What if you found out that some of the most post popular clothing brands in the US contain harmful chemicals? According to a Greenpeace report released six weeks ago, deemed “Dirty Laundry”, a year-long study linked many Global clothing brands to suppliers in China who were releasing a cocktail of chemicals into the Pearl and Yangtze River deltas. Yesterday, GreenPeace released another report, “Dirty Laundry 2”, which has revealed startling results. Many popular brands are indeed selling clothing that contain harmful chemicals, and are directly contributing to toxic pollution of the environment and waterways wherever they’re sold.
According to the latest research released by GreenPeace, a toxic hormone-disrupting chemical is still currently detected in many clothes and fabric-based shoes that are sold globally. The investigation involved the analysis of 78 articles of sports and recreational clothing and shoes bearing the logos of 15 popular clothing brands including Abercombie & Fitch, Adidas, Calvin Klein2, Converse, GAP, G-Star RAW, H&M, Kappa, Lacoste, Li Ning, Nike, Puma, Ralph Lauren, Uniqlo and Youngor.
“Our research shows that global clothing brands are responsible for the discharge of hazardous chemicals into waterways in China and across the world, as part of their manufacturing processes,” said Yifang Li, Toxic Water Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. Here are the results:
- Abercrombie & Fitch: 3 positive results, out of 3 samples tested
- Adidas: 4 out of 9
- Calvin Klein: 3 out of 4
- Converse: 5 out of 6
- Gap: 0 out of 2
- H&M: 4 out of 6
- Lacoste: 1 out of 4
- Nike: 5 out of 10
- Puma: 7 out of 9
- Ralph Lauren: 3 out of 4
A startling two thirds of the articles tested positive for nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE’S), which breaks down to form toxic nonylphenol (NP). When you wash your clothes, the chemical is released into our water systems. Nonylphenol interferes with hormone systems of organisms. The most widely recognized hazard is the ability to mimic natural oestrogen hormones, which can lead to altered sexual development in some organisms, most notably the feminization of fish. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “Exposure to NP in high concentrations is extremely destructive to the upper respiratory tract, eyes, and skin. A specific health concern arising from NP’s estrogenic properties is the potential increased risk for breast cancer.”
The levels of NP currently found in articles are not known to cause direct health risks to those who wear the clothing, however the environmental impact the chemical contamination makes is a concern for everyone. It’s important that we recognize the damages caused by these chemicals, and push the brands to enforce public policies restricting the presence of the hazardous substance in their products. After Greenpeace released its previous study in July, Puma and Nike both committed to zero NPEs by 2020. Greenpeace is currently pushing Adidas to make the same pledge. Let’s hope that all manufacturers will make changes and eliminate toxic pollution through textile manufacturing.
Additional Sources: http://notaguineapig.org/2011/03/23/nonylphenols-and-nonylphenol-ethoxylates/