TOXIC MATERIALS: THEY ARE ALSO IN OUR CLOTHES. LET'S AVOID THEM!
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is no longer the latest trendy "thing"; it has become a real life choice.
For most of us, we first became aware of it through food. Then came cleaning products and/or beauty products.
Each time we go a little further.
The path is almost always the same. We discover, we are surprised, and then we get informed. We make up our minds and, of course, we select, eliminate and keep what we think is really good for us and our family.
This sorting has gradually become necessary for meat, eggs, vegetables, shampoos, lotions, soaps, deodorants and washing powder. This is still not really the case for our clothes .... And yet, it is almost the same for textiles.
Because the textiles we wear can, like the food we eat, be toxic to our bodies, cause bad body odour and, above all, many other health problems.
We were shocked by the terrible images of ocean pollution and unsanitary textile factories in Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan... It's not pretty.
And yet, these are the materials that we continue to 'quietly' wear.
It is clear that over the last 150 years, the world's population has exploded. It is also clear that in the developed countries, our consumption patterns have evolved, towards more numerous, diverse products, accessible to all.
Agriculture and industry have risen to this challenge by making massive use of chemicals.
Today, we are becoming aware of the risks. This omnipresent chemistry has disastrous consequences for the planet and is toxic for our own bodies.
The textile industry is also concerned. What is involved: 8000 chemical substances.
Rayon, nylon, spandex, lycra, acrylic ...: these products, sometimes containing frankly harmful chemical substances, are everywhere. They allow the fashion industry to offer us "technical" clothes, with infinite colours, at accessible prices. Is this really a problem?
Yes, as we did with hormone-treated calves, we must be aware that synthetic clothing has proven consequences on our health. When they come into contact with our skin, the largest organ in the body, these products have consequences for our health. Is it really dangerous for us? It's up to you.
WHAT IS INVOLVED?
8,000 chemical substances used in the textile industry.
But what is a "chemical substance" anyway?
From water to air, from plants to nails, from concrete to gold, ... almost every substance on this planet is a chemical product, a diverse assembly of atoms and molecules.
Here I am talking about chemical substances created by man, often to solve a specific problem. And, in the case of clothing, to solve the problems that the textile industry has had to face at different stages of its evolution and first of all mass production at low cost.
From the outset, on agricultural farms, yields were improved by the massive use of pesticides and herbicides.
In factories, formaldehydes make the garment wrinkle-free and non-shrinkable, PFCs make it waterproof and stain-proof, flame-retardant bromides make it non-flammable, heavy metals dye it, ammonia reduces shrinkage, ... The list is long, very long ...
Whether they are substances added to the textile, used in its processing or 100% chemical textiles, these chemical substances have often been designed to make life more beautiful and cheaper for us, the consumers... And, because we don't live in a Care Bear world, to allow producers to produce more efficiently and profitably.
Let's take a look at these purely chemical textiles.
THE PRECURSORS: RAYON AND NYLON
Until the end of the 19th century, clothes were made only of natural materials, from living things, animal or vegetable. Clothes were made of linen, skin, hemp, wool, cotton...
The first "man-made" textiles then appeared, created by man through chemical synthesis. They were designed to be like nature, imitating natural fibres but "better" and, above all, cheaper and not subject to climatic or other risks.
The first synthetic fibre, in the 1890s, was rayon. Often used for dresses or shirts, it was created from wood, transformed with titanium dioxide, hydrochloric acid and carbon sulphate. And by the way, this is how bamboo textiles are made.
In most cases, these chemicals tend to stick to the fabric and can cause allergic and skin reactions.
The queen of synthetics, still very much in evidence, appeared 40 years later: nylon.
Originally intended for military use, it gained popularity through stockings. From socks to underwear, it is still the most widely used fabric today. Not surprisingly, it is one of the cheapest and also one of the most durable ... even in the oceans where it ends up!
So it's a great product ... for the producer. For the wearer, the balance is less attractive: nylon does not absorb perspiration from your body, it can cause both very bad body odour and skin infections.
DERIVATIVES: POLYESTER, SPANDEX, ACRYLIC, ...
It is smooth and really super soft to the touch. It is probably the most used textile in sportswear.
But fabrics made of polyester (like those made of nylon) are really not very breathable. When you sweat, polyester simply does not absorb the sweat.
Another problem is the lack of air circulation. A recent study showed that people who wore polyester clothing were more likely to get skin infections. This is simply because bacteria grow super easily on polyester, much more so than on natural materials.
Lycra, Spandex and elastane are all the same. Different names for the same material. It is the synthetic fibre derived from polyurethane. The elastic material par excellence.
Excellence ... maybe for superhero suits ... but for your skin, it is far, far from being the case. Especially if you wear it regularly and for a long time.
Spandex and sweat really don't mix. You sweat and bacteria settle in the material. You develop skin allergies and really bad odours, which become permanently embedded in your garment...
Soft and cheap ... It can be used to make jumpers as well as lingerie or imitation fur.
It is usually mixed with other materials such as cotton, wool or other synthetic fibres.
But acrylic contains toxic substances that are dangerous to humans. More and more organisations are highlighting the risk of allergies and irritations. Some even claim that acrylic is an endocrine disruptor, a factor in physiological and reproductive abnormalities.
As wedress fair points out, "At the origin of acrylic clothing is the acrylonitrile molecule, which is classified as a mutagenic agent, i.e. capable of acting on DNA, and which can cause cancers. At the end of its life, when your acrylic garment ends up in the incinerator, its combustion releases carbon dioxide (CO2) but also hydrogen cyanide (HCN), a gas that is extremely toxic to humans."
I hear you...
"But hey, we've been wearing these clothes, this type of material, laden with chemicals, for so long, they're, practical, cheap, seemingly fine, is that really a problem? "
Our human body is a unique chemical factory. Everything we do - breathing, digesting, thinking, seeing, moving, ... we do because of the chemical reactions that are continually taking place in our bodies. The number of different chemical reactions taking place in our bodies at any one time is simply staggering.
These chemical reactions can be influenced, modified, for good or bad, by what we swallow, food and ... drugs, ... All this does not work only through our mouth. We tend to forget that. Everything that comes into direct contact with our skin can also influence our wonderful machine. Suppositories, patches, ... you know?
LET'S NOT FORGET THAT THE SKIN IS THE BODY'S LARGEST ORGAN.
It protects us, allows us to absorb minerals and vital nutrients such as vitamin D from the sun. But skin is porous and absorbs everything it comes into contact with.
The bad news is that this absorption increases with your body temperature. The warmer your body is, the more it absorbs.
When you wear synthetic clothing in contact with your skin and your body temperature rises, you are "feeding" your body with a quantity of chemical microfibres, released by your synthetic clothing.
I'm talking about the same petroleum-based microfibres that are released into the waters near textile factories - those images that disgust you but have unfortunately become commonplace - ... these are the same microfibres that your body absorbs ...
An increased risk when the body warms up ... Great for sportsmen, isn't it?
IS IT REALLY DANGEROUS?
The studies are there. They show first of all the toxicity of these substances for the workers in contact with them, in farms or textile factories: cancers due to herbicides, disturbances of the hormonal system, development of asthma and other respiratory problems, problems of DNA mutations and reproduction ... and so on.
What has also been demonstrated, for consumers this time, is the responsibility of chemicals used by the textile industry - and particularly those used for chemical dyeing of clothes - in the development of contact dermatitis, eczema, skin rashes and allergies.
Let's not demonise: not all industrial chemicals are bad. The fact remains that most of those used in the textile industry, first for reasons of production costs and then in the search for ever more advanced "technical" characteristics, are really bad.
GOING BACK TO NATURAL MATERIALS IS FAR FROM BEING REVOLUTIONARY. IT IS SIMPLY ESSENTIAL FOR OUR WELL-BEING.