Chemicals are used for producing fibres and cloth. Certain chemicals can also be found in finished cloth products such as dye, flame retardants and impregnating agent. Sometimes special chemicals are added to ensure that the clothes will not become creased or mildewy during long periods of transport. A number of clothes and shoes contain bacteria-killing agent to combat bad odour.
Chromium, formaldehyde and latex are substances found in clothes which can give rise to an allergic reaction. Shoes made of plastic or clothes with synthetic appliqués may contain softening phthalates. Certain phthalates are banned in toys and childcare articles.
Leather shoes may contain chromium which can give rise to an allergic reaction. Certain dye substances which may be harmful to health are banned in textiles and leather articles.
Nonylphenoletoxylates are used in different cleaning processes in the manufacture of textiles. They end up in our watercourses when traces of the substance is washed out of the textiles. Nonylphenoletoxylates are broken down, this triggers the build-up of nonylphenol which is suspected to be a hormone disrupting substance and is toxic to marine organisms. Apart from a few exceptions, this substance may not be used within the EU, but it comes in through the import of textiles from countries outside the EU.
There are clothes and textiles which have an environmental marking. The marking means that the clothes are manufactured in a way that has less impact on the environment and that certain checks are to ensure that they do not contain traces of chemicals. Since there are several different voluntary markings and these state different requirements, it is a good idea to find out what they mean.
Do wash new clothes and shoes before using them for the first time.
One way of protecting the environment is to buy products with an environmental marking.
Ask in the shop what the product contains so that you can make a conscious choice.