Clothes form an important and basic need of human life; the type and the size of clothing primarily depend upon the geographical conditions, society, and the type of body. With increase in fashion and demand for clothes, the ultimate result is increase in production of them!
But, do you know what clothes are made of?? Generally, textiles are made from animal (wool,silk), plant (cotton,flax,and jute), synthetic (nylon,polyester,acrylic) and mineral (asbestos,glass fibre). But during the making,it has to go through a process which does consist of addition of harmful elements making it dangerous for human body, life and environment.
At face-value of making clothes
Garments and textiles come from all over the universe, and travel down many hands so the manufacturing process and regulations aren’t known by the average shopper. Today, it’s common for numerous pieces of our closet to be made in third world countries – which can be pretty flexible with health code laws. In fact, there are up to 2,000 divergent chemicals in processing some fabrics – many of which are well-known to be the source of cancer.
Contemporary technological elevation in the textile industry includes the evolution of textiles that are smarter, stronger and cutting-edge. “Cosmeto-textile” products (Hibbert, 2004), created through sub-micron nano-engineering and genetic manipulation can automatically counter temperature alterations, monitor our mood, administer medication, mimic functions and properties from the natural world and allegedly oblige with our well-being, but this leads to a question, how “healthy” are these textiles, and what of traditional textiles, such as cotton? Is there such a thing as a healthy fabric which does not have an impact either on the environment or humankind?
For over half a century, peeps have been responding negatively to chemicals interfacing with their skin causing disorders like infertility, respiratory diseases, contact dermatitis, skin rashes, headache, trouble concentrating, nausea, diarrhoea, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, irregular heart-beat, seizures and even cancer; the more synthetic clothing you don, the greater your menace of captivating toxic chemicals that can precipitate health conditions most often not imputing to synthetic fibers. Chemical finishes are often applied to a garment to give it various properties, such as shrink resistance, crease resistance, odour resistance, water-impermeable, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-static, permanent-press, softening agents, easy care treatments or flame and soil retardants, adding a further mixture of potentially harmful chemicals to the cocktail.
Your skin is the colossal organ of expulsion and absorption;what goes ON the skin goes IN the body; when toxins are ingested through your skin, they are consumed by the lymphatic system, then into the blood stream and eventually the liver, the chemical-processing plant of the body responsible for removing toxins.
Alkylphenol compounds include nonylphenols (NPs) and octylphenols and their ethoxylates, particularly nonylphenol ethoxylates. NPs are extensively used in the textiles industry in cleaning and dyeing procedures. They are toxic to aquatic life, stay in the environment and can gather in body tissue and biomagnify (increase in concentration through the food chain). Their correspondence to natural oestrogen hormones can distort sexual development in some organisms, most notably causing the feminisation of fish.
Phthalates are a set of chemicals most frequently used to soften PVC (the plastic polyvinyl chloride). In the textile industry they are used in artificial leather, rubber and PVC and in some dyes. There are considerable concern elements about the toxicity of phthalates such as DEHP (Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate), which is reprotoxic in mammals, as it can interfere with development of the testes in premature life.
The phthalates named, DEHP and DBP (Dibutyl phthalate) are classified as ‘toxic to reproduction’ in Europe and their use is restricted.
Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants
Most of the brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are persistent, and the bioaccumulative chemicals that are now present throughout the environment. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are among the most popularcommon groups of BFRs and have been used to fireproof a wide variety of materials, including textiles.
Few PBDEs are competent of mixing with the hormone systems involving the growth and sexual development. Under a law the use of some types of PBDE is tightly restricted and one PBDE has been listed as a ‘priority hazardous substance’ under European water law, which requires measures be taken to eliminate the pollution caused by BFRs on surface waters.
Azo dyes are one of the main classifications of dye used by the textile industry. However, some of these dyes break down during the use and release chemicals known as aromatic amines, some of which can cause cancer.
Organotin compounds are used in biocides and as antifungal agents in a range of consumer products. Within the textile industry they are being used in materials such as socks, shoes and sport clothes to avert odour caused by the breakdown of sweat.
One of the best-known organotin compounds is tributyltin (TBT). One of its primary uses was in antifouling,shipping painting, until evidence surfaced that it persists in the environment, builds up in the body and can have negative impact on immune and reproductive systems. Its use as an antifouling paint is now largely banned. TBT has also been used in textiles.
Chlorobenzenes are persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals that have been used as solvents and biocides, in the production of dyes and as chemical intermediaries. The effects of exposure rely on the kind of chlorobenzene; however, they commonly affect the liver, thyroid and central nervous system. Hexachlorobenzene (HCB), the most toxic and persistent chemical of this group, is also a hormone disruptor.
They are also recorded as ‘persistent organic pollutants’ for global restriction under the Stockholm Convention, and in line with this, they are programmed for depletion and eventual elimination in Europe.
Chlorinated solvents – such as trichloroethane (TCE) – are used by textile manufacturers to diffuse other substances during manufacturing and to immaculate fabrics.
Heavy metals: cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium (VI)
Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury, are being used in certain dyes and pigments used for textiles. These metals can cumulate in the body over time and are highly toxic, with irreversible effects including harm to the nervous system (lead and mercury) or the kidneys (cadmium). Cadmium is also known to cause cancer. Uses of chromium (VI), included in certain textile processes and leather tanning is highly toxic even at low concentrations, having negative impact to many aquatic organisms.
TCE is an ozone-depleting substance that can linger in the environment. It is also known to strike the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.
Chlorophenols are a sort of chemicals used as biocides in anextensive range of applications, from pesticides to wood preservatives and textiles.Pentachlorophenol (PCP) and its sub-divisions are used as biocides in the textile industry. PCP is extremely toxic to humans and can influence many organs in the body. It is also highly toxic to aquatic organisms.
Short-chain chlorinated paraffins
Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)is used in textile industry as flame retardants and finishing agents for leather and textiles. They are extremelypoisonous to aquatic organisms, do not readily break down in the environment and have a high potential to cumulate in living organisms.
If you clean with common supermarket toxic detergents, then move to natural detergents. It will take a few washings to separate the residual toxic detergent ingredients completely.
Read clothing labels and strive to elude synthetic materials such as Rayon, Nylon, Polyester, Acrylic, Acetate or Triacetate as much as possible. Also evade no-iron, wrinkle free and preshrunk items. Basically, try to use 100% pure cotton or hemp clothing if you see any.
Wash and dry clothes comprising synthetic matter three times before wearing. Some folks add baking soda (not baking powder) to aid neutralization of new clothing chemicals while using natural detergents, of course. Also, spurn those dryer sheets that avert clinging unless you can find them without virulent chemicals.
Do not use dry cleaners that use perchloroethylene, commonly known as PERC. There are even some that don’t. Find them or forget dry cleaning. Even used clothing purchased from thrift stores may be spattered with some chemical before they’re put up for sale. Wash and dry them at least once.
Thus, we can conclude that clothes, that we do not consider as an important parameter of health is actually a primary need of health concern making it safe for HUMAN and OTHER LIVING CREATURES present in environment, thereby going GREEN.