How Toxic Is Your Tee? The Truth About Cotton And Pesticides

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Have you ever read that label “wash before wearing” and thought, “Na! It will be fine”? Think again.

Cotton is the most common material around the globe accounting for over 50% of the globes fibre requirements. Millions, dare we say billions of people probably have it in their possession in some form or another. However research suggests that this simple noble material may not be good for your health.

Beth Doane, founder of Andira International a import and distribution company recently wrote on the potential impacts commercial cotton may have. She found:

  1. The majority of cotton is grown using extremely toxic chemicals and pesticides
  2. Some of these chemicals and pesticides are considered to be the most lethal toxins in the world.
  3. According to, the health risks of pesticide exposure can include birth defects, reproductive disorders and a weakened immune systems.
  4. According to the World Health Organization, pesticides cause the poisoning of nearly five million people across the globe each year.
  5. Formaldehyde is an identified neurotoxin and carcinogen (known to cause cancer and negatively affect our bodies nervous system). It is used in the apparel industry to set dyes and keep clothes “wrinkle free”. This also why most of our apparel comes with a “wash before wearing” label. Sadly, the majority of us have no idea just how important it really is to wash our clothes before they are in contact with our skin, which can absorb these toxins within 30 minutes of direct contact.
  6. Most of the dyes used on cotton tees are synthetic dyes made from petrochemicals, which are chemical products made from the raw material of petroleum. Like any other product containing petroleum or oil, the mining and refining needed to create these dyes pollutes our environment and our bodies with poisonous chemicals.

So, the next time you see, “wash before wearing” you may want to think twice. Either about washing, or buying the product in the first place.

  • Mark Spowart

    A writer and photographer, Spowart has publication credits in Canada, United States, Europe and Norway with such publications as The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Sun Media, Canwest News, and Canada News Wire.

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