Not that long ago, people wore natural fibers like wool, cashmere, cotton, silk, linen, and hemp.
Now, with the help of technology Synthetic fabrics like rayon, polyester, acrylic, acetate and nylon are worn by many of us as they seem to make our lives simpler, like wrinkle-free or stain resistant, but at what cost? Fabric may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about living a healthier lifestyle, but it definitely should be considered. Read on for more info on the dangers of synthetic fabrics.
You may know that the traditional dress of the women in the Middle East – the ABAYA is mainly made of synthetic fabric, like polyester. Polyester fabric is made from chemically produced fibers. The chemicals used to make the fibers are sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide, which are derived from coal, oil, or natural gas. Polyester factories are responsible for massive amounts of air pollution and water pollution, and may cause human health problems.
Polyester doesn’t breathe like natural textiles. This is the worst choice if you live in warm climates. The heaviest weaves are extremely dense. Without the inclusions of natural threads, there’s literally no ventilation in the garment.
Chemically treated fabrics are a source of toxins that adversely affect your health and the planet. They commonly contain toxins like formaldehyde, brominated flame-retardants, and perfluorinated chemicals like Teflon fibers to make the apparel wrinkle free. In simple words perfluorinated compounds are classified as cancer-causing agents under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
Synthetic fabrics are often non-biodegradable, meaning that when discarded, they do not break down in the soil, and the chemicals used in their manufacture can leach out into the environment.
“Killer Clothes! How Seemingly Innocent Clothing Choices Endanger Your Health and How to Protect Yourself” reveals in unprecedented detail the surprising number of harmful effects on health caused by garments once considered safe.
Co-authors Dr. Brian Clement and Dr. Anna Maria Clement are co-directors of the internationally renowned Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) in West Palm Beach, Florida. These two physicians created wellness and disease prevention programs followed by more than 300,000 people who have attended HHI, as well as millions more worldwide who employ the institute’s teachings.
Here are some points discussed in the book “Killer Clothes”:
- Your skin is the largest organ of elimination and absorption—what goes ON the skin goes IN the body;
- Synthetic fibers are such a burn hazard that the U.S. military prohibits troops from wearing them off base;
- Man-made fibers in sportswear can reduce an athlete’s competitive edge;
- Close-fitting synthetic underwear can contribute to infertility in men;
To avoid any such dangers of synthetic fabric effects on yourself:
- In future buy natural fiber clothing, especially for your children and babies. Good options are cotton, flax, hemp, silk, wool and linen; Less common natural fiber options include alpaca, angora, camel, cashmere, mohair, ramie and saluyot;
- Try and buy only organic clothing when possible, certainly organic undergarments, since the reproductive organs are among the areas most sensitive to toxins;
- Avoid “Easy Care” and flame-retardant clothing;
- Start getting rid of synthetic clothing you’ve accumulated (up-cycle, reuse, recycle or donate them).
Dr. Gloria Gilbère a doctor of natural health, member of American Academy of Environmental Medicine and American Naturopathic Medical Association, shares the following with us:
Which Fabric Finishes “Scream” Toxic Chemicals?
- Easy Care—Wrinkle-free, shrinkage-free—these garments release formaldehyde;
- Water Repellent—Fluoropolymers (as in Teflon) are used to repel oil and water;
- Flame Retardants;
- Bacterial and Fungicidal Chemicals—Triclosan and nano-particles are used for these purposes, dangerous neurotoxins and irritants.
Fabrics containing Formaldehyde—linked to a 30 percent increase in lung cancer, skin/lung irritation and contact dermatitis. These would be clothes with the following qualities:
- Anti-cling, anti-static, anti-shrink
- Moth-proof and mildew resistant
- Chlorine resistant
“The use of man-made chemicals is increasing, and at the same time we have warning signals that a variety of wildlife and human health problems are becoming more prevalent,” says Dr. Richard Dixon, Head of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Scotland. “It is reckless to suggest there is no link between the two and give chemicals the benefit of the doubt. Urgent action is needed to replace hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives especially in clothing and other consumer products.”
Stay safe, wear safe fashion.