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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: What's in your children's clothes?

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  • Things have changed since my kids were little.
    Believe it or not, car seats were not mandatory and fire retardant pajamas seemed like a good idea. Now, my kids tell me new things about car seats – have to get a new one every six months and never, ever use a pre-used one. Children get into a car seat without a coat on – just a blanket – or else the belts won’t fit right.
    Now, fire retardant pajamas are not good because that puts your baby’s tender skin right next to all of those chemicals. Then I heard this!
    Greenpeace just released a report, “A Little Story About the Monsters in Your Closet,” and it’s all about children’s clothes. It turns out that questioning what’s on our clothing is a very good thing. Greenpeace discovered that residual toxic chemicals remain on our kids’ clothes after the manufacturing process.
    After testing 12 major clothing brands including Disney, American Apparel, Adidas, GAP, Nike, Puma, G&S, Burberry and Primark, every single brand of clothing contained toxic chemicals such as perflourated chemicals, phthalates, nonylphenol, nonylphenol ethoxylate, and cadmium. Also, there was little distinction between the levels of hazardous chemicals in children’s clothing and that of adults, though children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals.
    “Once released into the environment, many of these chemicals can have adverse impacts either on human reproductive hormonal or immune systems,” Greenpeace’s press release stated. Greenpeace is campaigning for companies to “detox” their clothing manufacturing process.
    Chih An Lee, detox campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said, “This is a nightmare for parents everywhere looking to buy clothes for their children that don’t contain hazardous chemicals. These chemical ‘little monsters’ can be found in everything from exclusive designs to budget fashion, polluting our waterways from Beijing to Berlin. For the sake of current and future generations, brands should stop using these monsters.”
    “Among the results, one Adidas swimsuit contained higher levels of ionic perfluorinated chemical than permitted in their own Restricted Substance List …” Greenpeace wrote. “Parents, fashion fans and local communities can help end this toxic nightmare by speaking out against polluting brands. Thanks to global people power, some of the world’s biggest brands have already committed the Detox and many of them are already walking the talk toward supply chain transparency and the elimination of the worst chemicals.”
    China remains the world’s largest textile producer and consumer of chemicals, and Greenpeace is calling on the government to help stop the use of hazardous chemicals in the textile industry. It is critical the government publish a chemical blacklist to be acted upon immediately and urge factories to disclose chemical information.
    Textile producers need to be transparent about their supply chain and create a level playing field for the industry. These chemicals may speed up the manufacturing process and lower prices, but at what cost? The next time you are shopping for children’s clothing, remember these brands and check the labels. At this point, I will stick to made in the U.S.A.
    Page 2 of 2 - Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association.
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