Are your jeans TOXIC?? (and other problem clothing)

In this Nutrition Bite we look at a surprising source of everyday toxins… Your clothes! 

We write a lot about hidden environmental toxins, but we here at VegHealth were collectively surprised to learn that your clothes are actually another common source of poisons. 

Some experts estimate that the fashion industry uses around 8000 chemicals in their manufacturing processes! Sadly, that comes without a lot of regulation on what should or should not be used or any safety testing for long-term effects on your health. 

That means that right this minute there are probably toxic substances in your clothing that have been connected to the development of cancer, hormone disruption, liver damage and more. 

That matters a lot because your skin is your biggest omrgan, absorbing up to 60% of what you put on it. Clothing has the potential to be even more problematic than other sources of toxins because you are constantly in contact with it… 

Most people wear clothes 24/7, so that’s a long time to expose your skin to toxins you may not even have been aware of before now. 

And yes, unfortunately this is true even after washing. Not all will wash away, and not all fabrics can be washed in traditional manners (with water), so the toxic content will vary more by type of fabric and type of cleaning materials. (This is our favorite non-toxic laundry detergent, btw.)

But Are My JEANS, Toxic? 


It’s very possible. Much denim contains azo dyes, most commonly in blue or brown clothing. 

Azo dyes can cause skin irritation for those who are sensitive to the chemical p-phenylenediamine

Worse, certain types of azo dye release chemicals known as amines, which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Even some that don’t release amines have been labeled potentially carcinogenic. [1][2]

While the EU has already banned certain azo dyes that release these carcinogenic amines, they are still used in the US and other countries.[3]

This is especially worrying because azo dyes are water soluble, which makes them easy to rub off onto your skin and thus more easily absorbed. 

So What Can You Do About It? 

Well to start, definitely make sure to wash any new denim 2 or 3 times. That will help wash some excess away out the gate. 

In addition, you can choose lighter shades as most azo dyes are concentrated in darker colors.

You can also look out specifically for clothing that is undyed or naturally colored with plant-based dyes. (go plants, once again!)

Other Clothes Containing Toxins

Sadly the dye in your jeans is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Many clothes also contain problematic toxins like: 

Formaldehyde –  a strong-smelling chemical that’s often used for embalming. This toxic substance often found in clothing has been directly linked to cancer in animal studies and several types of cancer in humans.[4]

Solvents – Chemical solvents like benzene, trichloroethylene, and others are classified as carcinogens, meaning they are believed to cause cancer. Others, like 2-methoxyethanol and methyl chloride, can cause reproductive harm. Still others are neurotoxins that can damage your nervous system and brain.[5]

And those are just FIVE of a list of many others.

However, there is some good news. While it’s difficult to avoid all chemicals in clothing, there are steps you can take to drastically cut your exposure by avoiding specific fabrics and fabric treatments and choosing better options.

To discover several other items of clothing that are a common source of toxins, as well as solutions to this hidden problem…

Check out our friend’s newest ebook, TOXIC CLOTHING: Top Fabrics Linked to Cancer, Liver Damage, Hormone Disruption, and Other Issues

>>F.ree copy for our beloved VegHealth audience

Let us know which item of clothing surprised you the most!


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