Have you ever wondered about sustainability, advantages and toxicity of the huge amounts of fabrics?
Let’s talk about fabrics and introduce us to the six most toxic textiles in the world:
Probably the most popular and the most used from all the synthetic fabrics. If you check labels of clothing, you have at home you might be surprised by how many pieces are made of polyester. This textile is Petroleum based (using millions of barrels of oil every year). It is often added as a blend to the natural fabric which makes it even harder for us to avoid. Harmful toxins are disposed in the water during production and the air is being polluted. Polyester can cause many different health issues, so your body is exposed to the danger of potential skin irritation as itching, redness or rashes. Different existing studies link plastic as a possible contributor to breast cancer.
It is petroleum based and made of a chemical which is labeled a carcinogen and a mutagen. Fibres are highly flammable, so the production process has to be monitored carefully as there is a danger of explosion. It is considered as a wool replacement; however, it becomes really hard for our skin to breath under acrylic fabric. As the body temperature rises it helps to release the chemicals that are absorbed by our skin afterwards. Again, it can cause skin rashes, headaches, nausea, limb weakness, kidney problems and breathing difficulties.
The last synthetic fabric that we would like to mention and to advise you to try to stay away from is Nylon, which is usually made out of petroleum and heavily chemically treated. This is the go-to material for making nylons, underwear and socks, we all own. It doesn’t absorb sweat from the skin and can cause a variety of skin allergies, headaches, dizziness and system dysfunctions.
Try to remember that anything which is resistant, stain-proof, flame resistant wrinkle-free, waterproof -- basically all the fabrics that are meant to make your life easier -- are treated with toxic chemicals that are better to be avoided.
NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT TWO MORE FIBRES THAT MIGHT SEEM LIKE A NATURAL AND WAY BETTER ALTERNATIVE THAN THE ONES MADE OF PLASTIC
But in the matter of fact, and that might make them even more dangerous as many people think that they are eco-friendly, it is quite the opposite!
RAYON, also known as VISCOSE
This fibre is made from cellulose that is chemically converted from wood pulp. It seems to be a better alternative to petroleum-based synthetics, but it is not. What happens is that the fibre is made of trees, that in its natural habitat are far away from offering a soft and silky fabric as we know it. So that is the moment when the chemical and mechanical process come to play. Workers in the factories that are exposed to these chemicals are at high risk of hysteria, stroke and nerve damage. If those chemicals are disposed into the water it does not only affect the eco-system but the whole community can be poisoned. Your clothes are full of these toxins so when they are absorbed by your skin it can cause nausea, headaches, vomiting and insomnia. Not such a good alternative anymore, isn't it? Well there is one more thing we all should keep in mind while buying something new: Rayon is a big contributor to deforestation all around the world and it is incredibly uneconomical. Imagine you might actually wear a t-shirt made of trees from an endangered rainforest -- insane, right?
What is Neoprene (Chloroprene)? Chloroprene (aka branded 'Neoprene') is the common name for the organic compound 2-chlorobuta-1,3-diene. This colourless liquid is the monomer for the production of the polymer polychloroprene, a type of synthetic rubber. Neoprene can be manufactured in two ways. Firstly, there is oil-based neoprene, created by a vast amount of oil drilling and transportation. Secondly, there is limestone-based neoprene, which involves mining to great depths. Both are non-renewable and have significant and long term detrimental effects on the earth. As such, these wetsuits cannot be deemed environmentally friendly. Chloroprene is ‘not readioy biodegradable’ and has a low bio- or geoaccumulation potential. The potential for the release of chlorophene to the environment exists during its manufacture, transport, and storage, as for example the manufacture of polychlorphene elastomers (eg ‘Neoprene’) or polychlorphene-containing products.
NEOPRENE & HEALTH – SOURCES AND POTENTIAL EXPOSURE
Humans may be occupationally exposed to chloroprene by inhalation or due to dermal exposure.
Symptoms reported from acute human exposure to high concentrations of chloroprene include headache, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, respiratory irritation, cardiac palpitations, chest pains, nausea, gastrointestinal disorders, dermatitis, temporary hair loss, conjunctivitis, and corneal necrosis.
An acute exposure may damage liver, kidneys, and lungs. It can affect the circulatory and immune system, depress the central nervous system (CNS), irritate the skin or mucous membranes and cause dermatitis and respiratory difficulties. High-level exposures have affected the liver, lungs, kidneys and CNS in animals exposed by inhalation or injection. Acute oral exposure of rats caused inflammation of the mucous membranes, damage to the lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
CHRONIC EFFECTS (NONCANCER)
Symptoms of chronic exposure in workers were fatigue, chest pains, giddiness, irritability, dermatitis, and hair loss.
One study has suggested that chronic exposure of humans to chloroprene vapour associated with neoprene production may contribute to liver function abnormalities. Disorders of the cardiovascular system and depression of the immune system have also been observed in workers chronically exposed to chloroprene. Eye irritation, nasal discharge, olfactory epithelial degeneration, restlessness, lethargy, hair loss, growth retardation, and effects to the liver, kidney, thyroid, blood, and lungs have been observed in rodents following chronic inhalation exposure.
CHLOROPRENE AND CANCER
EPA has classified chloroprene as a Group D, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity, because of the absence of adequate data.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified chloroprene as a Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic to humans.
The last one might come as a surprise for some people, as you might not expect to read the word cotton in an article about the most toxic fabrics. But we have to mention it.
CONVENTIONALLY PRODUCED COTTON
Cotton represents nearly half of the total fibre used to make clothing and most of it is genetically modified. Confused? Yeah, we can get easily fooled by conventional cotton. High levels of potentially harmful pesticides and toxic chemicals are being used during the farming process, making it one of the agriculture’s most polluting crops. To grow cotton is also incredibly resource intensive as it takes around 2700 litres of water to grow a t-shirt. So even though cotton is natural and biodegradable, it doesn’t mean it is not harmful. It also goes hand-in-hand with human right abuse and social distortion. For example, in countries like Uzbekistan farmers are denied ownership of the land they work on and are forced to work for ridiculously low wages, often with help from children that are being used to help with the harvest every year. We all love cotton, but unless it is organic cotton, we cannot forget the environmental impact of pesticides, chemicals and fertilizers that go into manufacturing the crop.
Microplastic pollution caused by washing processes of synthetic textiles has recently been assessed as the main source of primary microplastics in the oceans. Microfibers are tiny strands of plastic that shed off synthetic fabrics like polyester, rayon and nylon. Scientists have discovered that they are one of the main causes of plastic pollution in the oceans. By washing processes of cotton the pesticides contaminate soil and water and create health problems for humans and animals.
The words "eco" or "green" are constantly being strained. For most manufacturers, they merely serve as a sales aid. But it has to be seen realistically: Every production generates waste and pollutes the environment. It is well known that the entire economic system is based on this principle. Unfortunately, it is not an infinite world, but hardly any economist will say this clearly. Instead, it says: Consume! But we must get away from a system based exclusively on consumption and destruction of natural resources. Even if it sounds delicate from an economic point of view.
Just be kinder to yourself and to the environment. Always read the labels as the clothing companies are required to disclose the materials in their products.
Slow fashion stands for sustainable and conscious fashion. The term describes a change towards more responsibility and respect for people and the environment, as well as a different awareness towards products, their origins and our own consumption behavior.
Slow fashion means slowing down – to the benefit of environmentally friendly manufacturing and selection of raw materials, of sustainable production, of fair trade, of the conscious use and durability of clothing.
WHAT DOES MERMAID PROTECTOR HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS?