in Fabric and Clothing

Maria Low
May – Jun 2024 • Vol 4, No 10

The Rise of Synthetic Fibers and Petrochemicals

Petrochemicals and synthetic dyes are in every sector of our lives. After World War II, experiments took place with petrochemicals to create fiber. One of the first synthetic fibers made was nylon.

Nylon and other synthetic fibers have played a significant role in the production of fabric ever since. This is due to their strength and the low cost of production compared to natural fibers. However, natural fibers for clothing, such as wool, cotton, flax (linen), silk, hemp, bamboo, and alpaca are slowly coming back because of committed activist groups in California.

Health Concerns in Various Industries

Staff members at American Airlines complained of blistering, rashes, swollen eyes, nose bleeds, and inflammation. Tests of their uniforms commissioned by the airlines and the flight attendants’ union turned up to contain a frightening list of detrimental components:

  • Synthetic fibers
  • Tributyl phosphate
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Cobalt
  • Antimony
  • Allergenic dyes
  • Toluene
  • Hexavalent chromium
  • Dimethyl fumarate
  • Wrinkle-resistance chemicals
  • Fire retardants

When the flight attendants confronted the manufacturer in a court case, it was thrown out because of a lack of evidence. In addition, the materials used in the cabin of airplanes release harmful gases from plastic and other synthetic materials.

People who work in auto body shops, fashion, the furniture industry, beauty salons, and manufacturing plants are exposed to constant toxins. The toxins build up on an intracellular level in the organs, skin, and the brain. Most doctors are not equipped to diagnose environmental poisoning and either misdiagnose it or are unable to make recommendations.

Toxic Chemicals in Clothing and Other Products

Clothing and other items such as shoes are highly polluted with chemicals and metals. Shoes are sprayed with chemicals before they are exported. The chemicals work up from the sole of the shoe into the feet. The US Federal Commission asks the clothing retailers to list the fiber content, country of origin, identification of the manufacturers on labels. Chemical composition is not indicated, many of which cause serious consequences to humans.

And don’t forget about babies’ clothing! Pure cotton clothing for children is available, however most clothing, especially for toddlers carry many of the following chemicals: Azo Dyes, PFCs (Perfluorinated chemicals), NPEs (Nonylphenol ethoxylates), and more.

One of the most used dyes, Azo Dye, has many chemical varieties and is linked to skin problems, respiratory issues, depleted immune system, and long-term health problems. PFCs are related to birth defects and linked to testicular and kidney cancer. NPEs have widespread exposure which is absorbed through the skin and the environment. This widely used chemical is linked to fatigue, nosebleeds, rashes, and possible neurological issues.

The Danger of Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is sometimes used to make clothing wrinkle resistant. This chemical is an endocrine disruptor. It’s also used for bacteria, mold, and as a preservative. Formal-dehyde is linked to immune suppression and obesity. There are many other insidious chemicals affecting people’s lifestyles including their automobiles. Walking through stores filled with synthetic materials, taking vacations on ships, working in toxic offic