“This is a nightmare for parents everywhere looking to buy clothes for their children that don’t contain hazardous chemicals,” says Chih An Lee, detox campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, says in a statement. These chemical ‘little monsters’ can be found in everything from exclusive luxury designs to budget fashion, polluting our waterways from Beijing to Berlin. For the sake of current and future generations brands should stop using these monsters.”
Every brand tested was found to have products containing hazardous substances.
Greenpeace purchased a total of 82 children’s textile products between May and June 2013 in 25 regions worldwide from flagship stores or other authorized retailers. It then shipped the items to Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, where they were dispatched to independent accredited laboratories.
The results were alarming, to say the least.
Every brand tested was found to have products containing hazardous substances. An Adidas swimsuit, for instance, contained higher levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a persistent hormone-disruptor used to produce Teflon and other chemicals, than permitted in its own Restricted Substance List. A baby onesie from American Apparel sold in the United States contained 0.6 percent phthalates, a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals used to increase the plasticity of a material, while the printed fabric on a Primark children’s T-shirt sold in Germany contained 11 percent phthalates. (Both levels exceeded those permitted in certain toys and childcare products sold in the European Union.)
Meanwhile, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which are used as surfactants in textile production and subsequently break down to form the toxic endocrine disruptor nonphenol, were detected in at least one article from each brand, with significantly high concentrations (above 1,000 milligrams per kilogram) in products by American Apparel, C&A, and Disney. Burberry wasn’t far behind with a level of 780 mg/kg in one product.
Greenpeace is urging the Chinese government to stem the tide of hazardous chemicals by publishing and acting upon a chemical blacklist.
Antimony, a semimetallic element that shares many chemical and toxicity characteristics with arsenic, was found in all 36 articles that included fabrics composed of polyester or a blend of polyester and other fibers.
Since China remains the world’s largest producer of textiles—not to mention consumer of chemicals—Greenpeace is urging the government to stem the tide of hazardous chemicals by publishing and acting upon a chemical blacklist.
“Parents, fashion fans, and local communities can help end this toxic nightmare by speaking out against polluting brands,” An Lee says. “Thanks to global people power, some of the world’s biggest brands have already committed to Detox and many of them are already walking the talk towards supply-chain transparency and the elimination of the worst chemicals.”