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New study finds concerning level of harmful chemical in sportswear products

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Unsplash

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has announced that it has sent legal notices to a number of sportswear brands after testing had shown some of their clothing could be exposing individuals to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

The organisation has called on eight brands of sports bras and six brands of athletic shirts to address evidence that their products could be carrying up to 22 times the safe limit of the chemical compound, according to California law.

The brands under question include the likes of Nike, Fila, Asics, The North Face, Reebok, Pink and New Balance.

BPA is considered a “well-studied” chemical that can disrupt hormones and bodily functions by mimicking oestrogen, as well as further hindering metabolism, growth and reproduction.

In a release, CEH’s Illegal Toxic Threats programme director, Kaya Allan Sugerman, said: “People are exposed to BPA through ingestion (e.g. from eating food or drinking water from containers that have leached BPA) or by absorption through skin (e.g. from handling receipt paper).

“Studies have shown that BPA can be absorbed through skin and end up in the bloodstream after handling receipt paper for seconds or a few minutes at a time.

“Sports bras and athletic shirts are worn for hours at a time, and you are meant to sweat in them, so it is concerning to be finding such high levels of BPA in our clothing.”

It builds on the CEH’s efforts to push companies to reformulate their products and remove all bisphenol chemicals, with some already having agreed to do so.

The new study follows a previous investigation by CEH, where the organisation found BPA in polyester-based clothing with spandex, including socks for infants.

The sportswear companies in this new suit will have 60 days to work with CEH to remedy the violations before it files a complaint to do so.