Image: Kick Photo via flickr
Samples of clothing from 14 of the most popular brands in the U.S., including Adidas, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, H&M;, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Converse and Ralph Lauren, have tested positive for toxic chemicals known as nonylphenol ethoxylates, according to a recent report by Greenpeace. NPEs are harmful to the environment and to human health—and the effects are not limited to where the clothes are manufactured.
"Since residual levels of NPEs are released when clothes are washed, they are in effect creeping into countries where their use is banned," said Greenpeace campaigner Li Yifang. AFP reports that the chemicals are commonly used as detergents in industrial processes, and were detected in two-thirds of the samples the group tested.
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"NPEs break down to form nonylphenol, which has toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting properties," Li told journalists in Beijing.
"It mimics female hormones, alters sexual development and affects reproductive systems."
Greenpeace said it purchased 78 branded clothing samples -- mostly made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines -- from 18 countries around the world and subjected them to scientific analysis.
"Even at low levels, it represents a big threat to the environment and human health," Li said.
Days after the report was released, Puma and Nike announced plans to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their products by 2020.
Adidas has been criticized for not making such a pledge, but Business Green reports that the company responded today that it is in talks with competitors to develop an industry-wide collaboration to develop chemical management programs.
More on clothing and sustainability:
Nike, Adidas, Puma, H&M; and Others Found Discharging Toxic Chemicals Into Chinese Rivers
Global Shoe Brands May Be Unwittingly Causing Deforestation in the Amazon: New Greenpeace Report Says
Free2Work Phone App Spots Child Labor in Products While You Shop
Sustainable Apparel Coalition Plans Industry-Wide Eco-Index