ONTD Political

Report finds clothing contaminated with hormone disrupting chemicals

5:10 pm - 11/24/2012
Lots of people worry about their clothing. But they probably don't worry about whether it's toxic. Greenpeace International's newest research indicates that you probably should.

Greenpeace tested 141 items of clothing from 29 countries, and found that 89 contained nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which are toxic, bioaccumulative chemicals that have been identified as hormone disruptors. They also found high levels of phthalates in four pieces of clothing, and amines from azo dyes that have been identified as carcinogens.
The clothing came from major international brands, including Armani, Levi's and Zara. This was a follow up to an August 2011 report that found similarly distressing chemicals in clothing.

I read the report yesterday while wearing a Zara shirt and Levi's jeans. So yeah, not very reassuring.

Other brands Greenpeace IDed as including harmful chemicals: Benetton, Diesel, Esprit, Gap, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Mango, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. See the full "Toxic Threads" report here.

source: Mother Jones

PDF of Greenpeace report has more detailed information, including methodology and raw data and pictures of the specific items tested
for those that can't read PDFs, yes, if you primarily buy used clothing, the repeated washings does mean your personal exposure will be much lower but you still have the environmental impact from all that washing. report was for ADULT clothing only. Children's clothes have specific standards about pthalates. the other things... not so much
rkt 24th-Nov-2012 10:21 pm (UTC)
alternating b/t going back to buying exclusively children's tops and feeling squicked beyond at thoughts regarding undergarments.
callmetothejedi 24th-Nov-2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
D: and O_O
pamuya 24th-Nov-2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
oh damn, the jeans i wear daily are tommy hillfiger


the_physicist 25th-Nov-2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
From the Greenpeace report:

" The levels of NPEs detected in all articles are not known to constitute any direct health risk to the wearers of the clothing "

It also says earlier in the report that another study from a different UK research group found these chemicals are all washed out completely after maximum of two washes.

BUT the big issue is this stuff ends up contaminating our rivers. You aren't eating your clothing, but wildlife will drink the water and I guess in some countries humans could drink the contaminated water too. I work with those cancer causing chemical they are worried about and they can be absorbed through the skin, but... not so easily in low dosages. Really, high dosages would be needed for wearing the clothes to be worse than walking around in city air and compared to the dangers of eating veggies sprayed with pesticides? Negligible unless you are a worker in the textiles factories. I would be worried if they all have adequate protections and they have doctors there to check for the skin lesions that can be a tell-tale sign of local amine toxicity from skin adsorption.
angi_is_altered 24th-Nov-2012 10:45 pm (UTC)
Makes me think of a early House episode were these boys were really sick and it turned out to be their jeans had been poisoned.
rinygrin 25th-Nov-2012 07:29 am (UTC)
omg i remember that episode
thelilyqueen 24th-Nov-2012 10:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this and including the report. I have a hard science background, so I always want to see the data or at least a summary of it. Dose and mode of exposure matter in toxicology. A lot.
fenris_lorsrai 24th-Nov-2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they primarily seem to be looking at just the amount in the articles of clothing themselves and how people use them is going to hugely effect if and how its absorbed.

a report on underwear would probably make us all shriek in horror.
keeperofthekeys 24th-Nov-2012 11:46 pm (UTC)
Dose and mode of exposure matter in toxicology.

mte while I was reading this.
sihaya09 24th-Nov-2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
Oh lord, is there ANYTHING that's not cancerous anymore?
seishin 24th-Nov-2012 11:46 pm (UTC)
No. D:
bowtomecha 25th-Nov-2012 02:26 am (UTC)
naked mole rats? heh.
fenris_lorsrai 25th-Nov-2012 07:09 am (UTC)

and so am I.

Naked mole rats are awesome.
ohloverx 25th-Nov-2012 04:16 am (UTC)
Seriously. And with each new report on different things that cause cancer, you sort of come to realize that it truly is a losing battle as you can't keep yourself fully from exposure. You can impose some limits, but in the end you basically have to hope for the best. Sad, really.
jettakd 24th-Nov-2012 11:17 pm (UTC)
Shit I wear Mango O.o
maynardsong 24th-Nov-2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
And that is why I always wash the clothes I buy before wearing them.
amber_protocol 24th-Nov-2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
So do I, I always thought you were supposed to anyway.
mollywobbles867 24th-Nov-2012 11:40 pm (UTC)
Me too because who knows how many people have tried them on?
cuterabbit33 24th-Nov-2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
I do believe my icon sums up my thoughts perfectly.
mollywobbles867 24th-Nov-2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
I don't wear any of those brands. I used to wear Levi Strauss when I was smaller, but not anymore. Jeans-wise I either wear Faded Glory or Maurices. Actually, most of my clothes are those brands. Though, the jeans I'm wearing now smelled something awful until I had washed them three times; they're from Maurices. I also wear clothes from SimplyBe/Joe Brown.

Edited at 2012-11-24 11:44 pm (UTC)
redqueenofevil 25th-Nov-2012 12:19 am (UTC)
I don't wear the majority of these brands, but I worry my brands are going to be just as toxic. Still, I have lots of friends who are diehard fans of many of the brands listed on the PDF.
coraki 25th-Nov-2012 01:34 am (UTC)
I'm now curious about bed linen and towels. :o
suwiel 25th-Nov-2012 03:55 am (UTC)
Now that I've read your comment, I am too.
tabaqui 25th-Nov-2012 01:43 am (UTC)
So the PDF wasn't loading for me - my issue, not the PDF, i'll try later - but does it say anywhere how much/if any washing will leech these toxins out? I don't war any of the brands, but we do clothing swaps with family/friends who do, and i really don't want my daughter wearing toxic clothes.

(Everything's used, though, and has been washed dozens of times....)

I always wash new clothes before i let anyone wear them, as they always reek horribly of chemicals, plus i'm paranoid about them having been tried on by half a dozen people.
fenris_lorsrai 25th-Nov-2012 02:57 am (UTC)
Yes, it does leech out. While the article and comments are focusing on the "OMG, I AM WEARING IT" they PDF focuses more on the impact of consumer washing. The manufacturing plants at least have SOME pollution controls on them in most places... residential water customers, not really. so washes out and gets dumped into water supply with little if any chance of it being removed.
mirhanda 25th-Nov-2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
Don't modern, first world countries have sewage treatment plants these days? I know all of the "used water" from our house goes to the sewage treatment plant where it's treated in a lot of different ways and purified before it's released. Of course that wouldn't be the case for country people on a septic system, but most people live in cities these days, don't they?
fenris_lorsrai 25th-Nov-2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, the water is treated... for specific agents. So some treatment plants will treat for this as they're targetting some other agent. some won't.

For example, people piss out an enormous amount of birth control. the compounds in that are NOT normally treated, so everyone downstream gets low doses of hormones in their water. ditto animals that swim in it.

another example, toxoplasmosis is often present in cat feces. So people flush cat litter and introduce it to water supply. most systems don't have proper screens to remove toxo. so it passes downstream... Toxo transmitted from cat feces is a major threat to sea otters.

so its a crap shoot based on type of water treatment available. Bacteria is sewage treatment plants primary concern. the rest... depends on how much money the city was willing to invest in infrastructure...
girly123 25th-Nov-2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
Jfc I never want to drink water again. :/

Do you think getting a filter would help, or is that only really effective against heavy metals?
the_physicist 25th-Nov-2012 11:32 pm (UTC)
you mean because of the hormones? check where your own tap water is even coming from. if it's ground water, for example, you don't need to worry. only if it's river water (so that's mostly urban water supplies). BUT... tap water is treated in many ways and generally when it comes to tap water we really are talking trace amounts. also talking about trace amounts of many other pharamceuticals and industrial waste products in urban tap water (where I live is... rather urban. a glass of my tap water has been drunk on average 7 times.)

however, it's not clear if such small amounts would have any effect on people. so far it doesn't really seem to be the case as far as anyone can tell, it's all just too little. but it is really a different matter for wildlife in many rivers, there effects seem to be rather visible, because tap water is much more well treated in many areas that the water just treated for waste that then goes into the rivers.

edit: google came up with this article on the topic of trying to filter your drinking water yourself.

Edited at 2012-11-26 12:01 am (UTC)
bowtomecha 25th-Nov-2012 02:27 am (UTC)
I didn't know Greenpeace did this sort of thing.
layweed 25th-Nov-2012 04:09 am (UTC)
Me neither. Kinda makes me want to look into career possibilities because I've been thinking about scientific non-profits, but ughh Idk I can't stand Greenpeace sometimes.
bowtomecha 25th-Nov-2012 06:01 am (UTC)
There's always PETA. Heh.
romp 25th-Nov-2012 04:43 am (UTC)
Are hormones disruptors the same as endocrine disruptors? Is this something related to plastic? (I can't open PDFs)

We do make things without fully understanding what we're doing long-term. The scientists in Plastic Planet who were freaked out by what we're creating said it all.
the_physicist 25th-Nov-2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
Related to plastics in so far that plastics fall under the organic side of chemistry so some plastics contain amine units or degrade to release amine units (the chemicals mentioned in this report, it's when they degrade, then they release amine unit containing substances). And the impact on the environment is understood. It isn't ignorance and people not knowing in this case, it's no one giving a shit. Legislation is needed in these cases or nothing will change, as for most environmental issues.

Edited at 2012-11-25 12:58 pm (UTC)
romp 25th-Nov-2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
I meant "we" as humans and we do create and use without knowing the longterm effects. Scientists know more now but they can't know at the beginning. And I don't think most people do know because I still see my coworkers microwaving in plastic.

I agree re legislation. I don't know if politicians understand the situation or not--I imagine some do and some don't. The plastics industry's lobbyists probably can afford to get out more than those calling for regulation.

If you watch Plastic Planet, you'll see all these cheap soft plastics which are officially banned in the US but still sold at every dollar store. :(
the_physicist 25th-Nov-2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't mean most people know, I did mean industry/scientists etc.

If the US is anything like the UK I don't think the politicians understand anything at all with regards to that kind of thing. They couldn't understand a scientific report if their life depended upon it as in the UK they are all scientifically illiterate. So because they cannot understand the evidence presented they think it's a matter of opinion and feeling. They ignore their scientific advisers unless it fits in which something that they think will make them more popular or cool or what not. *sigh*

I think what's important is that regulations are enforced where they exist and tightened where they don't but should. It's very hard to get scientifically illiterate political circles to legislate on something in a meaningful way, rather than reacting out of proportion to 'media scares' and then completely ignoring real issue the media might not have picked up on, because they didn't feel the population need to be scared about XYZ right now >_>

*is cynical*
shadadukal 25th-Nov-2012 09:35 am (UTC)
Holy cow, I wear several of those brands, mostly Esprit. And France one of the worst countries too.

I always wash new clothes before wearing them, even those I buy online.

But this is scary. I buy organic clothing on occasion but it's a) very expensive and b) there aren't many choices.
the_physicist 25th-Nov-2012 12:50 pm (UTC)
I'm not planning on eating my clothes, thankfully.

It's encouraging that the report mentions they are trying to regulate this, because I'm more worried about this stuff for its environmental impact.
fluffydragon 25th-Nov-2012 02:27 pm (UTC)
I wear A LOT of victoria secret :(
mirhanda 25th-Nov-2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
I'd bet all the clothes have these same chemicals. Don't all clothes come from the same sweatshop in China regardless of brand these days?
thepuddingcook 25th-Nov-2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
I am always so picky about washing the crap out of my daughter's clothes before she wears them...and it's me who should be worrying. Ha.
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