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5 nastiest toxins used in baby clothes


Ever wonder what the organic fuss is all about? Why some new mom’s insist on organic clothing? Most people think it is because of the pesticides that are used in growing cotton. (Which there are a lot of those!) But the truth is that often in the washing, weaving and prewashing process those pesticides are washed away before they make it to your little one’s precious skin.

But did you know that most clothing is produced with synthetic dyes and is treated with toxic chemicals in order to provide wrinkle resistance, stain resistance, fade resistance, static cling resistance? Here’s some of the bad stuff found in some conventional fabrics:

Benzidine-based “azo dyes”:

Synthetic colorants, some of which may release carcinogenic properties. They are named by the EPA as “known human carcinogens”.

Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs):

A cheap surfactants sometimes used in the textile industry. They are also yucky hormone disruptors that wind up in our water supply when we launder clothing that contains them. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors.


A known carcinogen (although unregulated in the USA) used in clothing to prevent wrinkling. Many popular brands of baby clothing have been shown to contain formaldehyde in concentrations as high as 18,000 ppm (parts per million). It is said that up to 20 ppm for babies is safe. Short-term exposure to formaldehyde in fabrics can lead to bad rashes. That's why at Finn + Emma’s processes and materials are formaldehyde free.

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs):

A group of chemicals that work to repel water and stains, specifically grease. According to EWG, PCFs break down into a toxic blood contaminant called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). Did you know if we tested 100 random people that 9 of them would test positive for this chemical in their bloodtests? PCFs are found in cosmetics, packaged food containers, furniture, paper plates, microwave popcorn, household cleaners, and nonstick pans, just to name a few. In clothing, PFCs are usually lurking in wrinkle-, water-, and stain-resistant clothing, including those with Scotchgard and Gore-Tex tags.


Yup, they're even in our clothing! Children are at a significantly higher risk than adults when it comes to phthalate exposure, and phthalates are often found in clothing dyes.

Can these nasty toxins show up in your organic clothing? Up until recently, yes. A manufacturer could take organically grown cotton and dye it with toxic colorants and then treat it with formaldehyde to prevent wrinkling. In 2011, the USDA ruled that textiles labeled as “organic” have a third-party certification, ideally GOTS, which ensures that the entire production process is gentle on the environment and on the person wearing the garment.

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