Tierno had tested underwear, pants, jackets, blouses, and other clothes purchased from chain clothing stores (including both low-end and high-end options). The results have shown that many unsavory compounds are lurking on the “new” clothes, including fecal flora, skin flora, respiratory secretions, and yeast.Of all the tested clothing items, underwear, swimsuits, and other intimate items were the most contaminated. Tierno told ABC News:
“Some garments were grossly contaminated with many organisms … indicating that either many people tried it or … someone tried it on with heavy contamination …In a sense, you are touching somebody’s armpit or groin. So you want to be protected that’s all … You may not come down with anything and, most cases you don’t, but it’s potentially possible.”
Contaminated clothes (or clothes tried on by multiple people) may contain harmful organisms that can cause hepatitis A, norovirus, MRSA, traveler’s diarrhea, yeast infections etc.Sometimes, even lice and scabies could potentially be transmitted by trying on clothes, especially if you have a weak immune system. Tierno told The Huffington Post:
“The good thing is that most people have a very robust immune system, so they can usually fight off the small number of organisms they may get on their body … The fact that you come into contact with one doesn’t mean you’re going to get sick.”
New clothes may also contain numerous potentially dangerous chemicals. Among these chemicals are azo-aniline dyes, which are known to cause skin reactions ranging from mild to severe.
If you have sensitive skin, these types of dyes may leave your skin dry, itchy, and red, especially where the fabric rubs on your skin, such as at your thighs, armpits, neck, and waist. These irritants can be washed out in most cases, but you may need multiple washings to do so.
Formaldehyde resins are also used in clothing items to reduce wrinkling and mildew. Formaldehyde is not only a well-known carcinogen, but the resins have also been associated with increased risk of eczema and skin rashes.
Another harmful chemical that can be found on new clothes is Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE). This is a toxic endocrine-disrupting surfactant that is used to manufacture clothing.
Your Clothes May Contain Some Harmful Chemicals Even After Washing!
Unfortunately for all of us, washing won’t remove all the chemicals in our clothes. For example, the antimicrobial triclosan is sometimes added to fabrics, including clothing items. Some recent studies have shown that triclosan can alter the regulation of hormones and may interfere with fetal development. In addition to this, there are also animal studies which suggest that triclosan may affect fertility.
Furthermore, stain-proof clothes are also full of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which are both toxic to humans and the environment.
If the clothes you bought is not organic, it is very likely that it has been manufactured from genetically engineered (GE) cotton that was treated with high amounts of pesticides and other harmful chemicals during the production process. According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA),
“The chemicals used in cotton production don’t end with cultivation. As an aid in harvesting, herbicides are used to defoliate the plants, making picking easier.
Producing a textile from the plants involves more chemicals in the process of bleaching, sizing, dying, straightening, shrink reduction, stain and odor resistance, fireproofing, mothproofing, and static- and wrinkle-reduction.
Some of these chemicals are applied with heat, thus bonding them to the cotton fibers. Several washings are done throughout the process, but some of the softeners and detergents leave a residue that will not totally be removed from the final product.
Chemicals often used for finishing include formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines.
Some imported clothes are now impregnated with long-lasting disinfectants which are very hard to remove, and whose smell gives them away. These and the other chemical residues affect people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.
Also, people have developed allergic reactions, such as hives, to formaldehyde through skin contact with solutions on durable-press clothing containing formaldehyde.”
You may find it hard to believe, but cotton is the world’s dirtiest crop as a result of the heavy use of hazardous herbicides and insecticides by the cotton industry.
According to a report published by the Organic Trade Association:
“Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop.
Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidophos, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production.
All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous.
Aldicarb, cotton’s second best-selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater.”
All these chemicals pose a danger for the farmers who are working with them, for the people who are living nearby, for the consumers who are buying the cotton and for everyone who will eventually be impacted by the ever-growing environmental pollution.
For this reason, we strongly encourage you to choose organic cotton clothing whenever possible.
Tips for Safer Clothing:
-First of all, you should always try to find clothing items that are made from organic cotton.
-You can also look for the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label, which shows that it has been tested by an independent laboratory and doesn’t contain potentially harmful levels of more than 100 substances, such as allergenic dyes, pesticides, phthalates, and heavy metals.
-Finally, most experts agree that you must wash new clothes when you bring them home from the store.