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Toxins Found in Children’s Clothing

Beth Mark

Recent testing has found that children's clothes contain alarming amounts of toxins. When it comes to what our kids wear, cheaper is definitely not always better.

by / Views 51 / August 7, 2016

It’s hard to believe that the start of the school year is just around the corner, which means that back-to-school shopping is also fast approaching. While it’s easy to get swept into the sales and bargain prices that stores and advertisers are rolling out right now, recent studies urge us to think twice about the purchases we’ll be making for our kids this school year.

Kids clothing (and accompanying accessories) don’t always come to mind when we think of sources of toxic chemicals that our children may be exposed to on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many clothing items do, in fact, contain harmful ingredients to produce the dyes, screen printing, stain protection, and waterproofing that seem normal or all too commonplace. To examine this further, Washington State’s Department of Ecology conducted a test of nearly 300 kids’ apparel items – including clothes, jewelry, and shoes – for metals, phthalates, and solvents. The results were troubling:

  • 48 out of the 50 clothing samples tested contained the metals molybdenum, cobalt, arsenic, lead, cadmium, or antimony (all of which are listed as Chemicals of High Concern to Children in Washington state). A large percentage of the samples tested contained antimony, lead, and arsenic.
  • Almost 1/3 of the samples tested contained one or more of six phthalates, with plastic accessories (such as jewelry, handbags, wallets, and purses) proving to be some of the worst offenders.

This information comes alongside a Canadian study that found kids’ costume jewelry sold by popular Canadian retailers contained dangerous levels of cadmium, a known carcinogen.

Researchers and scientists have pointed to a lack of oversight by regulating agencies, manufacturers, and retailers, but the cost of these clothing and accessory items also plays a major role. Because these products are sold at such an inexpensive price, only the cheapest materials are used in their production. This is a situation where quality really should override quantity; it’s better to pay a little more to ensure that poorly made and unsafe items stay out of your kids’ closets and off their bodies. An investment in healthier options can go a long way.

An alternative that still remains budget-friendly? Choose hand-me-downs or secondhand items: repeated washings may reduce chemical residue from the manufacturing and finishing processes.

What more can you do to ensure safe & toxin-free clothing is finding its way into your home?

The Washington Toxics Coalition has some smart tips found here.

 

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