Caution: Chemicals in Your Clothing Might Be Causing Hypertension

Have you ever considered the health impact of your clothing? Most people don’t, and your doctor has probably never mentioned it. However, the chemicals in your clothing can be terrible for your health and blood pressure.

American Airlines and Delta have both received publicity over the toxic airline uniforms provided to their employees. Many of these employees reported numerous health issues from wearing said uniforms. This isn’t an isolated incident or a mistake of the manufacturer. The U.S. doesn’t have strong regulations for the clothing manufacturing process. 

It’s important to be cautious when choosing your wardrobe. Many of these toxic chemicals found in clothes could be an underlying cause of your high blood pressure. 

Common chemicals in clothing

Throughout the manufacturing process, producers often treat textiles with toxic chemicals. But how do these chemicals get into your body?  

  • Skin absorption: Your skin is highly permeable and can’t always protect you from outside toxins. 
  • Inhalation: Some chemicals can release into the air, which you can inhale. 
  • Water and food contamination: These toxins can get into your body indirectly through the contamination of water and food supply. 

Exposure to toxins commonly found in clothing can lead to health problems, including high blood pressure. As a consumer, it’s essential to educate yourself on the dangers of these chemicals to reduce your exposure and make the best choices for your heart health.

Pesticides

Your favorite comfy cotton t-shirt could be a health threat. Cotton is a crop often grown in soil treated with harmful pesticides such as Roundup. Glyphosate is the toxic active ingredient in these pesticides. This chemical was previously considered safe and only harmful to pests. However, as these pesticides have become more widely used in the past several decades, it’s clear that they have damaging health consequences.

New research is showing the dangers of glyphosate exposure. In 2015, the World Health Organization designated glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans.” Environmental research supports that chronic low-dose exposure to glyphosate can cause health issues – and cancer isn’t the only concern.

Pesticides primarily affect human health by disrupting the gut microbiome. Your gut contains a delicate balance of bacteria that support the health of your intestinal lining. This lining acts as a protective barrier against pathogens and foreign invaders. Foreign invaders can enter your bloodstream when the microbiome is out of balance. This affects your immune system, causes inflammation, and increases blood pressure.

These days, farmers spray conventional cotton with pesticides. These chemicals can remain in the cotton, even throughout the manufacturing process. Fortunately, you can choose to purchase organic cotton clothing grown without pesticides or chemicals.

VOCs

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a group of dangerous chemicals in many products that can release toxins into the air. They include solvents often used in textile production. But these chemicals don’t just immediately off-gas into the air and disappear. They’re more likely to slowly release into the air over a long period. This can cause chronic exposure through inhalation.

Higher concentrations of VOCs, such as formaldehyde, are often found in clothing stores and storage areas. People working in these environments often experience health issues. VOC exposure can raise the risk of high blood pressure. This likely happens due to oxidative stress or increased dangerous free radicals floating throughout the body. Oxidative stress is one of the main underlying causes of high blood pressure. 

The worst part? No matter how many times you wash your clothing, there’s often no way to ensure the elimination of these toxic chemicals. The only solution is to make sure your clothes are VOC-free.

PFAS

PFAS is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are synthetic chemicals widely used in many products, including certain types of clothing. These chemicals are often used as a water-repellant coating in performance gear, such as raincoats and snow boots.

These are also called “forever chemicals” because they’re resilient to breakdown. PFAS have been found in our drinking water. Even more terrifying, they’re found in the blood of people worldwide.  They can rapidly spread through the environment, making them difficult to contain. That waterproof coating on your rain jacket can quickly end up in the water supply and then your body. 

PFAS exposure is linked to many health conditions. PFAS can cause dysfunction of the liver, kidneys, immune system, reproductive system, and more. Research supports that PFAS exposure can cause higher blood pressure.

The use of PFAS in clothing needs to stop. Contamination of our food and water supply poses a significant threat to human health. These “forever chemicals” will continue to build up in the environment and remain there until companies decide to stop using them. You can use your power as a consumer to choose products that are PFAS-free.

Azo Dyes

Azo dyes are another common toxin for dyeing jeans and other types of clothing. They’re often used to dye fabric at a low cost. However, the trade-off is your health.

Azo dyes are possibly carcinogenic. They can also cause inflammation, a huge contributing factor to heart disease and high blood pressure. Azo dyes are often water-soluble, meaning they can easily absorb through the skin. In addition to their direct effects on human health, these dyes are poorly biodegradable. They’re polluting the environment by contaminating the soil and water supply.

European countries have appropriately banned the use of these dyes. However, many “fast fashion” companies still use them. It’s essential to protect yourself and the environment from these toxic dyes. To avoid azo dyes, only purchase clothing that is naturally dyed by plants, or labeled as “undyed”.

Next steps

The clothing at your favorite store probably contains toxic chemicals that can affect your blood pressure. Because clothing production is so poorly regulated, make informed decisions about what you decide to purchase and wear.

Go with organic options for everything, not just for your food.  These days, the use of pesticides is out of control. Choosing organic clothing is the only way to ensure that you’re not exposed to fabrics contaminated with glyphosate.

At Natural Heart Doctor, our favorite brand is Pact. Their products are toxin-free and manufactured with 100 percent organic cotton. Pact cares about how their clothing manufacturing process affects human health and the health of our environment and soil. 

Remember, we’re all on this planet together. When fewer toxic products contaminate the environment, we’ll have better soil, water, and food. Entire populations will benefit! As a consumer, you can make conscious choices that will not only directly affect your blood pressure, but improve the heart health of generations to come.

Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well 


Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD

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