However, the tests done by Philip Tierno, Ph.D director if Microbiology and Immunology at New York University discovered some disturbing compounds that have been lurking on clothes. Moreover, many of the clothes are being contaminated with chemicals and dyes which can lead to irritation and health problems. There is the possibility of lice to be potentially transmitted on new clothes.
Respiratory secretions, feces, vaginal organisms and more
Philip Tierno purchased clothing from chain clothing stores including expensive and inexpensive options. There were a number of unsavory compounds lurking on the pieces like:
- Skin flora;
- Fecal flora;
- Respiratory secretions.
The most heavily contaminated were swimsuits, underwear, and other intimate items. Per Tierno many people tried these pieces, and some even tired them on with heavy contamination. Even though you may not come down with anything, but there is a possibility.
Such organisms may cause:
- Hepatitis A;
- Yeast infections;
- Traveler’s diarrhea;
Scabies and lice can be transmitted when you try clothes in the stores. This is especially dangerous if your immune system is not functioning up to par.
Wash the clothes because they contain chemical contaminants
It depends in which country your clothes have been manufactured, thus the pieces may contain azo-aniline dyes that cause skin reactions ranging from mild to severe. They can leave the sensitive skin red, dry, and itchy, especially on the wrists, neck, armpits, and thighs. It may take multiple washings to wash them out. Manufacturers also use formaldehyde resins in order to cut down on wrinkling and mildew. It is known carcinogen, and is connected to eczema, may also cause the skin become flaky, or erupt in rash. Another chemical used is nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), a toxic endocrine-disrupting surfactant. When consumers wash their clothes, NPEs are released into the local water supplies where wastewater treatment plants are not able to remove them. They further break down into nonylphenol (NP) when enter the environment. NP is a toxic and endocrine-disrupting chemical which accumulates in sediments and builds up in fish and wildlife.
Even after washing, chemicals may lurk in clothing
The antimicrobial triclosan is added to fabrics sometimes and according to researchers it can alter hormone regulation and may interfere with fetal development. Animal studies showed that it can affect fertility, while bacteria which have been exposed to triclosan may become resistant to antibiotics. Increased cancer risk has also been suggested.
A common source of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are stain-proof clothes. This chemical is toxic to people and the environment.
If the clothing is not organic it is probably made from genetically engineered cotton that has been heavily treated with pesticides as well as other chemical production. There are more chemicals involved in the production of the textile like bleaching, sizing, dying, straightening, shrink reduction, stain and odor resistance, wrinkle-reduction, static-reduction, mothproofing, and fireproofing. Even after couple of washings there are residues left like formaldehyde, caustic soda, urea resins, bromines, sulfuric acid, bromines, halogens, and sulfonamides. Some of the imported clothes have long-lasting disinfectants and can be noticed by the smell and such pieces of clothes with affect people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Hives can also be developed.
Conventionally grown cotton is the dirtiest crop in the world
The industry heavily uses hazardous herbicides and insecticides, and thus cotton is considered to be the dirtiest crop in the world. It covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land and uses 16% of the world’s insecticides. This is more than any other single crop. The top ten most commonly used hazardous insecticides in cotton production are aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho. If one drop of aldicarb is absorbed through the skin it can kill a man, but it is still being used in 25 countries and the US. For this reason you have to buy clothing made from organic cotton.
Tips for safer clothing
Look for organic cotton, OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label that shows it has been tested by an independent lab and is free of harmful levels of more than 100 substances like:
- Heavy metals;
- Azo dyes;
- Allergenic dyes;
Also, experts recommend washing clothes after their purchase, maybe even 2 times. If it cannot be machine washed then take it to a hot dryer before you wear it. Moreover, keep on some clothes at the store when you try them, at least the underwear. Wash them after you get home. Wash your hands after shopping.