At Sprout, people ask us all the time how much the clothing their kid wears really matters. We have always believed it was important for developing children, especially newborns with porous skin, to be exposed to as few chemicals as possible. For us, that meant surrounding babies with mostly organic cotton. However, when friends would ask me, “I can bring Hannah something from Disneyworld, right? Even though it’s not organic?” I would say, “Of course.” Recently, though, we read about all of the other chemicals, besides pesticides, that are found on printed children’s garments, and now I am not so sure.
Our friends at a wonderful textile company O eco textiles published a blog post about a study Greenpeace did on Disney licensed garments with printed designs from around the world. Here are some experts from their blog:
Greenpeace – as part of their campaign to show how dangerous chemicals are out of control, turning up in house dust, in household products, food, rain water, in our clothes… and ultimately in our bodies – decided to test Disney’s childrenswear for the presence of toxic chemicals.
Disney garments, including T-shirts, pajamas and underwear, were bought in retail outlets in 19 different countries around the world and analyzed by the independent laboratory Eurofins, an international group of companies who provide testing, certification and consulting on the quality and safety of products. This group is also one of the largest scientific testing laboratories in the world.
Greenpeace asked Eurofins to test the Disney childrenswear for:
- Phthalates: Considered toxic by Greenpeace. Two commonly found phthalates, DEHP and DBP, have been classified by the EU as “Toxic to Reproduction”.
- Alkylphenol ethoxylates: Used mostly in industrial detergents, these chemicals are described by Greenpeace as known for their hormone-disrupting properties, which can lead to altered sexual development.
- Organotins: According to Greenpeace, these chemicals have been shown to have immunotoxic and developmental properties in mammals.
- Lead: Greenpeace sites studies showing that the impact on lead of the developing nervous system are of extreme concern and can result in a permanent lowering of IQ.
- Cadmium: The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the US Department of Health and Human Services both classify cadmium as carcinogenic to humans.
- Formaldehyde: The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified formaldehyde as a probable carcinogen in humans.
This is what they found:
- Phthalates: Found in all the garments tested, from 1.4 mg/kg to 200,000 mg/kg – or more than 20% of the weight of the sample.
- Alkylphenol ethoxylates: Found in all the garments tested, in levels ranging from 34.1 mg/kg to 1,700 mg/kg
- Organotins: found in 9 of the 16 products tested; the Donald Duck T shirt from The Netherlands had 474 micrograms/kg
- Lead: Found in all the products tested, ranging from 0.14 mg/kg to 2,600 mg/kg for a Princess T shirt from Canada. With Denmark’s new laws on the use, marketing and manufacture of lead and products containing lead, the Princess T shirt from Canada would be illegal on the Danish market. Canada has set a limit of 600 mg/kg for children’s jewelry containing lead – why not Disney T shirts?
- Cadmiun: Identified in 14 of the 18 products tested, ranging from 0.0069 mg/kg in the Finding Nemo T shirt bought in the UK to 38
- Formaldehyde: Found in 8 of the 15 products tested for this chemical in levels ranging from 23 mg/kg to 1,100 mg/kg.
One sample stands out: a German Winnie the Pooh PVC raincoat. This contained an astounding 320,000 mg/kg of total phthalates, or 32% by weight of the raincoat! This raincoat also contained 1,129 micrograms/kg of organotins.