Environmental organization Greenpeace has found toxic chemicals in 89 of the 114 garments it investigated. The organization took a close look at fashion items from brands like Levi's, Esprit and Tommy Hilfiger. According to Greenpeace, Zara produces the most toxic items for both humans and the environment.

Greenpeace presented its findings in Peking in a report titled "Toxic Threads. The big fashion stitch-up". The organization examined 141 garments from a variety of brands for nonylfenolethoxylates (NFE's), which the organization says cause hormonal disruptions. According to Greenpeace this is dangerous, because NFE's - which are used to fix colour in textiles - can end up in water through the laundering process and drinking water companies are unable to remove the chemicals from the water.

The investigation revealed that C&A, Mango, Levi's, Calvin Klein, Zara, Metersbowe and Jack & Jones made the greatest use of NFE's. The examined items from these brands contained the highest concentration. The garments by Zara also revealed dyes containing amines. These chemicals are registered in the EU as possible carcinogens. Zara has not broken the law: the use of amines remained within the European Union's standards. The use of noylfenol is also regulated in Europe. Greenpeace says stronger measures for NFE-residue are being developed.

The organization says it expects the fashion companies to stop using toxins. "They're treating water as if it's an open sewer. In countries such as China and Bangladesh, where the clothing is produced, the factories dump their toxins into the nearest rivers via pipelines," says Ilze Smit, campaign leader for Greenpeace.

This is not the first time Greenpeace has encouraged fashion labels to reduce their use of chemicals and the organization has previously called attention to the use of PFC's: chemicals with a fluorine base that are used to make clothes stain- and water resistant. People can ingest PFC's by consuming contaminated fish.

In October, following negative attention from Greenpeace, British retailer Marks & Spencer gave in to pressure from the environmentalists. H&M, Adidas, Nike and Puma had already capitulated with promises to pay more attention to nature.

 

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