High Levels of BPA Found In More Athletic Clothing: Here’s What To Know | appencode.com

High Levels of BPA Found In More Athletic Clothing: Here’s What To Know

Warnings have circulated for years about BPA levels in household items like water bottles and cookware. But a rising count of athletic clothing items, like sports bras, are being found to contain high levels of the hormone-disrupting chemical that can have long-term health impacts.

The Center for Environmental Health, a non-profit that works to protect people from harmful chemicals, expanded on an October update in late May, identifying eight additional athletic clothing brands that could be exposing wearers to high BPA levels.

Kaya Allan Sugerman, illegal toxic threats program director at CEH, told Shape in an emailed statement Friday that finding BPA in clothing is concerning. “Studies have shown that BPA can be absorbed through the skin and end up in the bloodstream after handling receipt paper for seconds or a few minutes at a time,” she said. “Sports bras and athletic clothing are worn for hours at a time, and you are meant to sweat in them, so it is concerning to be finding such high levels of BPA in our clothing.”

Why is BPA so concerning? The chemical acts like estrogen and it has the ability to interrupt the body’s typical functioning methods, including metabolism and reproduction processes in addition to development and growth, according to the CEH, Shape reported in October. Here’s what you need to know from the latest update, and how to keep yourself safe.

Athleta, Nike, Adidas, Fabletics identified for clothing items with high levels of BPA

The new brands and clothing items called out by CEH include leggings sold by Kohl’s, Champion, Athleta, Nike, and Patagonia; sports bras sold by Sweaty Betty; shirts sold by Fabletics; and shorts sold by Champion, Nike, and Adidas. In the most recent report, CEH found that those items could expose wearers to up to 40 times the amount of BPA that California identifies as the safe limit of the chemical which sits at 3 micrograms per day.

In October, Shape previously reported that CEH called out 14 brands including Nike, Brooks, Mizuno, PINK, Asics, and Athleta among others for exposing wearers of their clothing to high BPA levels that could expose the wearer to up to 22 times the limit. At that time, CEH said that they found high levels of BPA in “polyester-based clothing with spandex.” So, it’s important to understand which fabrics your activewear is made from.

And, the problem is accentuated by the purpose of athletic wear. “Sweat acts as a solvent and has been found to pull contaminants out of clothing,” Jimena Díaz Leiva, Ph.D., Science Director at CEH, told Shape in October. The contaminants can then travel from the activewear via sweat into the body through the skin.

A Note Regarding Brooks Products

Brooks tested the products in question, as well as other items within our apparel portfolio, and our test results found no detectable amounts of BPA. In addition, BPA is a restricted substance on Brooks’ Restricted Substance List. 

Please note: Some of the brands listed above may be recommended in commerce articles published on Shape.

Why should you avoid BPA?

Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a chemical that is used in the creation of polycarbonate plastics which are used for items like bottles, eyewear, shatterproof windows, and more, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Services.

Exposure to the chemical is widespread per the NIEH, which is cause for some concern: BPA is a hormone disrupter and it can have long-term, negative health impacts, particularly for young children and fetuses. Research has suggested that exposure to BPA could lead to increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes, according to an article published by the Mayo Clinic.

BPA exposure can lead to lifelong consequences, Hugh Taylor, M.D., chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale-New Haven Hospital who has studied BPA, told Shape in October. “If the clothing is releasing BPA, this is something that is quite concerning and surprising and something that manufacturers should know to avoid,” Dr. Taylor said at the time.

Exposure could lead to fertility issues, behavioral changes, and estrogen-sensitive diseases including breast cancer, he added. Dr. Taylor emphasized in an interview in May that fetuses are most vulnerable to chemicals like BPA. He cautioned that people who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should take extra care to minimize exposure to the chemical.

The news about high BPA levels in clothing makes him wonder about other materials, like bedsheets. “We should call for more transparency in clothing materials and better labeling,” said Dr. Taylor.

What can you do if you’re worried about BPA levels in your clothing?

Most guidance that can be found online for limiting BPA exposure has to do with consumption — which is how many people become exposed to BPA. But there are things you can do to avoid the chemical in clothing items, too.

How to Minimize BPA Exposure in Activewear

  • Avoid purchasing clothing items with known high levels of BPA
  • Change out of your running sports brascompression leggings, and other activewear immediately after your workout
  • Consider throwing out older activewear that potentially contains high levels of BPA

To start, avoid buying clothing items with high levels of BPA (for instance, the brands and items flagged by CEH) from the get-go, Dr. Taylor added Sunday. For instance, you could stay away from the items flagged by CEH. And if you’re not sure about the clothing item’s composition, you can reach out to the manufacturer to ask before purchasing.

And there are other steps that you can take to mitigate exposure, too, especially with items you already own.

If you finish your workout, change out of your favorite leggings, sports bra, and other athletic clothing immediately. “This [BPA] does clear the system pretty quickly,” Dr. Taylor said in October. “So, it’s not something you have to worry about accumulating [over time]. Short exposure, shorter and briefer exposure, is probably better.”

He added that older, worn-down clothing items that contain high levels of BPA could lead to more exposure, so it might be worth throwing those pieces out.

“We’re exposed to Bisphenol A from multiple sources constantly every day,” Dr. Taylor said in October. It’s about minimizing exposure as you can from all potential sources of exposure including clothing and other materials that are known to contain higher levels of BPA, he reiterated in May.

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