Formaldehyde in Wrinkle-Free Clothing May Cause Skin Irritation

wrinkled shirt photo

Photo: Thinkstock

Thanks to wrinkle-free clothing irons are no longer necessary for attaining a clean- and crisp-looking dress shirt. Unfortunately, the look isn't as clean as it may appear. A recent article in the New York Times (via Green LA Girl) reveals the not-so-secret ingredient lurking in crease-free clothing: formaldehyde.

While most consumers will probably never have a problem with exposure to the known carcinogen, wrinkle-free clothing wearers are at risk for a skin condition called contact dermatitis, which can cause itchy skin, rashes and blisters, and it poses serious health implications for people who work with the chemical in factories.

Long-gone Ironing Days, Not so Long Gone?
Why is formaldehyde in clothing in the first place? It keeps the fabric's fibers in place after a getting creased from a hand washing or a spin in the washing machine.

The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Cosmetic Database states that formaldehyde is classified by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) as 'carcinogenic to humans,' and yet, the U.S. does not regulate formaldehyde levels in clothing, nor are there restrictions on the levels of formaldehyde allowed in body care products -- a fact made popular with the recent Brazilian Blowout controversy.

Manufacturers are not required to disclose the use of chemicals on labels so it is difficult for consumers to avoid though, as the New York Times suggests, washing new clothes before wearing them for the first time may help.

Do you wear wrinkle-free clothing? Share your experience in the comment section, below.

For more, visit the New York Times.

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