As we get out in the crowds or go online to holiday shop, headlines and product reviews have raised concerns about some of the possibly dangerous forever chemicals found in the fabrics used to make a lot of the popular clothing we buy every day.
"I just found out there are forever chemicals in our leggings. I wear leggings every single day!" said one shopper.
Chemicals like bisphenol a, also known as BPA - along with PFAs, or forever chemicals as they are known - have been found in many clothing items like leggings, sports bras, workout shirts, and even in airline uniforms.
These chemicals have been linked to a handful of health issues, like endocrine disorders and kidney disease. Some of the most talked about reports have come from the center for environmental health, a non-profit organization that sends legal notices to brands they say "after testing showed the clothing could expose individuals to up to 40 times the safe limit of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), according to California law."
Many of the brands named in the accusations have pushed back on CEH's claims. These are brands like Athleta, which according to Forbes, said in a statement, "as a certified B-Corp, Athleta is deeply committed to ensuring all our products are made to applicable safety standards. We believe the CEH claims have no merit and stand by our products and practices."
"So there's a lot of things that they put in clothing that they don't necessarily tell you about. But it's really important as a consumer to be aware of this," said Leah Segedie, founder of watchdog group MamaVation.com.
The site conducts consumer investigations on products to determine if they have toxins like PFAs.
According to Segedie, her website uses "several EPA-Certified labs to help ... find indications of these chemicals and report on those findings."
She says her organization's "scientific and medical advisory team helps ... translate the science behind the findings, while ... supply chain advisers help ... make sense of the data," the website reads.
"Your sweat increases the ability for these chemicals to be pulled out of your clothing and into your body," she said. "We don't know a lot about how you're going to be exposed individually, brand to brand. It's just something to be generally aware of."
So now, many consumers may be wondering what they should consider to cut down on any potential exposure to chemicals in clothing.
"So ultimately the answer is less is more. With fast fashion the way it is. You really don't need 20 pairs of jeans. You know? You're only going to wear 2 or 3 of them. You've got 20 pairs. You've got all these that you don't need. Just buy less. I'm telling you to buy less," she said.
Segedie said there are lots of product reviews and studies available to help consumers decide which chemical free clothing to purchase, to limit any potential exposure. She says that smelling the clothing can also help to determine where the chemicals are.
"When you buy clothing items and they have a smell about them, that is not good. So you want to make sure that when you buy the clothing, you take a smell of it ... if it smells funny, you may want to let it off gas a little bit in the garage or wash it a bunch so that the smell disappears," she said. "The other thing I would concentrate on is looking for a lot of organic wool and organic cotton."
She says it's very hard to avoid all harmful chemicals.
"We can't live in a world right now without petroleum. It's everywhere. It's unavoidable. And honestly, to avoid it makes you kind of crazy. So I wouldn't say to go 100%, because that's impossible. Nobody can do that. But just be mindful of it," she said.
Experts say limiting exposure really goes hand-in-hand with limiting purchases of new items, which could also help you declutter and reduce spending.
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