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Organic Consumers Association

"Gender-Bender" Chemical in Clothes Affects the Environment

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Cloths for a Change Campaign page and our Coming Clean Campaign page.
    Just as organic, chemical-free food is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, organic clothing is also an important factor for both your health and that of the environment.

 The importance of buying organic when it comes to your clothing lies in what the clothing does not contain, specifically nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs).

Why Washing Your Clothes Can be Hazardous...

 NPE is an inexpensive nonionic surfactant frequently used in the global textile industry.

 In the largest textile manufacturing hubs, like China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Turkey, these toxic chemicals are commonly discharged into waterways, including rivers, lakes and seas.

 When NPEs enter the environment, they break down into nonylphenol (NP), a toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemical that accumulates in sediments and builds up in fish and wildlife.

 However, NPE residues can also remain in the clothing itself -- that is, until you wash it.

 Greenpeace International has recently released a report called Dirty Laundry: Reloaded.

 This landmark research investigation revealed that a significant percentage of NPEs are released upon normal washing, essentially "making consumers unwitting accomplices in the release of these hazardous substances into public water supplies."

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