Dressed to kill: Your clothes hide toxins that can harm you | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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Dressed to kill: Your clothes hide toxins that can harm you

health and fitness Updated: Oct 24, 2015 15:45 IST
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According to researchers, exposure to some of the chemicals found on our new clothes increases the risk of allergic dermatitis.(Shutterstock)

If you thought getting your new clothes washed once before you wear them for the first time is a good habit, think again. According to a new study, potentially harmful toxins remain in clothes long after they are manufactured.

In the new thesis, 60 garments from Swedish and international clothing chains have been tested. An initial analysis found thousands of chemicals in the clothes and around a hundred chemicals were preliminary identified. Several of the substances were not on the producers’ lists and are suspected to be by-products, residues or chemicals added during transport.

Exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of allergic dermatitis, but more severe health effect for humans as well as the environment could possibly be related to these chemicals. Some of them are suspected or proved carcinogens and some have aquatic toxicity, says Stockholm University’s Giovanna Luongo.

Read: Chinese iPhone factory workers live in bedbug-infested dorms: Report

Depending on occurrence, quantity, toxicity and how easily they may penetrate the skin, four groups of substances were chosen for further analysis. The highest concentrations of two of these, quinolines and aromatic amines, were found in polyester. Cotton contained high concentrations of benzothiazoles, even clothes made from organic cotton.

The researchers washed the clothes and then measured the levels of chemicals. Some of the substances were washed off, with a risk of ending up in aquatic environments. Others remained to a high degree in the clothes, becoming a potential source of long-term dermal exposure. It is difficult to know if the levels of these harmful substances are hazardous, and what effects chemicals in our clothes can have in the long run.

“We have only scratched the surface; this is something that has to be dealt with. Clothes are worn day and night during our entire life. We must find out if textile chemicals go into our skin and what it means to our health. It is very difficult to assess and requires considerably more research,” noted Conny Ostman.