly used in the plastisol printings such as in t-shirts that have large images printed in front.
The chemicals tend to disrupt the hormone levels in animals and the endocrine system in humans. It is also a major cause for disrupting fertility, develop birth defects, and also breast cancer in humans.
Although these chemical groups are biodegradable in the environment, organisms that are highly exposed to such environments, absorb it into their skin.
Antimony is considered fatal to drink or to eat, so you might wonder what’s the matter if it is used in making clothes! Well, during the production process of clothes, antimony is released into the environment. Because of it being inexpensive, it is used in all the textile industries.
Being a carcinogen, antimony is termed toxic to the heart, lungs, and skin. If you are exposed to such environments for long, you may develop chronic bronchitis as well as emphysema.
When asked, the industries refer to antimony as a catalyst used in the production process, it is not a concern to humans in any way. The problem arises when the antimony used in the fabric production gets released into the landfill after being discarded. When the recycling is done, this antimony is released in the form of gas known as antimony trioxide, a carcinogen.
3. Organotin Compounds
Organotins are used in biocides largely in the textile industry. It is also used for its anti-fungal and anti-odor properties in a wide range of products such as shoes, socks, and other sportswear. TBT or tributyltin is a well-known organotin compound that is used in antifouling paints designed specifically for ships.
Evidence proves that these chemicals persist in the ecosystem for a long time and get into the body and affect reproductive and immune systems. Because of its harmful effects, TBT is largely banned worldwide. But it has been used in the textile industry effectively.
Organotin compounds pollute the environment and are dangerous for aquatic animals. These chemicals are toxic even in lower concentrations to water organisms. The only way humans get affected is when they consume seafood. It can disrupt the immune system.
4. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)
These are the man-made chemical compounds that are mainly used in washing clothes after dying. When released into the environment, the chemical degrades to nonylphenol (NP) that are highly toxic, and disrupt hormones.
The degraded chemical compound gets accumulated in several living organisms. The finished fabric products show evidence that they are used in the manufacturing process which explains the chemicals NPEs and NP get released in the wastewater by the industries.
Nonylphenol is released into the water bodies after washing clothes that are highly dangerous to water animals.
5. Heavy Metals
Metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium are termed heavy metals. They are used in the manufacturing of dyes, colors, and pigments in the textile industry. These chemicals are considered highly toxic, if accumulated in the body and can result in irresistible effects like damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and cancer.
Chromium VI is used in the process of leather tanning and is one of the most toxic elements in the textile industry even if used in the lowest concentrations. They possess danger to the aquatic creatures. Mercury, lead, and cadmium have been classified as the most hazardous substances that pollute the waters abundantly.
6. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
These are the man-made chemicals that industries use for non-stick and water repellent properties. Textile industries use these chemicals to make leather and textile products with water and stain-resistant properties.
According to research, most of the Perfluorinated chemicals get absorbed in the environment and persist in the living bodies, and biomagnify with the help of the food chain. There have been cases reported with liver damage and hormone dysfunction, growth defects, and reproductive problems.
One of the main PFCs is Perfluoro octane sulfonate or PFOS which is highly insusceptible to degradation. It stays in the ecosystem for a very long time and is a persistent organic pollutant.
All the toxic chemicals mentioned above have been detected in clothing materials and consumer products. Although after being extremely hazardous and with strict prohibition worldwide, the products are mainly manufactured for children and infants.
For people who are concerned about the direct contact of their kids with these toxic chemicals, it is advised to wash the clothes properly before use. You can also choose organic baby clothes to stay away from any damage to your health.
How to Manage the Problem?
Many companies like RollyPollies are working on an eco-friendly aspect to produce fabrics organically. There is zero use of softeners such as phthalates and the type of emulsifiers used are completely biodegradable.
Choosing Better Alternatives
Organic clothing has been the only alternative that can be trusted as it meets all health standards throughout the manufacturing processes. The industries make sure they use natural fibers that are cultured sustainably and all the methods are eco-friendly.
A garment gets certified as organic once it has been processed through the phases like:
1. What chemicals are used in the fabric coloring process?
2. What methods are used in fixing fabric dyes?
3. What is the procedure for water discarding after the fabric dye process?
One of the simplest ways to avoid using chemical dyes in your baby’s clothing is to look for organic clothing. The clothes you wear are made of synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester that are manufactured from petrochemicals. These chemicals later pollute the environment and are the cause of global warming.
As compared to the non-organic clothing that is loaded with a high percentage of pesticides, organic clothing uses limited use of chemicals. The workers at a non-organic industry are exposed to hazardous chemicals and pesticides that affect their health and also be the cause of death.
The pesticides put a severe impact on the ecosystem you live in and also kill millions of animals and sea creatures yearly causing an imbalance.
Problems of Non-Organic Clothing
• Conventional clothing products account for 25% of the insecticide use worldwide and 20% of pesticides.
• Kids are at higher risks for health problems caused by pesticide contact as compared to adults. Millions of children are exposed to carcinogenic food, household use, drinking water, and pesticide contact by the age of 5.
• One pound of chemical fertilizer and pesticide is needed to grow 3 pounds of cotton required in the making of a shirt and a jeans pair.
All the clothing products that are used in today’s date go through toxic chemical processes, pesticides, and cancer-causing dyes. The only way out is to start using organic clothing and try to make it a lifestyle.
Advantages of Organic Clothing
• Organic clothing refers to a clothing lifestyle with less contact with hazardous chemicals and pesticides. It does not use any harsh toxic chemicals and practices using natural fertilizers.
• The organic farmers practice crop rotation methods to keep up with soil fertility and production.
• Farmers use mechanical cultivation processes to control weeds and pests from damaging the crop.
• The transportation and storage are carried out under strict guidelines to avoid any contamination.
Buying organic garments is helpful in every manner to humans, animals, and the ecosystem too. They are budget-friendly and durable in the long run as well. When you buy organic clothing, you also get the fade-resistant fabric too to withstand machine-wash than most non-organic clothing.